The best of the week

lazarov_barcelona

26 December 2016

Every Monday, we bring you everything you need to know and see from the handball news, in France and around the world.

The player : Kiril Lazarov (Barcelona, Macedonia)

For their last game of 2016, Barcelona offered themselves a Christmas present with their fourth domestic title of year. The Blaugrana giant faced Granollers on Tuesday in the Copa ASOBAL final and didn’t really flinch to win this Catalan derby (30-25) and grab their 6th consecutive title in the competition, the 12th overall. After being prominent in the semi-final against La Rioja (five goals), Kiril Lazarov was again the most efficient Barcelona player, scoring nine goals in the final. Already chosen by us as the player of the week three weeks ago, the right back, who is about to join the Macedonian team to prepare the 2017 World Championship, seems quite unstoppable right now.

The number : 11 019

Like the number of spectators who attended the HBC Nantes’ win over the PSG at Hall XXL (37-31) last Thursday. It is a new official attendance record for the Nantes arena. In this electrifying atmosphere, Spanish international David Balaguer (7 goals) and his teammates played an incredible game and outshone the Lidl Starligue leader from start to finish in a very impressive way. The night thus was historical all the way, but the new attendance record might not last very long : in a few days, Hall XXL will be again sold-out for the 2017 World Championship’s group A games, which will feature the French team.

The feat : Rhein-Neckar upsets Kiel

Nantes’s magnificent win over PSG obviously deserved to appear in this section, but Rhein-Neckar achieved an equally breathtaking performance last Wednesday with a tremendous win in Kiel (26-29) in Bundesliga. The “Lions”, whose last win in Sparkassen Arena dated back from 2013, laid down their law to the “Zebras”, thanks to a great game by Swedish international goalkeeper Andreas Palicka (16 saves on 40 shots). With this success, Rhein-Neckar steals Kiel’s second place in the Bundesliga rankings, just behind Flensburg.

The schedule : Bundesliga and preparation to the 2017 World Championship

Unlike almost all of the other European championships, Bundesliga gets back to business after the Christmas week-end, for the last matchday of 2016, which will be played on Monday and Tuesday. For all the internationals who are playing in Germany, it then will be high time to join their respective teams. Most of the 2017 World Championship contenders will begin their preparation phase on the coming week.

The play : Montpellier’s collective masterpiece

For once, this section does not feature a great individual move, but a true collective masterpiece, wonderfullly executed by Montpellier players during the win over Chambéry last Wednesday (29-25). As smooth as it was bold, the 7-pass move left the Savoyard defense with no reaction. Sumptuous indeed.