EHF Game of the Week: Will Montpellier’s new arena capture the atmosphere of Rene Bougnol?

ehfTV’s first game of the week (with English language commentary) on Sunday will feature two top sides, Montpellier and Hamburg, christening a brand new arena. Montpellier had previously played all of their matches in the Palais du Sport Rene Bougnol, a small arena with a capacity of 3,000. Now Montpellier will play its “big games” in a new arena, simply called l’Arena which can hold 9,000. This larger venue should help Montpellier get the revenue it needs to compete with the top clubs in the Champions League. All well and good, but will the new arena have the same atmosphere and magic as the old one?

I never stepped foot in Rene Bougnol, but as Montpellier was always (and I mean always) on TV while I was living in France it still is like saying goodbye to an old friend. With its distinctive arced stand and vocal crowd it was the scene for some remarkable Champions League games where top teams lost by a whole lot more than they should have. Most notably, it was the site where Montpellier won the Champions League in 2003 when they overcame an 8 goal aggregate deficit from the first match with a 12 goal slaying of Portland San Antonio. And it was where Montpellier annihilated a Flensburg side by a seemingly safe 14 goals in 2005. But perhaps as Chekov showed last year with their penalty shoot out win the luck of old Rene Bougnol had run its course. Will the new arena start a new run? Time will tell, but this match could be an indicator. The handicap line is 0 goals for this match.

The game will start at 1700 in France and 1100 hrs on the U.S. East Coast.
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