Second draw in the Barcelona vs Löwen duel
What a thriller, what an endgame: FC Barcelona Lassan and Rhein-Neckar both had the chance to win a classic Group A duel, but both goalkeepers saved the last shots. With 11 points on their account, Löwen remain unbeaten, one point ahead of Barcelona and Vardar’s top challenger.
- As the first leg in round 1, the duel ends with a draw
- It was the third tie for the German side in seven matches
- Dika Mem (Barcelona) and Momir Rnic (Löwen) scored seven each
- Löwen line player Gedeon Guardiola was severely injured in minute 56
FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) 26:26 (13:13)
A score of 31:31 in September, 26:26 in November – no duel in the VELUX EHF Champions League season 2017/18 has been more equal than the clash between Barcelona and Löwen. Only 24 hours after their victorious league match in Leipzig, the German champions took a deserved point from Palau Blaugrana after a true rollercoaster ride.
Maybe because they had arrived only six hours before the throw-off in Barcelona, Löwen were far below their regular performance at the start of the match. Boosted by their frenetic fans, the hosts easily forged ahead to 5:1 after only six minutes. But then the German champions woke up, and their new Serbian arrival Momir Rnic shocked the Catalans.
Consequently, the advance melted minute by minute and again Rnic levelled the result at halftime. In that period, Barcelona could not cope with the visitors' quick attacks – only Dika Mem managed to find the gaps, while Aron Palmarsson missed many chances, including a heavy head shot against his former THW Kiel teammate Andreas Palicka.
Löwen calmed down the Palau Blaugrana with a double strike from Andy Schmid and a goal from line player Henrik Pekeler to be ahead by 18:14 in minute 38. But when Palmarsson turned from striking to assisting, his role for the team became more and more important.
Barcelona got back on track, when Viran Morros equalised at 24:24. Löwen coach Nikolaj Jacobsen took a time out and changed his tactics to six against six. It worked immediately: Schmid scored twice and the downswing was stopped.
In the next minutes Barcelona fought back again to level the match once more. With four minutes to play Löwen line player Gedeon Guardiola twisted his knee and his ankle.
Both sides attacked again in the final moments of the match, but with saves at both ends another draw was assured.
Barcelona goalkeeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas said his counterpart Andreas Palicka played an “incredible match”.
“For Barça a draw is never a good result, but seeing how the game went when there were 10 minutes left, not having lost says a lot about this team. We wanted to win because it was a key match, but this point may be important in the end,” he added.
Jacobsen said it was a “really difficult game” for his men.
“In the end we made three mistakes and Barcelona gained too fast in the game. Both teams could won. Barcelona is the one of best teams in the world, so I’m very happy with this result,” he said.Author: Björn Pazen/jh