Good movie, but the climax was too earlyArticle
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BLOG: PSG could be in the hunt, but do not discount Metalurg, ehfTV commentator Tom O Brannaigain writes in his blog after the first MOTW of the new season.

Good movie, but the climax was too early

I can never remember what the Boris Trajkovski arena looks like until I roll up that avenue and everything comes flooding back. The arch roof, the ice hockey court and the entrance above the coffe shop. When I enter the entire Macedonian feeling comes flooding back as I see the orange and yellow seats with the flag emblazoned upon them.

All during the week, the birthday boy, Lino Cervar, played down the chances of his team. Not only had he added a further 5 million to the budget of PSG, pumping it to 20 million, but also he had decreased the age profile of his own team expecting us to believe that all and sundry were 20 years old.

It was the classic misdirection worthy of a classic movie. And never should the truth get in the way of a good story and as we know every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end.

Déclenchement: PSG arrive with a plethora of stars, backed up by the newest additions minus Barachet who is injured. In the minds of the Metalurg faithful, they are the bad guy. The villain of the piece. The ones who will suffer at the hands of their heroes.

Enter stage left, the aforementioned men of Macedonia. Armed only with the bravery they will attempt to topple the mighty Parisian empire.

Sounds good so far?

Deroulement: The French machine goes into overdrive during the first 12 minutes of the game, giving the hapless Metalurg no chance. And suddenly, without any prompting, the coach of Paris decides to make what can only be deemed as ad hoc changes.

The balance of the team is disrupted, the centre block of Kopljar and N'Diaye which has repulsed all attacks shows a chink. Metalurg exploit it with Mirkulovski leading the charge. He is a man possessed and he drags his team into the game.  PSG cannot respond and a 7-4 lead becomes an 11-11 draw at half time.

And now two things happen. Lino takes the inspired Stanic out of goal and replaces him with Kocic, who in 4 shots concedes 4 goals. Gardent reverts to the starting line up in defence and attack (except for Gunnarsson in place of Vori) and remains with this formation for 23 minutes.

Dénouement: the difficulties that had plagued Metalurg at the start of the game rear their ugly heads again. They have no answer and the game peters out into a comfortable win for PSG.

The game stands out for me in two very contrasting ways. One is that Lino Cervar's boast that he had a very young team, very inexperienced didn't ring true at the start of the week, but became a self-fulfilling prophesy during the game. Aside from Stanic and Mirkulovski, for large periods, the rest of the team was aged between 20-22.

My feeling is that the coach knew early that he could not win the game and decided to use it as a match to give the young guys some experience. I may be wrong, but at times you know, as a coach, what way the wind is blowing. If so, he will be delighted with Marsenic, Manaskov and Lipovina.

They showed a character belying their years and Marsenic in particular looks a big big find.

The contrast to that is PSG's coach. He has an embarrassment of riches and he chose to mix and match before the game was in the bag. The result could have been catastrophic for him. However, the evergreen Omeyer was there when needed and is a big buy for them. Also when the chips were down, he instantly reverted to his best formation on the day and stayed with that until he was absolutely sure that the game was won.

Was it a good movie? Well it had some decent scenes but the climax was too early. What was interesting is to see how much stronger PSG look than heretofore. They are not the well oiled machine in the attack, but their defence combined with counter play looks awesome and barring injury they could be in the hunt. Metalurg cannot be judged on this game. There is definitely not the winning mentality or possibly skill of previous years, but do not discount them at this early stage.

I left an empty forlorn theatre, where I doubt any of the home fans will want to watch a rerun of this particular film.

TEXT: Tom O Brannagain, ehfTV commentator