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The handball season is winding down and there’s not much happening mid-week except for the good ol’ French LIDL StarLigue with a key match for a club to avoid relegation.
While living in France from 2002-2007 it was a bit annoying to see Montpellier win everything. But, there were a few club sides that would give them a battle and one of those clubs was U.S. Ivry. And, I’ll never forget the 2006-07 season where Ivry led by a young (just 22) and very talented Right Wing/Right Back named Luc Abalo pipped Montpellier for the title. I pity relative newcomers to the sport that think Abalo is just a pretty good wing. You should have seen him play that season where he scored from everywhere and willed Ivry to a title. Yes, he played quite a bit at backcourt and I’ve never seen an undersized back court player dominate the way he did that season.
Unfortunately, thing have gone downhill for Ivry since they won that title. A proud franchise located in the Paris suburbs, that 2006-2007 title was the last of 8 they’ve won (only Montpellier has won more French titles). Since that high water mark they’ve not contended for a title and they even got relegated to the 2nd division for the 2014-15 season, for the first time since 1957. They immediately popped back up to the 1st division, but it’s been a constant fight to stay there.
They now have 2 make up matches left to play and they need to get 3 points to pass Cesson-Rennes and avoid relegation. First up is the tougher of the two tests, a match against 7th place Toulouse on Wednesday. On Saturday, they have and easier task vs 13th place Creteil. Can they do it? It’s possible. In their last match they upset 6th place Chambery.
It may not be the Champions League Final Four, but for the players involved it’s pretty important and therefore handball worth checking out.
Current LIDL StarLigue Standings: Link