No sensation in the Palau BlaugranaArticle
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The Danes did not surrender in Barcelona, but after 20 difficult minutes, the Catalonians qualify for the semi-finals with a 29-24 against GOG.

No sensation in the Palau Blaugrana

With one match left of the Main Round, FC Barcelona can prepare for the semi-finals already. Their qualification for the next phase was confirmed after winning 29-24 in the ‘group final’ against GOG – the only other team that still had a chance to proceed.

Barcelona qualify for the semi-finalsThe Danish champions only had a chance in the first 20 minutes when they seemed to repeat their sensational home win (35-33 after a 24-17 Barcelona lead in Denmark).

However, in the last 40 minutes in the Palau Blaugrana of Barcelona, the Spanish favourites left no doubt.

GOG start better

One of the keys factors in the Barcelona victory was their goalkeeper. FC Barcelona’s Kasper Hvidt did considerably better than he did in that surrealistic match in Odense a month ago. He performed 22 saves.

On the other end of the court, GOG keeper Peter Henriksen – usually Hvidt´s substitute in the Danish national team – returned from his back injury to replace the young talent, Niklas Landin. Though Landin was brilliant in the previous two matches, Henriksen proved to be a good choice: he made 16 saves – two 7-meter shots, but he could never reach the level of Hvidt.

Early in the match, GOG followed the same strategy that worked out well during the first match: extremely fast attacking play, counter-attacks and quick throw-offs.

This put a huge pressure on the Barcelona attack. The Spanish players felt that they had to score on each attack to prevent a Danish counter-attack. When they scored, they had no time to celebrate or make substitutions as the visitors were coming like angry bees…

GOG took an early 2-0 lead and kept the lead for a long time. 8 minutes and 40 seconds into the game the score was 2-4. At this point Barcelona head coach, Manolo Cadenas, called a time-out. This did not help his team much in the first place, though, as GOG kept their one or two-goal lead until 8-10 after 20 minutes. The 60 GOG supporters among the 4000 fans were the loudest in this phase of the game.

From this point on, however, the Danes were not able to keep this impressive pace against a physically strong Spanish defence. At the same time Kasper Hvidt´s increasing number of saves took the confidence of the Danish players.

The hosts started to get things right – changing GOG´s 10-8 lead into 12-10 for themselves and they secured a 16-11 lead at half time. The last ten minutes of the first half was 8-1 for Barcelona…

No doubt in the second half

However, FC Barcelona were also leading by five in Odense (19-14 after the first 30 minutes back then), so it was still not impossible for GOG.

Barcelona made it 18-11 soon after the break, but three GOG goals in succession changed the score to 18-14 and reminded the 4,000 spectators of the Danish game.

The answer was given soon: Barcelona were prepared this time and they answered took a seven-goal lead in a hurry at 21-14 and they even made it 27-18, which was the biggest difference in the match. GOG’s comeback by the end was not decisive anymore.

GOG can still be proud

With this 29-24, Barcelona qualify for the semi-finals, just as everyone expected before the Main Round. Nevertheless, GOG players do not have to keep their heads low after all. As Pick Szeged defeated Celje Pivovarna Lasko on Saturday, GOG are sure to finish second in the group – a considerably better result, than most people in Denmark expected from the current number four in the Danish league. 

The Danish national team pivot, Jesper Nøddesbo, was Barcelona’s top scorer player with 6 goals, while Swedish left winger, Fredrik Petersen, scored 8 for GOG.

TEXT: Peter Bruun