While the World Championships is Handball‘s premier event, there’s a lot to be said for the quality and level of play in the European Champions League as well. Most of the same top players are featured in this competition and if Ciudad Real or Kiel were a country, I would have to like their odds of making the final.
With the first round of the competition over there are a lot fewer pretenders left. The new format this year with the top 16 teams playing in four groups of four also means that there will be some pivotal matches in the next 4 weeks. Some clubs are in the hole, based on the two matches they took with them from the first round, but every club still controls their own destiny.
One matchup this weekend brings back memories of what has to be the most compelling match I’ve ever seen. I am, of course talking about Montpellier’s miraculous 32-19 loss versus Flensburg back in 2005. No, there’s no typo in that last sentence. Having beaten Flensburg 36-22 a week earlier in France, Montpellier saw a determined Flensburg team slowly peck away at their 14 goal lead on the return leg to take over on aggregate in the 59th minute.
Montpellier had one last chance to cut the lead to 13. You have to ask yourself, how does the shortest player on the court, a lefty no less from the left hand side, score this goal?
Video: Gregory Anquetil last second 9 meter throw vs. Flensburg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxwlwul4G70
Also, subject to EHFtv video availability and my own schedule I will call either the Zagreb – Chambery or the Montpellier – Flensburg match. If you wait for the on demand video to become available at EHFtv.com www.ehftv.com you can even watch/listen without knowing the final score.