Fleury hoping to slow down MidtjyllandArticle
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PREVIEW: Fleury's coach would be satisfied with a five-goal win in the first leg of the Cup Winners' Cup Final.

Fleury hoping to slow down Midtjylland

Fleury Loiret Handball are in their first European final ever, when they take on FC Midtjylland in the first leg of the Women's Cup Winners' Cup final on Sunday.

Midtjylland, on the other hand, have considerable European experience, including several European finals and also the participation in the MVM EHF FINAL4 last year.

Quite naturally, Fleury's coach Fred Bougeant has a lot of respect ahead of the first match in the Palais des Sports Aubrais in Orleans on Sunday at 18:00 hrs local time.

"Just as winning the first trophy in the history of the club last season was a landmark, this first European final is too.

"We want it to be as good as possible, but let's face it, we're not favourites," says Fred Bougeant.

"We're facing a team who is used to the Women's EHF Champions League and who even made it to the MVM EHF FINAL4 last season, and who have a lot more experience than we have.

"Playing the return leg in Denmark makes the task even harder.

"We're not here to learn, though, and I think that our success in the Cup Winners' Cup this season show that we've got the quality to get a result," adds the Fleury coach.

"Tactically, we'll have to lose as few balls as possible, and miss as few shots as possible in order to stop Midtjylland from developing their fast breaks. If we let them run around and score fast goals, we won´t have a chance.

"However, if we can force them to play slowly, and if we score, maybe we can get a good result at home. Going to Denmark with a five-goal advantage sounds like a good thing right now, but to gain it is something else," Fred Bougeant concludes.

If Fleury have respect for Midtjylland, the respect by their Danish adversaries is not any smaller.

"We should not be fooled by the fact that Fleury are debutants in a European final. They have so many experienced players that it doesn't really matter that the club has not been in a final before," FC Midtjylland's head coach Helle Thomsen tells eurohandball.com.

"Fleury have so many great players that we must expect two tough battles. Their back court players in particular will be a challenge for us, I am sure.

"I can easily understand, why they dream of getting a five goal lead with them to Denmark, but in those matches, it's always hard to estimate, what will be a good result.

"Of course, we got to France to win, as we do every time we play, but the match may turn out in a way, where we'll have to be content with being two or three goals down before the return match," explains Helle Thomsen who has all her players fit except for long-term injured Norwegian international Ida Alstad.

The first leg match of the Women's Cup Winners' Cup Final can be watched live on ehfTV on Sunday 18:00 hrs local time.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / Kevin Domas / me