giovedì 21 maggio 2015

France: 35th title for Marseille

Of course, with 35 titles won, Marseille is still far from the national record of Tourcoing (46 titles between 1909 and 1964), but the victory (16-11) against Montpellier in the second leg of the French final is the logical culmination of the season of a young team whose future looks very promising.

By winning the first game of the final (14-10) in Montpellier, Marseille had seriously begun the suspense for the conquest of the title. However the team of Montpellier, that many said aging and almost overwhelmed, surprised everyone by perfectly mastering its semifinal. Also nobody really wanted to believe in the title until it was officially won. In fact, everybody recalled that in last year’s final (played in one game), Marseille had virtually won the title six seconds from the end, and ultimately lost it on a penalty shootout.

In front of a rather good audience (+/- 750 people), with an impressive number of Montpellier fans (+/- 200), the match started on a very offensive basis. After a minute of observation, Thibaut Simon opened the scoring (1-0). But Montpellier played jauntily its chance and quickly replied, even taking the lead after five minutes (2-3). It was out of question for Marseille to leave the slightest hope to the (still) reigning Frenchchampion, and in less than ninety seconds, Marseille took the lead again and ended the first period ahead (5-3). The game was already very physical and tension did not fall. Perhaps because of the nervousness created by the gap already made by Marseille (8-5, 13th minute), but also because of an unsanctioned received kick, we can hope involuntary, by Rémi Saudadier who reacted too strongly, was definitely excluded for aggressiveness. This "incident", however, was not enough to calm down the tension and it is regrettable that referees have not been much stricter from the kickoff. This would undoubtedly have made the game much more fluid and enjoyable to watch.

Led 9-5 (end of 2nd period) and deprived of one of its best players, Montpellier nevertheless succeeded to stabilize the gap (12-9, 25th minute). Alas, the spirits were still far too hot and contacts between players too physical. After a scuffle, Uros Kalinic creaked and gave a punch to his opponent. With its leading scorer of the finals phase excluded, and a playing man-down for four minutes, Montpellier did quite well and Marseille could not increased the gap (14-11, 30th minute). Although it was then clear that Montpellier would not retain its title (they should have been scoring 8 goals in two minutes!), Fabien Vasseur’s players however did not despaired to a victory of prestige. Sensing the danger and willing to assert their superiority, provencal players closed the score by two goals of Logan Piot (4 goals in the match), and won a well-deserved victory (16-11). In these circumstances, it is quite sad that the last "action" of this match was the definitive exclusion for aggressiveness of John Mann, Marseille’s centre-forward, with thirty seconds left.

With a team largely renewed and strengthened during summer of 2014 (5 international players arrived), the title could not seem to escape Marseille. However the season was not as easy as expected, but the final victory in Pro A League, after the Cup of the League win in march, explain that Marseille can legitimately be proud of its team. Montpellier, that several people were not waiting in the final, showed its pugnacity and did its best possible with a team whose roster is slowly changing. By cons, players may regret their glaring inefficiency on man-up, especially in the two games of this final (31 man-up situations, against 20 for Marseille). A better percentage, even simply medium, in this strategic situation would certainly have allowed the 2014 champion to really play to win.

Last really negative point in terms of promoting water polo: no one really understood why the club of Marseille did not want and allow this final to be broadcasted on the internet, nor that a national television crews can film during this event. This seems absolutely incomprehensible and it is very surprising that the Promotional League, who manages the Pro A championship, accepted or tolerated this situation.

The response by Marseille however clarified:

'We didn't allow the broadcast because the League warned us about this opportunity only a few days before the final. We organise an international tournament for kids, the 'Pepito’s Cup', every year and we had decided to schedule it during the weekend of the final. Everything was ready to receive the 5 teams (75 people) from Italy, Spain and France. The schedules were ready, and so was the volunteer team.
Because of the, promotion of water polo we wanted all the kids to watch the final after their games and this is why the swimming pool was full of people on Saturday.'

Bronze medal

In the match for third place, Nice, who had won in Strasbourg (7-9), played with fire in its pool. For transportation problems (it was a bank holiday weekend in France), Strasbourg came with only nine players, and one already imagined the Alsatians beaten quite widely. In response, but also because a large number of missed opportunities (especially on man-up) by Nice, Strasbourg could maintain hope for a victory in this match, and even a final third place. Fortunately, Laversanne Manual (3 goals), in great shape, helped his team by making a real gap in the third period (7-4, 20th minute). Despite the gain in the last period (0-2), Strasbourg failed only one goal of Nice (final score: 7-6).

Marseille’s championship team : Rémi Garsau (GK & Cap) – Logan Piot – Mathias Olivon – Pierre Chandieu – John Mann (USA) – Sébastien Monneret – Thibaut Simon – Ugo Crousillat (FRA/MNE) – Guillaume Dino – Tyler Martin (AUS) – Igor Kovacevic – Enzo Khasz – Alexandre Camarasa - Dorian Manca – Olivier Chandieu (coach) – Jean-Marie Olivon (assistant coach)

Marseille French champion 2015 – La Provence/Guillaume Ruoppolo

French Pro A League

Results : finals 2nd leg.

Gold medal : Marseille – Montpellier  16 – 11 (5-3, 4-2, 3-3, 4-3) – (1st leg : 14 – 10)
Bronze medal : Nice – Strasbourg   7 – 6 (3-2, 1-2, 3-0, 0-2) – (1st leg : 9 – 7)

Final classification.

1- Marseille                    Champion of France – Qualified for Champions League
2- Montpellier                Qualified for Euroleague
3- Nice                            Qualified for Eurocup
4- Strasbourg                 Qualified for Eurocup
5- Aix-en-Provence
6- Lille
7- Douai
8- Sète
9- Noisy
10- Saint-Jean d’Angély   Relegated to National 1st division

Top scorers

1- Oscar Carrillo (ESP – Aix-en-Provence) 70 goals
2- Robin Lindhout (NED – Lille)  65
3- Marko Bratic (CRO – Strasbourg)  60 
4- David Babic (SLO – Nice)  58
4- Alexandre Camarasa (Marseille)  58
6- Gerard Reixach-Boix (EST – St-Jean d’Angély)  57
7- Ugo Croussillat (Marseille)  56
8- Nikola Sutic (CRO – Strasbourg)  47
9- Mathieu Peisson (Montpellier)  46
9- Thibaut Simon (Marseille)  46

Best coach (elected by clubs)

1- Olivier Chandieu (Marseille)
2- Sébastien Bérenguel (Strasbourg)
3- Thomas Bourdet (Douai)

Best player (elected by clubs)

1- Oscar Carrillo (ESP – Aix-en-Provence)
2- David Babic (SLO – Nice)
3- Alexandre Camarasa (Marseille)

Best goalkeeper (elected by clubs)
1- Gabor Jaszberenyi (HUN – Montpellier) 
2- Rémi Garsau (Marseille)
3- Billy Noyon (Sète)

Best youngster (20 and under) (elected by clubs)

1- Charles Canonne (Douai)
2- Guillaume Dino (Marseille)
3- Cédric Rocchietta (Montpellier)

Best referee (elected by clubs)

1- Pascal Bouchez
2- Benjamin Mercier
3- Christophe Vanhems

Thanks to Eric Dupont.

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