Descat and Montpellier in search of “two perfect games”
Hugo Descat arrived at Montpellier HB in 2019, a year after the club had lifted the EHF Champions League trophy for the second time.
Since then, the left wing has played against Lomza Vive Kielce twice – and won both times.
Overall, Descat is aware the two teams have a history of close matches.
“From all these games, I think everybody knows that everything is possible. Montpellier won the two times I played with them against Kielce, so it makes me think that the confrontation will be way more open than some believe it will be,” he said.
Kielce won a group that featured the likes of Barça, Paris Saint-Germain HB, Telekom Veszprém HC, and SG Flensburg-Handewitt, so for many they enter the quarter-final tie with Montpellier as favourites.
Even more so, Montpellier have been hit by a string of injuries lately, ruling team captain Valentin Porte, Yanis Lenne and Julien Bos out for the home leg on Thursday (live on EHFTV at 20:45 CEST.)
While some teams might be left without any solution with so many important players out, Descat believes it will be rather an opportunity to shine for others.
“It is not in my habit to cry over spilled milk. At this level of competition, there is no room for excuses. The ones that will be playing will have to play an even better game, so we can make it through.”
The notable absentees will also force Descat himself even more in the spotlights.
In his third season in the South of France, the left wing has developed into one of the leaders on the court.
Not only is he Montpellier’s leading scorer with 65 goals, he is also one of the players who speak up – in good times and in bad times.
“Leaders are chosen by the coach, not me,” Descat said. “I am just trying to be myself. I am not going to play any differently because players are injured. But, of course, it is my duty to give everything so that we can make it to Cologne again.”
The two-time champion are approaching the top the EHF Champions League again – after one year in the EHF European League, where they lost in the quarter-finals to eventual finalists Füchse Berlin.
Wins against THW Kiel, FC Porto or HC Vardar 1961 have given head coach Patrice Canayer and his team the confidence they need heading into the tie with Kielce.
“With us, it is all or nothing. Either we are magical or terrible. We know what we can do, but we also know what we are missing in order to be on the top,” Descat said.
So, Montpellier will need “two perfect games” against Kielce in order to qualify for the EHF FINAL4 2022 on 18/19 June.
“Over the course of one game, we can do anything, we clearly have our chance,” Descat said.
“Kielce are an impressive team, they beat Barça twice and finished first of their group, but that does not count anymore.”
With us, it is all or nothing. Either we are magical or terrible. We know what we can do, but we also know what we are missing in order to be on the top.
Descat, who won the Olympic title with France last summer, believes that the outsider tag might help Montpellier in the end.
“Playing the second leg at home is often seen as an advantage, but it can also turn clearly turn against you,” the left wing said.
“If we manage to be still in the run after the first game, then maybe we can use that to our advantage and put pressure on Kielce.”