Barça make huge step towards EHF FINAL4
Barça have won the seventh consecutive EHF Champions League match against Flensburg and underlined their ambitions for an EHF FINAL4 ticket, while Flensburg’s quarter-final curse seems to continue despite a great morale in the second half: Since they won the trophy at Cologne in 2014 for the first and only time, the German side have not made it to the EHF FINAL4 again. After the 29:33 defeat on home ground on Wednesday against the record winners, the team of head coach Maik Machulla needs a miracle in the second leg at Palau Blaugrana. The first ten minutes were already decisive - in the second half the hosts clearly improved, but could turn the match around.
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Barça (ESP) 29:33 (13:18)
- Barça started in a super-efficient express mode and simply overran Flensburg in the first ten minutes with an unexpected 9:2 advantage thanks to counter-attacks and turnovers
- Barça’s Gonzalo Perez de Vargas clearly won the goalkeeper duel against Benjamin Buric and Kevin Möller on Flensburg’s side, boosting the defence and putting pressure on the host’s attackers
- though Flensburg immediately looked quite shocked, they managed to come back, reducing the gap to five goals at the break - and they got stronger after the break thanks to nine goals in total from left wing Emil Jacobsen; at 23:26 in minute 47, Barça were in reaching distance again
- on the other side, Tunisian-born line player Youssef Bean Ali, who was signed in November after Luis Frade tore his ACT, had his best match since joining Barça, scoring eight goals from eight attempts to be their top scorer at Flensburg - and in the end scored the decisive goal at 30:25
- netting six times, Barça’s right back Dika Mem is the new top scorer of the competition with an overall of 84 goals, but tomorrow Aalborg’s Felix Claar (currently on 81 goals) can retake the title against Veszprem
The old Barça are back
The 2020/21 season was a historic one for Barça and the EHF Champions League: the record winners took their ninth trophy with a dominance never seen before, winning all their 20 Champions League matches from the first group match until the final against Aalborg. It was obvious that this series is not everlasting, but after the two back-to-back defeats against Kielce and the draw at Porto, Barça seemed to have lost their dominant role. Yet now - as the players got used to the system of Carlos Antonio Ortega - Barça are back on track - and definitely are in the favoured role for the EHF FINAL4 ticket on home ground next week, especially if they perform like in the first half.
We know that these kinds of games are really important. That means we have two games and today we did one really good step. But we are still concentrating. It’s important to win here but the task is not finished yet and we're going to show that we deserve this again.
In the first half it was very difficult for us to come back, but after ten to fifteen minutes we came back and found better solutions. In half two we came back stronger, but we defended not strongly enough and that's why we lost this match.