"Special game"Article
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Kiel coach, Alfred Gislasson, talks about playing in Barcelona. The Catalonians never lost a home match against THW or against Gislasson before.

"Special game"

These two teams normally meet only in the final stages of a competition. This season, however, THW Kiel and FC Barcelona "have the honour” to face each other in the first group phase of the CL.

Karabatic would be crucially important for KielOn Kiel’s side everything is prepared for this “clash of the titans” coming up in the Palau Blaugrana on Sunday.

“All players are basically fit. Nikola Karabatic is not 100% due to his elbow injury, but he will be able to play,” coach Alfred Gislasson said in an exclusive interview for ehfCL.com.

Kiel will travel to Barcelona with a lot of confidence after a great series in the season: after Kiel made a sensational draw at the first Bundesliga match against Dormagen, they won 11 games in a row – eight league games (including victories against Hamburg and Rhein Neckar Löwen), one in the German Cup and two in the Champions League.

Despite the successes, Gislasson estimates the chances in Barcelona to be around fifty-fifty: “Everything has to run perfect for us if we want to win there.”

In his coaching career – including a Champions League title from 2002 with SC Magdeburg – he met Barcelona four times. His balance: he won in 2003/04 with Magdeburg in the group phase on home court by 28:26, but lost in the Blaugrana by 25:38.

In the last 16 of the 2005/06 season Magdeburg were eliminated by Barcelona after losing at home by 24:26 and in Spain by 23:27.

Gislasson is still waiting for a success in the Blaugrana – just like THW Kiel.

Last season Kiel were happier despite a defeat in BarcelonaThe Germans played 10 Champions League and EHF Cup matches against Barcelona making not a single point in Spain.

In addition, Barcelona won three times in KO phase while Kiel twice. Also last season THW eliminated Barcelona in the semi-finals.

“Playing in Barcelona is something very special,” Gislasson says. “It’s not only the way they play, but the whole atmosphere there. It’s simply an extraordinary feeling in the Blaugrana.”

This season with the new playing system it’s even more important to take a point.

“This game will be very important already in this first group stage as these points against Barcelona may mean a lot for the quarterfinals,” says Gislasson.

What does Gislasson wish for Sunday?

“Winning. I don’t mind the result if we win.”

The statistics suggest that one of the teams will celebrate at the end of the game as the two clubs have never ended with a draw.

Champions League Finals 1999/2000:
Kiel – Barcelona 28:25
Barcelona – Kiel 29:24

Champions League semi-finals 2000/2001:
Kiel – Barcelona 28:24
Barcelona – Kiel 33:28

EHF Cup Finals 2001/2002:
Kiel – Barcelona 36:29
Barcelona – Kiel 28:24

Champions League quarterfinals 2004/2005:
Kiel – Barcelona 30:25
Barcelona – Kiel 33:27

Champions League semi-finals 2007/2008:
Kiel – Barcelona 41:31
Barcelona – Kiel 44:37

TEXT: Björn Pazen