Mea culpa, mea maxima culpaArticle
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BLOG: An admission of a prediction gone wrong by Tom Ó Brannagáin, as he witnessed Rhein-Neckar Löwen's masterful performance against the favourites of Barcelona

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

Last week’s blog before the big game quoted Shakespeare and so it's apt that post-game we should give him a mention.

"When the hurly-burly's done,
When the battle's lost and won"

Over 13,000 fans that packed the SAP Arena made sure there was plenty of hurly-burly and at the final whistle, one team had won and won convincingly.

As I reread my blog from before the game, my feeling, my prediction was in stark contrast to what I witnessed. I searched for any thread of hope that would suggest that something I had said was in part true. The answer is that I failed miserably. Having always tipped the Löwen team for the VELUX EHF FINAL4, I had in no uncertain terms prophesied their demise at the hands of Barcelona.

This was a real tragedy for Barcelona. They met in Landin, a keeper at the top of his game. True he made some vital saves, but with his defence ahead of him stifling any creativity for the much vaunted Catalans, the fact is he mostly mopped up any tame shots that came his way.

The warning signs of a great defence had been there for all of us to see over their two legs with Kielce, but it seemed to be ramped up ten gears in this game.

Blitzing Barca

Hitherto the fluidity of the Barcelona attack was a joy to watch. On Sunday it was like watching a viscous liquid roll down the side of a glass. They found no tempo, no flow and Löwen's defence, coupled with a general malaise within the Barcelona team was the reason.

The action in the RNL attack was a mirror image of the defence. Barcelona boasts a great centre block, superb adapting styles to counter any attack. On Sunday it wasn't there. Saric was inexplicably allowed to suffer for 30 minutes before his night of hell was cut short. Sterbik, returning from injury was slightly better. 

The fact is that no matter how Pascual deployed his troops, and he mixed and matched, as much as he could, there was no stemming the flood of the Germans. Over and over they played the same concept. It was almost like watching an action replay again and again, and still the Catalans had no answer to the options that presented themselves.

Schmid and Myrhol interplay, Gensheimer or Groetski, the side-stepping Ekdahl du Rietz. All found the space, found the target and scored 22 first half goals.

The same movement, in replay, gave them untold options and they chose the correct one. They blitzed Barca and began the second half just the same, opening up at one point a 11-goal lead. 

But Barca, even on a bad day, are made of sterner stuff. They won the second half, although watching the game it didn't feel that way. They gave themselves a chance, albeit a minor one.

An apology

Humble-pie is the bitterest of cakes to swallow, but here goes:

Dear Gudmundur,
Please excuse the sorry excuse for a blog, I wrote last week. I am sorry for doubting your team and your tactical acumen.

I think that I could never have foreseen the result as it stands right now and despite permutations of saves ratios, percentages, who might or might not have a good game next week, I will make no predictions about that game. I just hope it's as good as the one I witnessed on Sunday.

Oscar Wilde once said:
"Moderation is a fatal thing,
Nothing succeeds like excess."

Not content with being top of the Bundesliga, RNL is gunning for Cologne as well. Who would bet against them? I'm saying nothing. 

TEXT: Tom Ó Brannagáin, ehfTV commentator