“Two warrior matches”, the shared views of Charles-Bolzinger and Samir Bellahcene before the Montpellier-Kiel clash

“Two warrior matches”, the shared views of Charles-Bolzinger and Samir Bellahcene before the Montpellier-Kiel clash

Samir Bellahcene and Charles Bolzinger face each other this Wednesday in the Handball Champions League. Photo RDH, JMM and MAXPPP

The two goalkeepers from Kiel and Montpellier give their take on their double confrontation, the first round of which will take place this Wednesday, April 24, at 8:45 p.m. at the FDI Stadium.

Samir, what are the qualities of Charles ?

Samir Bellahcene:He has a physique which is a big advantage in today's handball. He knows how to use it very well. He goes to the ground very quickly, he is very explosive, he takes up a lot of space and he has worked really well on his positioning quality. That makes him a great goalkeeper for the future. He is already a very good goalkeeper. His technique, flexibility and speed to get to the ground are great qualities.

And for you Charles what are the qualities of Samir ?

Charles Bolzinger: His competitive character, which is very strong. I already knew it but I discovered it even more in the French team. He wants to win everything, every little game! And then his placement and reading skills are what make him strong. He remains explosive in everything he does. He’s a very good guardian for that too.

Bio express

Samir Bellahcene
29 years old, born &agrav; Montpellier.
1.91 m, 120 kg.
Clubs: Montpellier (2016-2017), Massy (2017-2018), Dunkirk (2018-2023), Kiel (since December 2023).
French international (11 caps).
Palmarès : European champion 2024.
Charles Bolzinger
23 years old, born &agrav; Sète.
1.98m, 100kg.
Clubs: Frontignan THB (2008-2014 and 2015-2016), Montpellier Handball (since 2016).
French international (11 caps).
Palmarès : world vice-champion (2023), European champion (2024).

The MHB is therefore a great school for goalkeepers…

S. B.:Apparently yes… There is Rémi Desbonnet or Vincent Gérard who have been there too. There were a lot of them casually. Personally, I had coaches who made me work a lot on a mental level. Above all, I learned things from goalkeepers that helped me, such as playing forward, playing as quickly as possible and working on the mental dimension, being a warrior. This is what I was taught at MHB. I don’t know if it’s the same for Charles because we’re six years apart. I didn't have a specific goalkeeper but this dimension and this vision of players that Charles and Remi have is an advantage in modern handball. It’s a guard school, different from the others but what we learn is a big advantage compared to the others.

C. B. : This is really the level of training from the young categories which is very high, intense. For goalkeepers, we move very quickly into the category above to help us move forward. We always have to adapt and level up.

And you Charles, what Kiel reminds you of ?

C. B. :As a little boy I had two dreams, signing professionally in Montpellier and playing in Kiel which is my dream club. I had the chance to play there two years ago. It’s a legendary club but so are we. This room is legendary and great things can happen. I respect this team if we are here it means we have earned our place. We will have to play our game while respecting Kiel, without looking down on them.

You both worked with Patrice Canayer and Nikola Karabatic who will leave the world of handball at the end of the season, what can you tell us about them& nbsp;?

S. B. : Patrice is someone who, at first glance, may seem cold. When I was young at the center I had a certain fear of it. But he commands respect. And I have even more now that I understood what he represented in world handball. It’s a reference everywhere, even in Kiel. He remains the best tactician in the world. I have immense respect for his career. He is someone who has always encouraged me and who has always kept in touch. I appreciate that. A big congratulations and great respect for his career.

Nikola, I met him a bit when he returned to Montpellier, we did some training together. Afterwards we clashed a lot. For me he is the GOAT of handball. There are no other definitions. Beyond that, he is a figure in French sport. He is like Lebron James in the NBA, he has won everything. This is an example for every handball player, every athlete. World handball will lose two great people this season.

C.B. : Niko is the example of the player we take inspiration from . It’s the reference for any handball player. If Niko does it then it’s okay if he doesn’t do it, you shouldn’t do it. He’s someone I’ve admired since I was little. Having worked with him in the French team is crazy. He is always so precise and committed. A monster of work. It’s a page of the hand that will turn. I am happy to have been able to play with him and win a European championship title together. He has accomplished incredible things.

Patrice is also a monument of hanball. He is the most successful coach in team sport. All the titles that are on the ceiling of the FDI Stadium, we owe them to him. It will be a big change for French handball, for Montpellier. He has this requirement and this strength to always be on point even when we lose a match, he is the first to take out his whistle and we go. For me, a young player who has been around him for a long time, this way of working has penetrated us. It’s cool to have been around him for this seriousness, this work in training. He is demanding.

How do you see this quarter-final ?

S.B.: I think it's going to be very hooked. We're playing at Bougnol which will be packed and very hot. Few Kiel players know this atmosphere. It's going to be hooked. These are two different styles, the MHB who plays fast with a very mobile back base with Stas Skube, Val, Diego or Bryan Monte that I discovered this season. It’s a style that’s the opposite of us who are physical, with big, powerful figures, even if we have a few little geniuses. It's going to be a clash of styles. This is not an easy match at all. I would have preferred to play a team with big builds like Kielce or Vezsprem, more in our style of play rather than a team which will cause us problems with its ball climbs. It's going to be a big opposition.

C.B.: I expect a lot of commitment. It's going to be two warrior matches. We have to bring them into a defensive match, and then we can develop our game. The defense and raise the ball to 10,000. They're sending too so it's going to be a good fight.

Do you keep the Paris Olympics in the back of your mind ?

S.B.: I prefer to wait until the end of the season, we will take stock after the quarter-finals. The title of European champion is magnificent but it does not guarantee anything for the future. That doesn't mean I'll be in the squad for the Olympics. There will already be a preparation and I hope to be there. And then I hope to be part of this group but the competition will be with the two Montpellier residents. But it’s like that if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. But of course I want to play them in France, it’s an event that I won’t see again in my career. I will do everything to go there. But for now I am focused on Kiel. If we can win this Champions League that would be great. We'll take it step by step.

C.B.: I try not to project myself too much. It’s in the back of my mind but the competition is tough. It's going to involve big matches but it's not me who makes the choices. There are some great things to be had with Montpellier. If the performances are good at the club, I will have done my job to catch the eye of the coach.

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