EHF European Cup 2017/18 - Article - With new coach, Granollers hope to go all the way
05.02.2018, 13:10◄ last page     

EHF Cup countdown #14: Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP). Playing in the group phase for the fourth straight season, the ambitious Spanish side are looking beyond the quarter-finals

With new coach, Granollers hope to go all the way

Once Granollers, always Granollers. This has been the motto of Carlos Viver. After playing his entire career for the Catalan club, scoring 1,118 goals in over 400 matches, he became part of the coaching staff and finally took over the team in 2014.

In 2016, Viver steered Granollers to the EHF Cup Finals, but in 2017, ‘El Gentleman’ said goodbye to his club and took over the Spanish women’s national team.

His final international challenge with Granollers ended without happy end. They finished the group phase as the fourth-best second-ranked team while only the three best runners-up advance to the quarter-finals.

Right after the end of the group phase, the winners of the EHF Cup in 1995 and 1996 signed their new coach, Antonio Rama. He led Granollers to the group phase again by beating Hungarian side Balatonfüred twice.

Compared to last season, the squad has not changed much. Three of only four international players are among the new arrivals: Brazilian goalkeeper legend Cesar Augusto Almeida, Rolandas Bernatonis of Lithuania and Vukasin Rokocija of Serbia.

The rest of the team mainly consists of players who have gone through the famous Granollers youth programme, like EHF EURO All-star and European Champion Ferran Sole, who left the club in 2016. He has been accompanied at Fenix Toulouse this season by Arnau Garcia, the biggest name to have left Granollers in 2017.

Also, Granollers will have to do without Mamadou Gassama, who has been ruled out by a knee injury since July 2017.

“We hope to make it to the quarter-finals again and be competitive in every match,” coach Rama described his team’s goals before the group matches against Chambéry, Pulawy and Thun.

Rama is eagerly looking forward to his first international experience.

“To be part of the EHF Cup Group Phase and to compete all around Europe is important for the club. Our supporters, our city and our sponsors want to be at this point,” Rama says. “For me it is important because I gain new experiences, another kind of handball, other referees. All of this will enrich me as a coach.”

Granollers are playing their fourth straight group phase this season, and Rama hopes for a little bit more then ‘only’ the quarter-finals: “All German and French teams are my favourites to make it to the EHF Cup Finals at Magdeburg - and BM Granollers, I hope.”

Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP)

Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase 2017/18: Round 3: 28:21, 27:25 against Balatonfüred (HUN)

Newcomers: Rolandas Bernatonis (CSM Bucarest), Vukasin Rokocija (Spartak Vojput), Cesar Augusto Almeida (OIF Arendal), Albert Pujol (BM Huesca), Josep Reixhach (H. Bordils)

Left the club: Arnau Garcia (Fenix Toulouse), Adrià Pérez (BM Huesca), Michal Kasal (Tatran Presov), Pol Sastre (Nice), Vicente Álamo (end of career)

Coach: Antonio Rama (successor of Carlos Viver)

Team captain: David Resina

Opponents in the group matches: Chambery, Pulawy, Thun in Group D

EHF Champions League records:

Other EC records:

EHF Cup:
Winners: 1994/95, 1995/96
EHF Cup Finals: 2015/16 (ranked third)
Semi-finalists: 1996/97
Quarter-finalists: 2004/05
Group Phase: 2014/15, 2016/17

IHF Cup:
Winners: 1975/1976

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Finalists: 2009/10
Quarter-finalists: 2005/06

City Cup:
Semi-finalists: 1993/94

Spanish champions: 1959, 1960, 1961, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974
Spanish cup winners: 1958, 1970, 1974, Asobal League Cup 1994

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew

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