Post match blog: Terrible game, brilliant match
Terrible game, brilliant match! It’s the only way to describe the game between Pick Szeged and Kadetten Schaffhausen. From the moment I walked into the arena, you could feel the pressure. There was pressure to win on both teams. Accepting that all other things are equal and Barcelona, Berlin and Zagreb will fight for the top three places in group D, then the 4th place and a chance to play in the knockout phase would be decided between these two teams. It didn’t help that Minsk had taken a point in the game at home against Zagreb, so, yes; you could feel the tension, the pressure and the heat in the arena.
The players from Szeged said their hellos to me, but the wan smiles masked a great worry. I mean when you ask Larholm has he had any Swedish meatballs in Hungary and he answers by saying that he has met some Danish people, then you might assume his mind is elsewhere. The Schaffhausen players looked steely, determined and not one of them smiled or looked at ease. Except for Carlos Prieto, but, as we know, he’s been there, done that.
The Schaffhausen team was out warming up a good 15 minutes before we even saw the Szeged team, almost as if the two league defeats they had suffered and the home defeat in the CL, to Barcelona, the week before was haunting them. At one point during the warm up, Prieto stood in his own half, staring down the Szeged players, psyching them out, almost playing the game in his mind before it had even started.
It was a strange game, with a lot of tactical and technical mistakes and some bizarre happenings. Jokingly after the game, I said to the referees, that at times they looked more like traffic policemen, waving on and off the floor wipers. It was hot in this hall, the outside temperature paralleled by the stifling of one team by the other.
Pressure, fear and temperature added to players falling or just ”using their experience”, led to a very stop start game with a lot of 2 minute suspensions, not much flow and the floor wipers making a bigger than usual appearance at a Champion’s League game.
Time outs during the game were interesting. Larholm watched on as Szkalicki gave the advice in Hungarian and then got a quick edited version in English from Šulc or Vadkerti. On the Schaffhausen side it was Schärer who gave the instructions during the time-outs and not head coach Hrachovec, something I had never seen before.
The game itself showed signs of picking up early in the second half and suddenly we had ten minutes of good flow, good handball and excitement rising in the hall. The crowd willed the home team on and remained resolutely silent at any goal scored by the opposition. As I said, terrible game, but the match was brilliant. Back and forth we went, like a see-saw, one up, one down until the unimaginable happened.
We entered the final minute of the game and it was a draw. This would have been a fair result on the day. A good claim for a penalty was rejected, when Šulc’s shot was blocked by Jurca. A 9m throw was given, Šulc’s ball out to the wing, to captain Vadkerti who plays the ball across the goal area to flying winger Prodanović who scores the “Kempa”. With no time remaining, the game was won. It was cheeky, it was classy and it showed nerves of steel. (Check out the YouTube clip of your truly giving Prodanović right wing tips)
People questioned whether this should be MOTW with Berlin playing away to Barcelona and technically it wasn’t on the same level but for sheer “flying by the seat of your pants” atmosphere this was a worthy choice.
At the start of the game, the three star players shown for Szeged were Mikler, Larholm and Zubai. I told people to watch out for Šulc. His quality shone throughout this game with his 11 goals and team play. I met my friends in Szeged (and thanks lads by the way) after the game; we ended up meeting some of the players. Šulc was there. He asked me what my plan was for the following day. I told him I was taking the train to the airport in Budapest. The next day he arrived with breakfast for me to the hotel and drove me to the airport. Now that is the quality of the man...
TEXT: Tom Ó Brannagáin, ehfTV commentator