Europe´s eyes on "classico"Article
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Preview of the Match of the Week BM Atlético Madrid vs FC Barcelona Intersport

Europe´s eyes on "classico"

When Atlético Madrid host FC Barcelona Intersport on Saturday in the Match of the Week, it is “more than a match”, like Barca’s slogan is to be “more than a club”. It is the clash of in total ten titles in the VELUX EHF Champions League. Record winner Barcelona have seven trophies (including five straight from 1996 to 2000) in their cabinet, Madrid won the flagship competition of club handball three times under their former name Ciudad Real.

Since the re-naming in June 2011 these teams have not faced each other on international ground. Earlier in the past this pairing was twice in the final of the EHF Champions League – and in both cases 2005 and 2011 Barcelona finally raised the trophy.

When Atlético and Barca meet, it is THE “handball classico” in Spain, as those teams imprint the Asobal league since decades, especially by looking upon Spanish record champions Barcelona. And the current season seems to be all but decided four rounds before the end: after Atlético lost their match against Granollers, Barca (25 victories in 25 matches) are ahead by seven points and can become champions again next Tuesday at León.

By looking upon Barca history they had eliminated Spanish clubs five times in eight duels before. It is the 20th quarter-final participation in an European Cup history for Barcelona – and 13 times they made it to the semis. But last season they failed against AG København, while Madrid made it to Cologne – for the third straight time in three years. And in the 2011 final both teams met for the last time.

Since their return to Madrid, Barcelona had won three of four matches – and in the current season they beat their opponent twice already in the league and the Super Cup, including the 25:22 away victory at Vistalegre in December, which might be a good omen for the leg on Saturday, streamed live and free of charge on with English live commentary of Tom Ó Brannagáin.

Much more than 9000 tickets have already been sold for the clash on Sunday – and though they seem to have the underdog’s role, Atlético are highly motivated, especially after the comeback of goalkeeper José Javier Hombrados has been announced.

Originally – according to an article of the magazine “As” – it was said that Hombrados will not play anymore as he candidates for a new president of the Spanish federation next Monday, but now he said: “If Talant Dujshebaev calls, I will be there against Barcelona.” And obviously he received his call of duty.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br