|24.03.2017, 13:00||◄ last page|
BLOG: To win against PSG over two legs "Le H" will have to have their heart in the oven, but their head in the fridge, ehfTV commentator Tom O Brannagain insists before the Match of the Week in the first leg of the Last 16
Le H, je l'aime
This week MOTW takes us to the beautiful city of Nantes, an idyllic location on the banks of the Loire, overlooked by the Château des Ducs de Bretagne. They are vying for a place in the last eight and in their way stands the mighty PSG.
To be honest, unless you are a fan of the teams in Group C and D of the Champions League, you probably don't really have a clue what's going on there. The reasoning is simple. If you win the group and win the play-off, then your reward is to play the team that finishes second in either Group A or B.
This has been the view of many (myself included) to wit I claimed that I would do the next hangout naked should any team from C and D progress beyond the L16 stage.
A bogey team is the team that just about always causes you problems. They have a knack of making you play their game and not your own and the inevitable outcome is a loss. I have had the distinct pleasure (and discomfort) of watching Nantes dismantle Paris in the French League this year.
Jokes aside, this is a sports-mad city, with teams from football, basketball, volleyball and handball (both men and women in basket, hand and volley) all competing in the top league in France. It may surprise you to know that twenty years ago this handball club was playing in the 5th division of French handball. There is no doubt that in 2009, they made one of the best decisions in their history by signing Thierry Anti. His ability to coach players to a higher level, to spot talent, to encourage players (particularly Spanish players) to be part of the project has gone a long way to get them to where they are today.
You know my penchant for supporting the underdog, but this goes further. Deep in my veins is a Celt dying to get out. Nantes (Naoned in Breton) is historically and culturally linked with Brittany and forgive me for labouring the point, but to all intents and purposes for this weekend, they will have to call on all their Celtic fervour to beat PSG.
They have experienced their Gergovia and will be keen that over two legs against the might of Paris, that this is not their Alesia.
It may surprise you to know that one of the great science fiction writers of all time was born in Nantes. He believed in the possibility of space travel. His book "From the Earth to the Moon" was a classic, but at the time was considered beyond reality. As we all know now, it has become a reality and therefore why should the fans and players not imagine a possible victory over two legs against their mighty neighbours. Much like Verne's fiction, it's not beyond the realms of possibility.
This is the Champions league. PSG have invested heavily to win it. This is not the French league. The media and the worldwide attention are on a whole other level and the referees will have a CL view of the game. So to all intents and purposes, although both teams are French, this match takes on an international significance. And this can be the difference between history and another season of what might have been. The boys in purple had better harken to the words
TEXT: ehfTV commentator Tom O' Brannagain