Handball. Montpellier without fear and favorite against Kiel, “the biggest European club”, in the Champions League

Handball. Montpellier without fear and favorite against Kiel, “the biggest European club”, in the Champions League
Handball. Montpellier without fear and favorite against Kiel, “the biggest European club”, in the Champions League

A match at the top this Thursday for the handball players of Montpellier. The quarter-final return against Kiel in Germany. With a 9-goal lead, MHB went from outsider status to favorite and refined its tactics.

With a nine-goal lead, can Montpellier fear a comeback from the Germans from Kiel? As they approach their Champions League quarter-final return in the legendary German club venue, Thursday at 6:45 p.m., MHB in any case assumes its new status as favorite.

The double European champion from Hérault can make history once again. Thanks to the nine-goal lead won in the first leg (39-30), the Montpellier team, crowned in 2003 and 2018, are in fact ideally placed to relive a new Final Four (June 8 and 9 in Cologne) and dream to a third European title, for the last of their manager Patrice Canayer.

The foundations were laid last Wednesday when, in its incandescent lair of Bougnol, the MHB crushed Kiel, one of the monuments of German handball. “We went from being outsiders to favorites, it’s up to us to justify this status. It’s a challenge for us, because we can’t hide when we’re nine goals ahead.”warned Canayer. “It’s a challenge that gives us responsibilities, in front of an injured, perhaps humiliated opponent. But I don’t want us to be the little illegitimate one to fight against the big one”he added.

Left behind by Paris SG and Nantes in the title race, frustrated by its elimination in the Coupe de France, Montpellier can therefore still complete the reign of Canayer, at the head of the team for 30 years, with an exploit, that of dismiss the four-time European champion, “the biggest European club”.

To do this, the MHB will have to resist the rebellion promised by Czech coach Filip Jicha and his players, dumped in the Bundesliga and on the verge of a season without a trophy. “Now we need a little miracle. I hope we have a magical night in Kiel”he promised shortly after the knockout experienced in Bougnol

Montpellier has every reason to be wary because the club is experiencing monumental upsets from both sides. In 2003, there was the feat of a Champions League final reversed in the return (31-19) after a reverse first leg (27-19) against Pamplona of Jackson Richardson, the former captain bruises.

At the same time, the MHB also came close in March 2005 to the humiliation of a “comeback” in Flensburg (32-19, 36-22 in the first leg), when it was saved on the gong by an extraordinary goal from Grégory Anquetil . “I don’t know anything about miracles, but there are often reversals of situations in the European Cup. We have had plenty of matches with such reversals. In Flensburg, we scored from a direct free kick. That’s the a sign that we must believe in it until the end”recalled Patrice Canayer.

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