Barcelona win thriller against Veszprem; Kiel needed two wake-up calls
After five rounds, the “group of death” is still dominated by FC Barcelona Lassa. After beating Kiel and Flensburg, the Catalans ended the unbeaten series of Telekom Veszprem by a hard-earnt win on Saturday night to keep their clean record, while THW nearly stumbled against Schaffhausen.
• Barcelona top the group with the optimum of ten points.
• Like in the 2015 CL final, the Catalans beat the Hungarian record champions.
• Jallouz (7), Tomas and Lazarov (each 6) scored 75 per cent of all Barcelona goals
• By beating Kadetten, Kiel remain unbeaten in CL home matches for a year now
• The Swiss champions remain on the bottom of Group A with zero points after five matches.
THW Kiel (GER) vs Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) 32:29 (19:15)
Swiss strength, German weakness
THW (without Nikola Bilyk, Rune Dahmke and former Kadetten player Christian Dissinger) had a similar weak start as their neighbours Flensburg against Plock on Wednesday as the Swiss side, boosted by some brilliant saves from goalkeeper Nikola Marinovic, combined and the efficiency of joint top scorers Luka Maros and Gabor Csaszar with eight goals each in attack, had the better start.
Kiel initially played in a lacklustre manner - especially goalkeeper Niklas Landin who was out of sorts.
In goal for the first 13 minutes, the Danish Rio 2016 Olympic champion did not save a single shot, and Kadetten were ahead 10:7. THW coach Alfred Gislason had seen enough and took his timeout, using the break to replace Landin with German EHF EURO champion Andreas Wolff.
“Are you still sleeping?” Gislason shouted at his players during the pause as it was evident that Kiel lacked concentration, their body language showing their lack of focus.
Hungry like the Wolff
But when Wolff entered the goal, things changed. His saves gave confidence to his teammates - and Schaffhausen beat themselves by playing high risk, replacing their goalkeeper with an additional court player too often, paving the way for two ‘empty-goal; strikes as Kiel had their first lead at 14:13.
Scoring an 8:2 series in the last 10 minutes of the first half was the key to a 19:15 lead at the break.
“In those 10 minutes we caused too many easy mistakes and had not been aggressive enough, this was the reason why Kiel turned the match around,” Kadetten’s Nikola Marinovic told German TV station Sky at the break.
“I do not think now that we will let this match go from our hands,” added injured THW Kiel left wing Dahmke - and the EURO champion was right, but would not have expected how close the match would end.
After only seven minutes in the second period, the deal seemed to be sealed, when Kiel went ahead 22:16. Even an early timeout from their coach Lars Walther could not stop Schaffhausen’s downswing at that moment.
A happy end for the German side
Led by their team captain Domagoj Duvnjak, Kiel cruised easily on the rest of their voyage for their third win in their fifth group match, as from the 35-47th minute the advance was between five and seven goals. But like in the initial stages, they did not take the match serious enough again.
Kadetten never gave up, strengthened their defence and reduced the gap to only two goals at 28:26 and Gislason again had seen enough and took his next timeout.Even two straight goals did not bring the final decision, as also Kadetten stroke twice, but when young Swede Lukas Nilsson scored to make it 31:29, the game was decided.
After five rounds, the “group of death” is still dominated by FC Barcelona Lassa: After beating Kiel and Flensburg, the Catalans ended the unbeaten series of Telekom Veszprem by a hard-earnt win on Saturday night to keep their clean record, while THW nearly stumble against Schaffhausen.
FC Barcelona Lassa vs Telekom Veszprem 26:23 (16:11)
It's the first VELUX EHF Champions league defeat of this season for Veszprem, and fifth win for Barcelona. The top match of Group A turned into a real thriller after Barca were ahead clearly.
Gonzalo coming up with the goods
Thanks to a saving rate of 50 per cent, Gonzalo Perez de Varga was the key for the clear 16:11 half-time lead of the hosts in the re-match of the 2015 VELUX EHF Champions League Final. Veszprem had enormous problems to score, while Barcelona nearly fired from all positions.
In a one-man-advantage the Catalans took their first three-goal lead at 9:6, and even added another goal, when the Hungarian side again were shorthanded.
Though they tried hard and improved in defence the 2015 and 2016 finallists could not reduce the deficit, as they still could not stop left back Wael Jallouz, who scored five of his seven goals before the break. The biggest gap was six goals at 16:10.
And after the break, Barca were still on fire, forging ahead to 19:12 after a double from Kamil Syprzak and Kiril Lazarov. But one thought that those goals would pave the way for an early decision was completely wrong.
Backed by a movable and aggressive defence and the goals of right wing Dragan Gajic and line player Andreas Nilsson, Veszprem were close to turning the match around at 22:20.
Dry spell for both sides
Crunch time had started – and the fans in Palau Blaugrana did not see any goal for nearly seven minutes, when the score was 23:20. Both sides missed their chances, both sides worked brilliantly in defence.
And Perez de Vargas still was the tower of power for Barca. Three minutes before the end, he saved a Gajic shot when the score was 24:22 in an enormously thrilling end game.
Finally team captain Victor Tomas decided the match with his sixth goal making it 25:22 with only 100 seconds left on the score board.
Victor Tomas of Barcelona: “It was a very hard games versus one of the candidates to win VELUX EHF Champions League title. We prepared so well for the game and we showed our maturity when Veszprem were only two goals down.”
Xavi Sabate, coach of Veszprem: “We had a good game, especially in defence, but we made too many mistakes in offense and de Vargas was the key player for Barcelona's win.”