Barca’s historical victoryArticle
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Catalans win for the first time ever at Kiel

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Barca’s historical victory

Six attempts, zero victories – this was the balance of FC Barcelona in matches at THW Kiel before Sunday. Now times have changed: Thanks to the 32:30 (17:15) the Catalans have one for the first time ever an away match against THW – and took the lead in group D of the Men’s Champions League, one point ahead of Kiel.

For THW it was the second defeat within one week, after being eliminated in the German cup by Gummersbach. Match winner for Barca was goalkeeper Danijel Saric, who saved 15 shots. His opinion about the historical triumph: “It was one of our main goals for this season to win in the Sparkassen-Arena. Now we’ve reached it. Our defense stood brilliant, so we had a lot of counter attacks. The points aren’t only valid for the ranking, but for our self assurance.”

His coach  Xavier Pascual said: “In the last years our matches in Kiel ended in a disaster, this season the first match was quite equal, even as we lost. It was something very special to take a victory in the cathedral of handball, this day has a highly important meaning for our development.”

Even the ten goals of again outstanding Filip Jicha and the best match ever of young Icelandic playmaker Aron Palmarsson weren’t enough for THW to keep the series alive. As the Barca defense improved after the 1:3, the Catalans took the lead very early – and extended it to four goals (14:10 and 16:12). Right after the break and the score of 16:19, THW had their best phase. As Barcelona played to unconcentrated in attack, Kiel scored a 4:1 series and led 21:20.

The 10.500 spectators in the sold out arena went crazy, as their team had the great chance to take the control over their old enemy. The game kept being on the edge until the score of 26:26. Thanks to four consecutive goals – each after a THW mistake or a Saric save – Barca decided the game at the score of 30:26. The time was running out of THW’s hands, even as Marcus Ahlm reduced to 30:31 in the last minute. After a Barca time out 22 seconds before the final whistle, Alberto Rocas scored the last and decisive goal for the Catalans.

For THW coach Alfred Gislasson the defeat was deserved: “Our defense was too slow in the first half and we didn’t interrupt the Barca attacks. At the start of the second half we improved, but then we made too many easy mistakes, too many players were too far away from their normal form.” Jicha shared this opinion: “It was a hard week for us, physical and mental, and we had a bad day against Barca. The number of mistakes in the decisive stage of the game, when we led with one goal, were too high.”

The only positive fact for Kiel: As THW had beaten Barcelona 30:27 at Palau Blaugrana, they have won the direct encounter against Barca, what might get important in the final ranking. Topscorers for the Spanish team were Rutenka and Igropulo with each six goals.

TEXT: Björn Pazen