Marseille won the first trophy in French water polo in 2018. It clinched the League Cup (Coupe de la League).
Eight teams took part at the three-day tournament, that was held in Douai.
In the first game of the competition, Strasbourg, the League leader, beat Reims easily – 12:4.
The second quarterfinal was a tighter match than expected. Marseille, which registered the comeback of Bicari and Camarassa this winter, won only 10:7 against Tourcoing.
As expected, the encounter between Pays d’ Aix and Montpellier was a big game. It was the third clash of these two teams this season. Aix won in the first two games (Eurocup, Round 1 and French Championship). But Montpellier was better this time, in a “crazy game”. The rivals were tied in the second period (5:5), but Montpeiller scored four unanswered goals for a 9:5 lead in the third quarter. By the end of this period, AIx managed to level the score (9:9). In the final quarter, Montpellier went in front again for a 14:12 win.
The last quarterfinal between hosting team, Douai and Noisy le Sec saw a big surprise. Douai has won its first game of the season to qualify for the semifinals (12:8).
In the semifinals, Marseille faced Strasbourg, while Montpellier met with Douai.
Everybody was waiting for the game between the best two teams in France in the first half of the League – Montpellier and Strasbourg. Indeed, the game was tense from the beginning and Marseille finally won the match by a one-goal margin, 10:9. The audience was pretty sure that it would be certainly the most thrilling game of the Cup. But it wasn’t…
The second semifinal, Montpellier-Douai was the most surprising game in French water polo in the last 10 years, maybe more.
After the victories against Strasbourg (in the Championship previous week) and against Aix (quarterfinal), Montpellier was the odds-on favourite to win the match. But Douai fought like a lion. It was a battle “David against Goliath”, and we were very close to a huge surprise, as Douai drove Montpellier until the penalty shoot-out, with a 10:10 draw. Unfortunately for them, they missed the first shot and Montpellier took its ticket for the final (14:13).
The final was the same as in the previous League Cup season. It was the FRENCH WATER POLO CLASSIC, between teams that have fought for titles for many years.
Montpellier, that won the trophy in 2017 League Cup, is a team with two faces in this season, with a lot of ups and downs. At the half of the League, it was ranked at the 5th place, it was eliminated in the 1st round of the Eurocup. In Douai, after a terrible game against Douai in the semifinals, Montpellier water polo players raised themselves again in the final game day to push Marseille to their own limits.
With a very strong team (Bicari, Scepanovic, Vukicevic, Durdic, Kovacevic, Markovic, Camarassa), Marseille was the favourite. But the semifinalist of the Eurocup had to fight hard throughout the game to win with a one-goal advantage (12:11) and to win the “Emmanuel Ducher” trophy, named after a legendary French water polo player who died a few years ago from cancer.
Strasbourg – Reims Natation 89 12:4
Marseille – Tourcoing 10:7
Pays d’Aix Natation – Montpellier 12:14
Douai – Noisy le Sec 12:8
1st – 4th place
Strasbourg – Marseille 9:10
Montpellier – Douai 14:13 (10:10, penalty shootout)
5th – 8th place
Reims Natation – Tourcoing 10:13
Pays d’Aix – Noisy le Sec 13:8
Marseille – Montpellier 12:11
For 3rd place
Douai – Strasbourg 7:10
For 5th place
Tourcoing – Pays d’Aix 9:16
For 7th place
Reims – Noisy le Sec 12:9
1. CN Marseille
2. Montpellier WP
3. Team Strasbourg
4. FNC Douai
5. Pays d’Aix Natation
6. EN Tourcoing
7. Reims Natation 89
8. CN Noisy le Sec