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12.03.2012, 09:29
The Clash of the Titans
«Go back »Print Version


All the essential facts and figures before the mouthwatering clash between FC Barcelona Intersport and Montpellier MAHB in the Last 16.
 

The Clash of the Titans

It is THE top clash in the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League: Defending champions FC Barcelona Intersport will face Montpellier MAHB in the first round of the knock-out stage. www.ehfCL.com takes a look at the statistics and the history of this clash between former and current VELUX EHF Champions League winners.

FC Barcelona is the most successful champion with seven VELUX EHF Champions League titles in seasons 1995/1996, 1996/1997, 1997/1998, 1998/1999, 1999/2000, 2004/2005, 2010/2011. Montpellier have won this title once in the season 2002/2003.

FCB_MAHB460

And if we compare other titles, the comparison makes the Catalans the clear favourites. They have been Spanish champions 18 times compared to 13 national league titles for Montpellier. And Barcelona have won 17 national cups, compared to ten French cups for Montpellier. Additionally FC Barcelona have secured three European Cup trophies – the EHF Cup in 2003 and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994 and 1995.

The number of times they have competed in the EHF Champions League is nearly the same - the 15th time for the Catalans and the 14th time for the French champions. But Barcelona have reached the semi-finals ten times, while Montpelier have played in the last four only twice.

The last time both teams met in the EHF Champions League was in the Last 16 of the competition in 2006/2007, when Montpellier won the first leg at home 28:25, but then were eliminated by the Catalans who won 29:23 at Palau Blaugrana. Surprisingly – as both teams have played in this stage of the competition for the last decade – there has only been one encounter before: in the Group matches of the 2000/2001 season, when Montpellier tied at home 25:25 after losing at Barcelona 17:24. So this current Last 16 matches will be the third duel of both.

But some of the current Montpellier players have faces FC Barcelona Intersport before: Slovenian right winger Dragan Gajic failed against the Catalans with his former club RK Zagreb in the Last 16 of the season 2009/2010. On the other hand Nikola Karabatic and Vid Kavticnik know how to win at Palau Blaugrana, having secured victories several times with their former club THW Kiel, the last being in the 2008/2009 season (their last season in Germany) with a 31:27 victory in the lion’s den. Karabatic is the only player in the Montpellier squad with two EHF Champions League titles. He was – together with current players Mladen Bojinovic and Michael Guigou – part of the 2003 MAHB team, and took the title with Kiel again in 2007.

On the other hand FC Barcelona Intersport can boast a player with five VELUX EHF Champions League titles: Siarhei Rutenka, who was the second player in history to gain five trophies with three different clubs after Jose Xavier Hombrados (Madrid). Rutenka won one title with RK Pivovarna Lasko Celje (2004) and FC Barcelona (2011), and three trophies with BM Ciudad Real (2006, 2008, 2009). Only two of the current players at FC Barcelona Intersport have been in both squads of the last two EHF Champions League titles of the Catalans in 2005 and 2011: team captain Laszlo Nagy and wing player Victor Tomas.

But by looking at the current season the differences become clear: FC Barcelona Intersport have won Group A with nine victories in ten matches, only beaten by Zagreb on home ground. Montpellier are ranked fourth in Group D with five victories and five defeats (at Kobenhavn, Leon and Szeged and at home against Kiel and Kobenhavn).

Due to their ranking, the first leg will be played in Montpellier with the decisive second leg at Barcelona. So one of the main contenders for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 (26/27 May) will be eliminated very early on their way to Cologne – where Montpellier have never played after two close and unlucky defeats in the quarter finals in 2010 (against Chekhovskie Medvedi) and 2011 (Rhein Neckar Löwen). In contrast, Barcelona have been part of both VELUX EHF FINAL4 tournaments – and even reached the final once: In 2010 they lost the thriller against Kiel, before raising their seventh trophy in 2011 by beating BM Ciudad Real. 


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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