A fortress in the AlpsArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 4: Chambery Savoie (FRA)

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A fortress in the Alps

Consistency on the bench is one key factor at Chambery Savoie. For 15 years Philippe Gardent has been the head coach of the French runners-up, who participate in the VELUX EHF Champions League for the seventh time.

Last season the team from the Alps reached the Last 16 in the VELUX EHF Champions League although having been drawn into in the "group of death" with opponents like later-on title winners Barcelona, THW Kiel, Rhein Neckar Löwen or Kielce from Poland.

This season Barcelona again is one of their opponents in the Group Stage – and the objectives in Chambery remained the same, too: to reach the Last 16 and then trying to go on to the Quarterfinals.

Big rivals from Montpellier

In France Chambery eliminated Montpellier in the National Cup, but in the end they could not stop the dominance of the Karabatic team in the league.

In this season’s preparation it was the same: In the final of the famous Eurotounoi tournament in Strasbourg they lost against Montpellier, after beating Granollers and Veszprem in the first round.

Young reinforcements

Coach Gardent can count on almost the same squad as last season, as only Guillaume Saurina left the club. By signing only young talented French players Chambery remained on their typical and traditional way.

Almost a newcomer is French international Bertrand Roine who recovered from a long-term injury and will be back right for the start of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Learning from the best

For club manager Laurent Munier the participation at the VELUX EHF Champions League is "a great opportunity for our young team to fight against the biggest clubs in Europe. We have a strong group, our chance to reach the Last 16 is not a dream, but a strong wish and goal.

In our group the favourites of course are defending champions Barcelona and also Zagreb. But in the VELUX EHF Champions League there are no small teams competing. That is why this competition is so interesting for the fans, the sponsors, and also the broadcasters.

For our club it is also important to see how the best teams in the world work on their marketing, ticketing and communication skills. The way they organise the show during the matches is also an important opportunity for us to learn more about incentives."

By looking upon the future Munier hopes that his team in two or three years is experienced enough to qualify for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 with the best team in Europe.

Captain demands good position

For team captain Edin Basic (in Chambery since 2009) the Group Stage will be something special, as he will face his Bosnian mates from Bosna Gas Sarajevo.

"For me the most important thing is to win every home match and to try to win at least two away games – especially in my city of Sarajevo. In this case we could qualify for the Last 16 from a good position – maybe as second or third in our group."

Three questions to the coaches Philippe Gardent and Mario Cavalli

ehfCL.com: What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Philippe Gardent: Our first goal is to beat every team at home and to qualify for the Last 16. Barcelona and Zagreb are favourites, but we must be aware of the strength of the other teams. Last year in the Last 16 Schaffhausen proved at home against Montpellier that they are able to beat anyone, also Sarajevo will be difficult to beat away.

ehfCL.com: What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Philippe Gardent and Mario Cavalli: For the whole season we fight in the French League to reach the VELUX EHF Champions League. This competition represents the best for the players, and for us the VELUX EHF Champions League means the possibility to play against the best teams in the world.

ehfCL.com: What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Philippe Gardent and Mario Cavalli: Barcelona – because they must fight to defend their title. Kiel – because they missed the VELUX EHF FINAL4 last year and they are a big competitor. Hamburg – because they learn so fast every season. Montpellier – because they have been missing the VELUX EHF FINAL4 twice in 2010 and 2011 in the last minute.

Club facts – Chambery Savoie HB (FRA)

Newcomers: Olivier Marroux, Guillaume Marroux, Yannick Palma, Thomas Capella, Pierre Paturel, Timothey N’Guessan
Left the club: Saurina Guillaume
Coach: Philippe Gardent, since 1996

Qualification for the 2011/2012 VELUX EHF Champions League season: French runners-up

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 7
Last 16 (3): 2003/2004, 2006/2007, 2010/2011
Main Round (1): 2008/2009
Group Phase (2): 2001/2002, 2009/2010

French champions: 2001 (runners-up: 1998,1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)

French Cup winners: - (finalist: 2002, 2005, 2009, 2011)

Further information

Find more information on Chambery Savoie HB HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen