Marseille win finally and leave disappointments behind

Group B, Day 4 – CN Marseille (FRA) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 14-7

The first three days didn’t bring much to cheer about for Marseille – a home draw with OSC, followed by two bitter defeats against direct rivals Jug and FTC, and the French already fell back in the race for the F8 berths. At the same time, Spandau, after a tough home loss to Novi Beograd, which was anyway in the cards, managed to earn back-to-back draws in Sabadell and in the home of OSC (both ended 9-9), so the Germans might have dreamt of something big.

And they held tight during the first half, Marseille – playing under pressure as it was a must-win game – couldn’t build on their fine start, and after jumping to a 2-0 lead, their level dropped. Spandau pulled one back, then denied them in three man-downs in a row. What’s more, Dmitri Kholod converted a penalty for 2-2 early in the second, while Marseille missed two more 6 on 5s. The third came after a time-out, and Andrija Prlainovic used all his experience to send the ball to the net from the back after an almost 10-minute-long scoring break. Marseille missed a penalty, but later Ante Vukicevic could add a man-up goal 14 seconds before the middle break for 4-2.

Now Spandau started fading in offence, they missed back-to-back 6 on 5s at the beginning of the third and that practically cost them the game as in the following 1:44 minutes the French hit three, two man-ups and a great centre goal by Vladan Spaic, and it was clear that after 7-2 there was no way back for the Germans.

They also had a painfully long scoreless phase of exactly 13 minutes – in this game it caused irreversible damages. They could net a couple of goals still in the third, however, Marseille also used the chances well and held a comfortable 9-5 lead before the last break. From here they didn’t let it go, indeed they were in control and did a clean job in the final eight minutes where they could net five more to grab their first win with a convincing performance.

How they saw it

Milos Scepanovic, coach, Marseille

“We are relieved. It was an important game, like a final. We have had four games so far, we did well in all, but didn’t manage to win in the first three. We were aware that it was difficult to go after the teams and reach the Final Eight – still, the reaction of my team was excellent. Tonight, they refused to lose and I’m so proud of them for that. It was tough to prepare for this match mentally and it wasn’t that amazing at the beginning, but we managed to resolve the problems and could play aggressively not only in defence but also in attack, and that was the key to win comfortably.”

Athanasios Kechagias, coach, Spandau

“Marseille obviously played better than us. It was a big battle, but we didn’t have the energy in the second half which would have been necessary to be on level with them. I need to analyse this match, rewatch the video but what I’ve told you was my first impression.”