BLOG: Forget about style, worry about resultsArticle
«Go back

BLOG: ehfTV commentator Tom O Brannagain borrows a famous quote from an ice-hockey legend to describe winning imperatives for both Montpellier and Rhein-Neckar before their Match of the Week clash in the Round 7.

BLOG: Forget about style, worry about results

I defy anyone to try and explain what is happening in Group C of the VELUX EHF Champions League. On one hand we have the victorious Veszprem, seemingly unable to do any wrong, and then you have the rest. It is a group where no result can be quantified, explained or predicted and this week's MOTW is no exception.

On Saturday, we visit the south of France for the meeting of MAHB and RNL. Each sits pretty on six points, although the fact that Montpellier have met Medvedi twice, gives them a more false position. The fact is that at home the French are not a “gimme” having drawn against the mighty Vardar and drawn against the equally poor Russians. By contrast RNL have been disastrous on the road, losing to both Vardar and Veszprem, and then against Celje.

So “Les Héraultais” as they are affectionately known, because they come from the department in France called “Hérault”, will know much more come Saturday as to whether or not they could clinch fourth spot.

If I may dabble in a little French wordplay here, take away the “L”, And you're left with “Héraut”, which in English is a herald. The question on Saturday is whether the game will herald a new dawn for Montpellier. If they win, then I assume “Héraut” will become “Héros”.

It's been a long time since they could claim to be kings of France. The CL title of 2003 is a distant memory. The French title has been lacking in their cabinet for a few years. Add to that a disappointing EHF Cup Final last season, the scandal of a few years ago and there hasn't been much to crow about in Montpellier for a while.

But this swashbuckling team might just be the ones to restore some pride in the southern region. They currently sit top of the French league. Yes they have one of the worst goals against record in the competition (only Medvedi have shipped more goals), but despite this meretricious defence, their mercurial attack is one of the best in Europe.

With six matches played, only Barcelona have scored more goals. There is a sense that attack is the best form of defence and if you score one we will score one more. The result is that they have conceded 30+ goals in all but one game, but they can score 30+, which makes for spectacular handball to watch.

“Les Lions” have been either exceptional or exasperating. Funnily enough, their results, defensively, are as sound as last year, yet they don't seem to be quite doing it. Maybe the defeat to Celje last week is clouding my judgment, but watching the game, I felt, they were never really at the races. I consider the result, no offence to Celje, a bit of an aberration.

As you know by now, I love a little quote, so as Oscar Wilde might have said, if he were a handball blogger:

“To lose one match you should have won may be regarded as unfortunate, to lose both looks like carelessness”

No wins on the road means RNL need to win this game. There are no ifs, buts or maybes. Landin needs to be at the peak of his powers as they meet this tsunami of scoring. Kneer and Guardiola need to shore up the centre if they are to win, otherwise this constantly evolving attack will rip them to shreds.

They met earlier in the season and RNL won that game by 11 goals. Their defence in that game was very parsimonious. Montpellier looked, at that time, like a team that didn't belong in the CL.

That's all changed, and the draw at home to Vardar might have given them added belief. But that's just it with “Les Héraultais”, you never know what you're going to get. They have the perfect result symmetry, 2W 2D 2L.

Against Vardar they were “Les Héros”
Against Veszprem they were “Les Hommes”
Against Medvedi they were “Les Heureux”
The Blue Foxes face the Yellow Baden Lions.
Who will be “Les Honorés”

If the philosophy that defence wins games is sound, then the Germans could pick up their first points away from home, however if attack is the best form of defence then MAHB will win.

As the great Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins once said: "Forget about style, worry about results."

Lord help “Beat the Expert” this week.
I defy anyone to guess the result.

Follow the Round 7 Match of the Week live and with Tom's English commentary on Saturday 29 November at 21:00 hrs local time on ehfTV

TEXT: Tom O Brannagain, ehfTV commentator