Powerful Göppingen secure third place
Montpellier HB were ahead for almost 50 minutes, but finally Frisch Auf Göppingen celebrated with their fans in Flensburg: The four-time EHF Cup winners from Germany beat two-time Champions League winners Montpellier 33:29 to secure third place at the EHF Finals Men 2023.
Goalkeeper Marin Sego had some great saves in the last 10 minutes, Jaka Malus scored the decisive goal for 32:28 after Kresimir Kozima paved the winners’ way with a key strike, and the defence block of Josip Sarac and Blaz Blagotinsek stood like a rock — the ‘Balkan boys’ and top scorer Marcel Schiller (six goals) were the keys to success for Göppingen. Montpellier fought strong, but were overrun in the final stages of the match.
3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH
Montpellier HB (FRA) vs Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) 29:33 (17:16)
- like in their semi-final defeat against Granollers, Göppingen made a number of mistakes in the beginning and were punished easily by a Stas Skube-steered Montpellier. The French side pulled ahead to 9:5 and kept this margin for a while
- Göppingen improved after a timeout, were more efficient in attack and were close to levelling the result in the last 10 minutes of the first half, as their defence and goalkeeper Daniel Rebmann stood stronger. But still Montpellier were ahead thanks to their young duo of Julien Bos and Yanis Lenne, who combined for nine of 17 goals
- right after the break, Göppingen finally managed to level the result and took their first lead at 21:20, forcing Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer to take a timeout when his side was down 24:25
- in crunch time, both goalkeepers entered the spotlight: Charles Bolzinger (Montpellier) and Marin Sego (Göppingen), who previously played for Montpellier, made some spectacular saves, including Sego stopping a Bos penalty in style and finally deciding the encounter
- Sego’s saves boosted Göppingen to enter the winners’ path, although Sarac received a red card after his third suspension in minute 55
Göppingen’s power beats Montpellier’s elegance
The playing style of the two teams was quite different: Montpellier were more elegant, counting on the skills of playmaker Stas Skube and the Lenne brothers — Yanis and Arthur — and their high-speed attacks, while Göppingen counted on power and physical strength mainly from their ‘Balkan boys’ Sarac, Blagotinsek or Kozina.
The key factors neutralised each other after Montpellier’s flying start. But in the final stages, when the batteries of both sides were draining, Göppingen could better rely on their rotation, though they had to replace team captain Tim Kneule and Sebastian Heymann after injuries in their semi defeat. Montpellier’s top scorers were Bos with seven strikes and Kyllian Villeminot with six.
Montpellier are a really good team. We had put everything into yesterday’s semi-final and we were disappointed. It was hard to motivate, but we showed character as a team — we played like a team, we stayed to our plan, and in the last 10 minutes we brought it home.