After the penultimate matchday of the French League, it’s clear which teams will finish 1st and 2nd and qualify for the semifinals of the playoffs. But there are still a few open questions regarding the remaining spots in the playoffs.
Marseille, which secured 1st place two rounds before the end, beat Tourcoing 15:11 in the derby of the 17th round and finished the season with a perfect 16-0 record (Marseille had a day off in the last round).
Noisy-le-Sec, which had a bye in this round, cemented 2nd place, because Tourcoing doesn’t have a chance to catch the Parisians, but its third place isn’t secured.
A very interesting game was played in Sete, where Sete defeated Pays d’Aix 16:13. Sete secured 5th place, while Pays d’Aix still hasn’t qualified for the playoffs (the top 6 teams advance to the playoffs).
Montpellier was better than Reims (18:11) and caught up in points with Pays d’Aix. Each team has won 16 points, but Pays d’Aix is 6th and Montpellier is in 7th place, because Pays d’Aix recorded wins in both encounters between these teams this season.
In the last round, Aix will play against last-placed Nice. Montpellier will have a more demanding task as it will face Strasbourg.
2023 French League, Day 17
Tourcoing – Marseille 11:15 (3:4, 4:4, 3:3, 1:4)
Tourcoing: D.Zivkovic 3, Draskovic 3, Marzouki 2, Dasic 2, M.Brguljan 1.
Marseille: Daube 3, Prlainovic 2, Bodegas 2, Vukicevic 2, Bouet 2, A. De Nardi 1, Vernoux 1, Olivon 1, Izdinsky 1.
Sete – Pays d’Aix 16:13 (3:3, 5:3, 4:3, 4:4)
Sete: Tomic 4, Furman 4, Chandieu 4, Bofill 3, Vujovic 1.
Pays d’Aix: Khasz 4, Peisson 3, Bakircilar 2, Rochietta 2, Vrdoljak 1, Dunstan 1.
Reims – Montpelier 11:18 (4:6, 3:1, 0:4, 4:7)
Reims: Vix 3, Culina 2, Lambert 1, Solje 1, Babic 1, Missy 1, Bulat 1, Le Goff 1,
Montpellier: Piot 5, Ivankovic 4, Spilliaert 3,Dory 2, Vasin 2,B en Romdhane 1, Roussel 1.
Played earlier: Nice – Strasbourg 4:10
Tourcoing didn’t surprise Marseille, but it made the match very interesting. Everything was open until the final quarter. Marseille went to the first break with a 4:3 lead. However, Tourcoing got off to an excellent start in the second quarter. It scored three goals in the first three minutes (Marzoiki 2 and Duje Zivkovic 1) to earn a 6:4 lead in the 10th minute. But, the hosts’ joy didn’t last for long. Marseille netted four goals in a row and turned around a 2-goal deficit to an 8:6 lead. From that point on, Marseille was always in front. Still, Tourcoing didn’t give up the chase. In the 24th minute, the visitors earned a 3-goal lead for the first time. Olivon converted a man-up for 11:8. Tourcoing found the net twice in the last 32 seconds and the hosts trailed by a goal before the fourth quarter (10:11).
Marseille earned a solid 13:10 advantage midway through the fourth quarter. Marin Dasic woke the hosts’ last hope with an action goal in the 30th minute (11:13). But, Andrija Prlainovic scored the last two goals in the match and Marseille finished the regular season with a 15:11 victory.
Sete broke Pays d’Aix in the middle two quarters, but the visitors were able to come back. After a 3:3 first period, Sete dictated the pace in the 2nd and the 3rd period. In the 22nd minute, Petar Tomic gave the hosts a 12:7 lead and many believed the contest was over. However, Pays d’Aix didn’t surrender. The visiting team scored four goals in a row and reduced the gap to one (11:12) in the 27th minute. Shortly after, Sete doubled its advantage (13:11), but Pays d’Aix erased the deficit quickly. Vrdoljak scored an equalizer for 13:13 with 03:03 minutes remaining. However, it was the visitors’ last goal in the game. Sete netted three in the last three minutes and recorded a 16:13 win to cement 5th place.
The game Reims- Montpellier had a few twists and turns, but the visitors were in front most of the time. The first quarter belonged to Montpellier (6:4). Reims leveled before the middle break (7:7). Montpellier water polo players opened the second half with five goals in a row, which decided the winner. At the beginning of the fourth period, they gained a 12:7 advantage.
1.Marseille 16 games – 46 points
2.Noisy-le-Sec 15 – 34
3. Tourcoing 15 – 30
4. Strasbourg 15 – 29
5. Sete 15 – 23
6.Pays d’Aix 15 – 16*
7. Montpellier 15 – 16*
8. Reims 15 – 9
9. Nice 15 – 1
Head-to-head: Montpellier – Pays d’Aix 9:17, Pays d’Aix – Montpellier 16:11
Matchday 18: Strasbourg – Montpellier, Sete – Noisy-le-Sec, Nice – Pays d’Aix, Reims – Tourcoing. Marseille bye.