Тhe first half of the season in the French Championship was completed with the 9th round, which was full of twists and turns.
As expected, an encounter between Strasbourg and Pays d’Aix, that are ranked 1st and 2nd respectively, was a big show for 800 people in Aix-en-Provence. Aix had a lead for almost the whole game, from the first to nearly the last second (5:3 at halftime, 7:5 before the fourth quarter). Indeed, the last second was the only moment in which Strasbourg took the lead, enough to win this game (9:8) and to take a huge advantage ahead of followers.
Another big game was the “French Clasico” between Marseille and Nice. It had been very difficult to bet on the winner before the start, as Marseille was still playing without its two majors center-forwards, Bicari and Camarassa. But, a very young Thomas Vernoux (15 years), who is the big surprise of this championship, did a terrific job by scoring 3 goals, becoming the best scorer of the game and he led Marseille to a clear victory – 11:4.
In a big clash between 5th and 6th-placed, Montpellier faced Lille. Montpellier had no choice than winning to keep chances in a battle for the playoff (Top 4). After being 4:8 down in the 3rd period, Lille came back and was very close to secure a deserved draw but Hungarian Heinrich, lefty of Montpellier, scored the winner 17 seconds before the end of the game (12:11).
The game for avoiding the last places was an opportunity for Douai water polo players to achieve their first win this season. Unfortunately for them, Noisy had no difficulties to take 3 points and to confirm their progress (10:6).
Strasbourg, the only unbeaten team, enters the new year in the 1st place. Marseille “stole” the 2nd place from Pays d ‘Aix, which is now 3rd, but both teams will have to fight hard to keep their positions because Nice and Montpellier are not so far.
It’s pretty clear that none of the teams ranked from the 6th to the 9th position will qualify for the playoff this season. We can expect surprises in the second part of the league as Noisy and Lille are becoming stronger and stronger.
French championship, 9th round
Pays d’Aix -Strasbourg 8:9
1. Strasbourg 8 – 24
2. Marseille 8 – 19
3. Pays d’Aix 8 – 18
4. Nice 8 – 15
5. Montpellier 8 – 13
6. Noisy 8 – 7
7. Lille 8 – 6
8. Sete 8 – 4
9. Douai 8 – 0
The 10th round will be played on 20th January