|11.06.2016, 12:00||◄ last page|
DOMESTIC LEAGUES: The powerhouses of this Europe's corner FC Barcelona Lassa and PSG have maintained their top positions, while ABC returned to the Portuguese throne after a nine-year drought.
National champions of Europe – Men part 2: South-west
All domestic leagues have come to an end and we now approach the draws of the 2016/17 European season. In six parts, the spotlight is shone on each of the national champions and their path to glory. The second part of the men's series consists of teams from France, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Italy, Switzerland, Andorra and Monaco.
In France, titleholders and recent VELUX EHF FINAL4 participant Paris Saint-Germain managed to win the league again. Losing only three games, including two after their crown was already secured, PSG remained the most regular of all participants.
Helped by best league scorer Mikkel Hansen, the Parisians finished ten points ahead of second Saint-Raphaël, while Nantes finished third and Montpellier fourth.
The league was the only national title for Nikola's Karabatic team-mates, though, since Montpellier beat them twice in the national cup finals.
On the other side of the Alps the men of Junior Fasano won the second title of their history, after the 2014 one. The club from south Italy won both legs of the final against Bozen after these two rivals met already for the third time in a row in the final. The Italian goalkeeper Vito Fovio won this year its eighth national title in his career.
Winning the league was not the done thing for Fasano though, since they had lost more games than their opponent in the regular season. But they showed their true spirits in the play-off rounds, which saw them defeat Capri before winning the final.
Kadetten Schaffhausen again demonstrated their dominance by taking the trophy for the ninth time within eleven years, adding the Swiss cup and thus their fourth double to their club cabinet.
Only four days after winning the cup final against St. Gallen 32:28, a thrilling and exciting final series in the best-of-five mode started.
3,150 fans in the sold-out BBC Arena witnessed a true thriller, which was open until the final stages, but Kadetten took a 30:28 win at the end and consequently the trophy as well after a season in which coach Markus Baur was sacked and replaced by Dane Lars Walther.
Another icing on the cake was the “best player of the season” award for Kadetten’s Hungarian playmaker Gabor Csaszar.
In the past seven years, FC Porto dominated the national championship and, this year, it seemed that the history would repeat after a first stage with 24 consecutive wins.
However, SL Benfica eliminated the seven-time national champions in the semi-finals and the title fight was between Mariano Ortega’s team and ABC/UMinho. The two teams also met in the Challenge Cup’s final and played together seven times within one month.
Carlos Resende’s team from Braga was forced to find solutions to injuries that affected the players and as both rivals took advantage of the home courts in the first four games, the best-of-five series culminated in the thrilling decider in Braga.
Also courtesy of a great defending performance of Humberto Gomes ABC recorded the extra-time win and clinched their 13th national title ending a title-drought which started from 2006/07.
Luxol Handball Club won the men’s league for the very first time after beating Aloysians in the last game of the season.
The league proved to be an interesting affair between the two teams. Luxol and Aloysians had a good first round having dropped no points. In the second round, Aloysians opened a five point lead as Luxol dropped points to a draw and a loss.
A loss two games before the end by Aloysians gave new hope to Luxol who did not falter in their mission to win the last game, beating Aloysians 26:19 to win the title.
In Monaco, even though there is no national championship, there is still a club and AS Monaco is taking part in the fourth French league.
There is no national competition in the tiny Pyrenean country as both of its men’s clubs are playing in the Catalan regional competition system.
TEXT: Kevin Domas, Adria Barrio, Filipa Sousa, Björn Pazen, Matteo Aldamonte, Luke Zammit / br