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Rapid’s Losses Are Expected, But the Manner Is Heartbreaking

Three months ago, I was expressing disappointment at the results obtained by CSM Bucuresti and Rapid in the Women’s Handball Champions’ League, especially since this may well be the last season when they have access to the funds that allow them to keep all those great players, and the transfers which have so far been announced seem to confirm this. However, while in CSM’s case the disappointments keep coming one after the other and they’re currently likely to end up fifth in that group that they were initially said to be unable to finish lower than third even if they tried, things are much more frustrating when it comes to Rapid.
Sure, the fact that they lost the three matches played since the start of the year is not a surprise and neither is their current position, the next match probably deciding whether they’ll manage to grab sixth place or not, downright shocking being their thrilling home win against Vipers from November. However, the manner in which they lost these matches is just heartbreaking. Maybe somewhat less so in case of the one against Metz, where the missing players forced them to use more or less the same team and it was expected that they’ll tire before the end, and that proved to be the case in the last ten minutes, while in the last five they pretty much collapsed and ended up losing by three goals, yet the fact remains that they played amazingly well. Or, as one commentator put it, “they played as never before and lost as always”. But heartbreaking really is the right way to describe losing the year’s first match, away against Krim, in the final seconds, after such a tight match that Rapid nevertheless led most of the time, Krim only leading twice, at 2-1 and right there when it mattered, at the very end.
And then there was today’s match, away against Ikast, which was pretty much the same… If not even worse. Ikast pulled away at first and led throughout the first half, but Rapid recovered, equalizing at the start of the second half, and the rest of the match was as tight as it could possibly be, neither team being more than one goal ahead at any point. It was 28-28 with four minutes to go, and no more goals were scored for the next three and a half minutes. Then Ikast made it 29-28, with 30 seconds to go. So Rapid played seven against six and rushed to equalize, to at least obtain one point, and they did score, with 11 seconds to go. But those seconds were enough for Ikast to put the ball into the empty net, the goalkeeper not managing to get back in time. And you can’t blame them for anything, they did nothing wrong, they didn’t squander a lead, actually fighting back during the first half, and at the end they did the only thing they could do in that situation, seeing as they needed to score, so they couldn’t keep the goalkeeper on or refuse that shot in order to keep the ball until the end. So the first part of that commentator’s statement, from the match against Metz, is starting to become less true, because they are playing really well, against teams that at the moment should be well above their level… But the second part remains just as true, because they still lose anyway, and at this point they may not even make it past the group stage…

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