20220107 ELW Countdown Nantes
EHF European League

New-look Nantes aiming high again

EHF / Kevin Domas

This is the last article in a series of 16, presenting all teams in the EHF European League Women 2021/22 group phase.

Les Neptunes de Nantes are the proud winners of the first EHF European League Women – in 2020/21, when they still competed under their previous club name.

However, the name is not the only change for the French side, as they return to the competition with a different roster after losing several players in the off-season.

Main facts

  • Nantes won the first EHF Finals last season, defeating Siófok in the final (36:31)
  • finished fifth in their domestic French league last season
  • entered the European League this season in qualification round 3, where they beat Höör from Sweden to qualify for the group phase
  • now without several key players from last season, including Camille Ayglon-Saurina, Blandine Dancette, and Ana Bruna de Paula

The burning question: Can Nantes repeat their success from last season?

No longer benefitting from an underdog role like last season, Nantes will be the team everybody wants to win against.

“It takes a dose of success, a lot of work and a little bit of luck to have a great run in the European League. We hope to go as far as possible,” says Guillaume Saurina, who is in his third season as Nantes coach.

“Each club is able to win the title, we were the best example last year,” says team captain Gordana Mitrovic.

Key player: Nathalie Hagman

While some big names have left, Swedish right wing Natalie Hagman might be the star to look out for this campaign. Hagman netted 18 times in the two EHF Finals games last May.

After two seasons with CSM Bucuresti and a rather difficult year at Odense Håndbold, Hagman arrived at Nantes in the summer of 2020. She was a key factor in the team’s run to the European League title last season and the left-hander might become even more important after many squad changes this season.

How they rate themselves

Sharing a group with unbeaten German Bundesliga leaders SG BBM Bietigheim, last year’s EHF Finals hosts CS Minaur Baia Mare, and Polish side MKS Zaglebie Lubin, Nantes know they are going to face stiff competition each and every round this group phase.

“Each club is able to win the title; we were the best example last year,” says team captain Gordana Mitrovic.

Did you know?

They won the title as Nantes Atlantique Handball last year, but they compete as Les Neptunes de Nantes this season. Changing their previous name, which they have had since 2018, is related to the city of Nantes’ motto: ‘Favet Neptunus eunti,’ meaning ‘Neptune favours the traveller.’ Alongside this new name comes a new visual identity and a bunch of new players.

Arrivals and departures:

Arrivals: Oriane Ondono (Fleury Loiret HB), Raïssa Dapina (Fleury Loiret HB), Barbara Moretto (OGC Nice), Amandine Tissier (Brest Bretagne Handball), Carin Strömberg (Viborg HK/DEN), Mari Finstad Bergum (Flint Tønsberg/NOR), Fie Woller (Bourg de Péage)

Departures: Charlotte Kieffer (Plan de Cuques), Laurie Carretero-Fontaine (Plan de Cuques) Beatriz Escribano (CB Elche/ESP), Kaba Gassama (Fleury Loiret HB), Bruna de Paula (Metz Handball), Marion Maubon (break from handball), Camille Ayglon-Saurina (retired), Blandine Dancette (retired), Lotte Grigel (retired)

Past achievements:

EHF European League Women participations (including 2021/22): 2
Winners (1): 2020/21

Other:

EHF Cup: Quarter-final (1): 2016/17; Round 3 (1): 2015/16

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