LAST 16 MOTW PREVIEW: Montpellier won by five goals at home against Kielce on Sunday (33:28), but face a tough challenge against the title holders.
Kielce facing Montpellier with their backs against the wall
2015/6 VELUX EHF Champions League winners KS Vive Tauron Kielce are down by five (33:28) going into the second leg of their Last 16 match against Montpellier - and it could have been worse after their performance last week. The battle for the champions to come back from the dead will bs a fascinating spectacle and for that reason, it is the 'Match of the Week'.
Five-goal win (33:28) for Montpellier was the biggest advantage of all the Last 16 first leg matches
In their five matches against each other, Montpellier have only won twice - last week and two seasons ago in Poland
Top scorers in the first leg were Diego Simonet with eight for Montpellier, Karol Bielecki scored seven for Kielce
LAST 16, SECOND LEG
KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) vs Montpellier HB (FRA) (First Leg – 28:33)
Sunday 2 April, 18:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com: Match of the Week (MOTW)
Will Kielce continue the tradition of the curse of VELUX EHF Champions League winners not lifting the trophy two seasons in a row?
Nothing is sure yet, but the Polish side will have to play near-perfect handball in the return leg against Montpellier on Sunday (2 April) if they do not want to add their name to the list, next to FC Barcelona or SG Flensburg-Handewitt.
Down by five, but not out
They face an uphill struggle as their performance last Sunday in France saw them defeated by five (38:22) as the side from Poland misplaced passes and were not effective enough on defence to stop Diego Simonet and his team-mates. Only an impressive performance by Filip Ivic in goal prevented the title-holders returning home with an even bigger deficit.
Despite the disappointment, defender Piotr Chrapkowski is confident his team will show another side of their game at home. “With the back-up of our fans, we can reach the impossible [and qualify through],” he said. “But if we do as many silly mistakes as we did in the first leg we won't be able to win.
“We'll have to put Montpellier under pressure from the start and try to make them panic a little bit.”
Kielce coach Talant Dujshebaev was particularly angry with the result, highlighting that it was not so much the French side winning as his side losing. “We missed so many things and turned over so many balls,” he said. “I can only say that we gave them the win.”
Last 16 curse for French
On the French side of the court, Montpellier want to avoid another curse, but one more personal, as, for the last two years, they have been eliminated in the Last 16 by just a few goals. Last year the culprit was SG Flensburg-Handewitt and two seasons ago it was their opponents Kielce.
Despite having won by two in Poland (33:31) in the second leg, it was not enough for Patrice Canayer and his boys to make up for the first loss (29:25 at home). But this time, they have no intention to see the scenario repeat itself.
“We're going to go out there with the intention to win,” said line player Ludovic Fabregas. “If we start calculating [the possibilities] then that's when we're dead.
“The point is not to go to Poland and not to lose by five goals, or by four or whatever. If we play 120%, just like we did in the first leg, then we might have a chance to win.”
Match of the Week strength?
Will the fact that for the first time this season Montpellier will be on ehfTV’s ‘Match of the Week’ give them any extra strength?
Nantes, the other team to come out of groups C and D this season, did a very good job against Paris, drawing in their first leg and if Montpellier were to qualify, having two teams in the quarter-finals would be a first for French handball.
“We're nowhere near qualifying yet,” said Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer. “I've often said that having a young team might be a disadvantage sometimes, but that in big confrontations, it might work our way.
“My players won't have to calculate in Poland, they'll have to forget about the five goals advantage we have right now.”
TEXT: Kevin Domas / amc