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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.
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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.

FRANCE
Paris hegemony continues

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.

ITALY
Number eight for goalkeeper Fovio

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.

SWITZERLAND
Fourth double and new coach for Kadetten

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.
And 2016 Kadetten needed all five matches against Wacker Thun to make it again. After both sides won their first two home matches, the fifth game was needed to decide.

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.

SPAIN
Sixth consecutive Asobal league crown for Barcelona

It was another walk-in-the-park season for the Catalan powerhouse who won it last 92 games in a row and have not been defeated in the ASOBAL league for over three years now.

Barca clinched the league title soon after their quarter-final elimination in the VELUX EHF Champions League by THW Kiel and in the final standings the runners-up from Naturhouse La Rioja finished 13 points below the team from Palau Blaugrana.

Although Barcelona was the best scoring team with 1,108 goals their top scorer, Kiril Lazarov (148 goals) was not in the top five scorers of the league as much more players shared the burden of scoring responsibilities throughout the season. Barcelona also dominated in the defence conceding only 718 goals.

The Catalan club established a new league record as they scored 48 goals in an away game at Teucro.

PORTUGAL
Nine-year waiting is over for ABC/UMinho

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.

MALTA
History in the making for Luxol

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.

MONACO

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.
They finished fourth in their group missing the accession in the third league by only one point. Anyway, with the arrival of a couple of foreign players next season, going up will be the definitive goal of the club.

ANDORRA

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

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