Paris take top spot after beating Barcelona for the first time
After Saturday night, none of the 28 participants in the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase have a clean record: Following five straight wins prior to Round 6, FC Barcelona were defeated by Paris Saint-Germain.
The two contenders for reaching the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne are equal on 10 points now, while Telekom Vezprém are ranked third in Group A after their unexpectedly close win against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg.
• In their third attempt, PSG beat Barcelona for the first time ever, while taking their fifth straight group phase win
• The top scorers for both sides were Frenchmen: Nedim Remili with eight for PSG, and five for Barcelona’s Dika Mem
• Lucky Veszprém remain unbeaten on home ground since April 2013
• Momir Ilic was top scorer for the Hungarian victors by eight goals, while Stefan Hundstrup netted six times for Bjerringbro
• Veszprém have eight points in their account now, while the Danes feel the breath of Plock on their necks as they are only one point ahead after six rounds
Telekom Veszprém (HUN) vs Bjerringbro Silkeborg (DEN) 30:29 (17:13)
The series of unexpected and close results in Group A continued in Veszprém. After Kiel were beaten by Plock and Flensburg had enormous problems against Schaffhausen, the 2016 VELUX EHF Champions League finalists were extremely shaken by Bjerringbro in the final stages of their Round 6 match.
Though the Danes were only in front once – at 1:0 – they were close to taking a point in the end, but Veszprém managed to keep their clear home record that has stood since April 2013.
“In the second half we controlled the match but we had five or six minutes of blackout where the Danish goalkeeper saved many shots and we let them score easy goals. We have to learn from that and we can control these kind of situations in the future,“ said Veszprem coach Xavi Sabate.
After an equal start, the hosts forged ahead to 16:10 with five straight goals and seemed to on their way to an easy-going win against the Danish side, who were the clear underdogs.
After four straight home matches, playing away was a different experience for Nikolaj Markussen and his teammates. At the break, the Danes had reduced the deficit to four goals, but still Veszprem were dominant and full of confidence as their defence stood strong.
A lapse in concentration
When Momir Ilic netted his fifth of eight goals for 22:15 in minute 40, the fans in the sold-out arena had already marked the match a winner.
But somehow the hosts lost their rhythm and pace in the next 10 minutes, while Bjerringro grew, improving their defence and scoring goal by goal. 10 minutes before the end, everything was open again, with the score at 24:22.
Veszprem were shaken awake and when Ilic scored his last goal for 28:24, the deal should have been sealed. But, losing their concentration against their bravely fighting visitors, Veszprem again found their backs against the wall.
In the end the Hungarian side managed to take the two points when team captain Laszlo Nagy scored for 30:28 exactly one minute prior to the final buzzer.
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 33:26 (15:12)
Paris were perfectly prepared for the tactics of the record Champions League winners and managed to stop their attack with highly movable defence in the first half.
The French champions stood strong against back court shooters Wael Jallouz and Kiril Lazarov, and even the fact that former Barcelona star Nikola Karabatic had an extremely weak start, missing all four of his shots before the break, did not stop the PSG express.
After 17 minutes, PSG were ahead by four goals for the first time at 10:6. But Barcelona were soon back on track at 10:11, before a strong period from Luka Karabatic allowed Paris to advance to 15:12 advance by the break.
PSG's back court seals the deal
Like in several of their previous matches, right back Nedim Remili was the best weapon for the hosts in attack.
When the second half began, Nikola Karabatic was back as he was supposed to be against his former teammates. Full of power, he started to score a series of hammer goals – but those were still not enough to cast off Barcelona.
The Catalans were more aggressive in defence and more efficient in attack now. And when Barca goalkeeper Borko Ristovski saved a penalty shot off his former Rhein Neckar-Löwen team mate Uwe Gensheimer in minute 40, it provided extra power for the eight-time Champions League winners.
As the Catalans caused more turnovers than the hosts and let too many good chances slip from their hands, Paris kept the lead and even increased the advantage to 26:21 with only 13 minutes left.
If the hosts had been more efficient from the penalty line, the match would have decided earlier. But the deal was finally sealed with the score of 30:25 – and Barcelona were beaten for the first time in all competitions this season.