The march was far too high for the handball players of Metz in the semi-finals of the Champions League, against the defending champions of Kristiansand, carried by the Norwegian goalkeeper Katrine Lunde and the Czech left-back Marketa Jerabkova, Saturday in Budapest.

Metz’s first experience in the Champions League Final 4 three seasons ago was frustrating. With a prestigious squad (Béatrice Edwige, Laura Glauser, Laura Flippes, Manon Houette, Grâce Zaadi, Méline Nocandy, Orlane Kanor), Emmanuel Mayonnade’s players had missed the first fifteen minutes against Rostov, and lost a small goal.

Three seasons later, Zaadi was still present, just like Nocandy and Kanor, but the Messines left the Budapest Dome on Saturday June 4, without too many regrets, beaten by six goals (33-27), falling for sixty minutes on the goalkeeper, Katrine Lunde, who, at 42, continues her exceptional performances (16 saves). “Lunde, she single-handedly beats us, she single-handedly kills the game. And we, behind, we can’t padlock everything so that our goalkeepers make more saves, “summarized very well Méline Nocandy, who will leave her training club for Paris 92, at the end of the match for third place. Sunday against the Danes of Esbjerg.

The Messines managed in the first period to recover from a first gap of five goals in favor of Kristiansand (13-8), to return in front just before the break on a goal from left winger Laura Kanor (15-14) . The Messin return was made possible by the fine entry of Mélanie Halter, who released the ball from 6 on Nora Mork, sounding the revolt. “If I caricaturized a bit, I would say that Melanie’s entry allows us to stabilize the gap and come back, and her second-half downstroke allows the opponent to recreate the gap. We should have been consistent for an hour, ”notes Metz coach Emmanuel Mayonnade.

“We are missing a lot of little things”

Because after having mastered the return from the locker room, the Messines again came up against Lunde, and Halter’s effect of surprise on the Norwegian attack completely evaporated. Unlike the first period, Kristiansand did not completely squander their seven-goal lead, and were able to control the end of the game.

“In their game, we knew everything they were going to do,” plague Méline Nocandy, as the Messines had beaten Kristiansand twice in the group stage matches, in Moselle and Norway. Czech left-back Marketa Jerabkova was unplayable in attack, with 12 goals, all in play, and an insolent 75% success.

“We are missing a lot of little things to make the switch. We have an air pocket in the middle of the second half which clearly hurts our heads. We never found the resources to come back, as the opponent put us in difficulty, ”adds Emmanuel Mayonnade.

The Dragonnes have about twenty hours to rest and try to get third place, so as not to leave Hungary as in 2019 with two defeats. “I will have to find the resources in five minutes, explain that in the desire of the structure to progress, we must validate this kind of match for 3rd place”, slipped Mayonnade after the meeting.

For the European title, they will follow from the stands of the Dome in Budapest – 14,800 spectators on Saturday – the challenge of Kristiansand against Györ’s dream squad (Stine Oftedal, Estelle Nze Minko, Silje Solberg, Laura Glauser), for Amandine Leynaud’s farewell to handball, after a controlled success against Esbjerg (32-27) from the Hungarian club.