12.06.2015, 10:20◄ last page     

FEATURE: Review of the women's national leagues in Europe. The second part of the series takes a closer look at France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Malta.

National champions of Europe - women part 2: South West

The domestic leagues have come to an end and we now approach the draws of the 2015/16 European season, starting with the Women's EHF Champions League draw on 26 June. In six parts, the spotlight is shone on each of the national champions and their path to glory. The first part is dedicated to teams from France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy and Malta.

France – Fleury Loiret

With their first French league title in club history, Fleury Loiret Handball secure their spot in next season’s Women’s EHF Champions League.

Their path to success was not an easy one though. After finishing first in the regular season, the team of head coach Fred Bougeant had to face tough opponents, meeting Nîmes in the semi-final and Issy-Paris in the final.

Thanks to stellar performances from the likes of Spanish national team players Darly Zoqbi de Paula between the posts and Alexandrina Barbosa at left back, Fleury added a second trophy to their record after winning the French cup last season.

Spain - Balonmano Bera Bera

Two matches before the end of the season the Spanish league saw Bera Bera crowed as the new champions after winning against Rocasa Gran Canaria 24:21.

With only one loss and two draws in the whole season, the basque team that will play in the EHF Cup next season, lift the trophy for the third time in a row.

Taking the the Spanish championship and also the Spanish Supercup, the team of coach Montse Puche take revenge for the defeat against their adversaries from Gran Canaria in the Spanish cup final.

Switzerland - LK Zug

For the second time in a row LK Zug won the Swiss double, winning the cup and the national championship. However, never before were the Swiss finals more thrilling and intense than in this year’s encounters against Spono Nottwil.

The first leg needed to be decided by a penalty shootout, seeing Zug as the lucky winners (33:32) thanks to an outstanding performance of Sibylle Scherer, who netted 15 times and finished the season as topscorer with 192 goals.

The second leg on home group seemed to be clearer with Zug winning 29:25, but Nottwil, led by Lisa Frey, were close to turning the match with the score at 24:25.

"It was simply incredible, pure madness," said youngster Yael Gwerder after the win.

While Zug took their fourth title since 2010, runners-up Nottwil lost their eighth final series in the Swiss championship since 2006.

Portugal - Alavarium

Winning the third championship consecutively, Alavarium have definitely broken Madeira’s hegemony over the Portuguese league. From 1994 to 2009 and also in 2012 Alavarium’s adversaries in the final took the Portuguese championship, but the team from Aveiro has lifted the trophy year after year since 2013

This year’s final series underlined the strong rivalry between the two clubs. The final was so close that the title needed to be decided in a final third match – seeing Alavarium on top with a score of 25:21.

Before that Alavarium Love Tiles won the first leg at home, but Madeira’s win in the second leg pushed the decision to the final third match.

With the advantage of playing at home Alavarium managed to take a six-goal-lead in the first half and did not give Madeira the chance to comeback in the second half. 

Italy - Indeco Amatori Conversano

Indeco Conversano bring a stuttering season to a great end, reaching the first treble in the club’s history by winning the Italian championship, the Italian cup and supercup.

Three defeats during the regular season had been a problem for the team led by captain Stefania Chiarappa. In the second phase, however, Conversano demonstrated their quality, taking the first place with five wins out of six matches.

Eliminating last season’s champions Jomi Salerno in the play-offs and beating Cassano Magnago in the final series in front of more than 3,500 spectators, 28:19 and 26:24, made up for Conversano’s rocky start as they eventually lifted the trophy.

Malta - Aloysians Zmerc

Once again it was captain Brenda Mamo who led her team to the title. With only one defeat and one draw the team of head coach Milos Stanisavljevic reached their sixth women’s league title in the club’s history.

Aloysians Żmerċ were crowned champions on their last match against Swieqi Phoenix with the experienced Romanian player and top scorer Dana Badea (58 goals) being a key element in the successful season.

But coach Stanisavljevic underlines that the decisive factor was the team spirit that boosted each player to give their best for their aim of defending the championship. "It was only because of hard work and team unity that this title could be achieved," he said.

Left back Janice Bonnici added: "It was far from easy for the team to accomplish what we aimed for. Collectively as a team we managed to bring the cup home once again."

TEXT: Adria Barrio, Kevin Domas, Björn Pazen, Luke Zammit, Matteo Aldamonte / me / cor

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