LIVESTREAM CEFL Championship Game: Thonon Black Panthers @ La Courneuve Flash, June 24, 18:00 CET (6 pm, 12 noon EDT)

On Saturday, two longtime rivals will square off in the Central European Football League championship game as the La Courneuve Flash face the Thonon Black Panthers.

These teams are conference rivals in the French domestic league and have faced each other countless times over the years.  Over the last decade, these teams have arguably been the best teams in all of France, as they have combined to win six of the past eight French championships.  Now, each team will be aiming to take home a different trophy, which is one that no French team has ever won.

The Black Panthers route to the final has been impressive. First they knocked off Switzerland’s powerhouse, the Calanda Broncos 38-35 on the road. Then in the quarterfinals Thonon beat the Italian defending champions, Firenze Guelfi 27-14 in Florence, Italy. In the semifinals, the Black Panthers flexed their muscles manhandling defending German titleholders, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns 42-14 in Schwäbisch Hall. The road to the final for La Courneuve has been less arduous as they only had to play two games, both at home. They defeated the Spanish champions, Las Rozas Black Demons 25-14 in the quarterfinals and then downed Italy’s Parma Panthers, 26-21.

In French domestic play, these teams often dominate their opponents, and only have hard-fought close games when they play against each other.  This season, the Flash and the Black Panthers met twice, with the first meeting ending in a tie, and the second meeting ending in a 21-14 victory for Thonon.  The win for Thonon gave them the edge over their rivals in order to claim the conference and earn the top seed in the league playoffs.  Furthermore, these teams also met each other in the CEFL tournament last season, with the Flash knocking out the Black Panthers 45-27 in the quarterfinal round.

In the French playoffs this season, the Black Panthers earned a first-round bye and won their semifinal matchup to advance to the league championship game, while the Flash were knocked out by the Marseille Blue Stars.  The Black Panthers and Blue Stars will face each other for the league title next week.

The Flash have probably had a slight edge over the Thonon over the past few seasons, as last year’s victories against their rivals in CEFL play and the French championship game would show.  However, they lost a lot of talent this past offseason to the upstart Paris Musketeers of the European League of Football, while Thonon kept more of their core intact.  With that being said, these teams are still quite even on paper, with one of their meetings this year ending in a tie and the other ending in a one possession game, so it is safe to say that we can expect another close game this time around.

Kickoff is set for 6:00 PM local time in La Courneuve in the outskirts of Paris.  Which of these teams will be the first French squad to be named CEFL champions?

Thonon Black Panthers @ La Courneuve Flash, June 24, 18:00 CET (6 pm, 12 noon EDT)

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.