Gunfight at KK CorralArticle
«Go back

BLOG: ehfTV commentator Tom O Brannagain anticipates a western-like shootout when KIF Kolding Kobenhavn take on FC Barcelona on Sunday in the Match of the Week of the Round 4.

Gunfight at KK Corral

It's North vs South in MOTW this week. The giants of southern Europe meet a new powerhouse from Denmark. North vs South. Historical in USA. Then the Union met the Confederates. Now a union of two great clubs in Denmark, Kolding and Kobenhavn meet a team from a club that is made of a confederation of sports; Barcelona.

And it will be a battle. Two teams at the pinnacle of group B will wish to remain undefeated in a quest for top spot. It's not a battleground Barcelona like (remember their defeat in the capital in 2012) and who could forget the little skirmish between two great Danes as Hvidt and Noddesbo both received a red card.

These two teams are as tough as they come. KIF are so tough they wear army gear. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not into this camouflage kit. True, they hammered last season's champions, but perhaps the opposition couldn't see them. It was an evening raid against a team that appeared to have totally underestimated the firepower at KIF's disposal.

This match is not quite “Apocolypse Now”, (but a home win would benefit a top standing at the end of the group phase), but I'm surprised with their new kit that they haven't entered the court to the music of “Ride of the Valkyrie” and the refrain of “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” ringing in their ears. To be fair in that opening game, the mind games that Kim couldn't shoot were lost in a hail of that cannon of a left arm.

Yes, all the Ks are back at KIF. Kim, Kasper (both Hvidt and Irming), Karlsson and a coach called Kristjansson. Everything is “oK in Ko-lding”.

Amidst all the Ks there is Spellerberg. At 35, he is playing some great handball at the moment.Go Bo Go!!!!!! The team has once again relied heavily on the experienced players, but with most back from serious injury, they are a far more formidable unit than last season.

On names alone, Barcelona could be considered an aircraft carrier. With all hands on deck (including the previously broken hand of Victor Tomas), they are capable of “shock and awe” tactics. Defensively sound with every type of weapon in their arsenal, they must instil fear in the home team. KIF is more of a battleship, sturdy, workmanlike and an ability to navigate the treacherous waters, they will “dread nought” in their Brondby arena.

Lest we think that either of these teams is unplayable, then we need look no further than Barca's home game against Plock or KIF's away game to Alingsas. There was no camouflaging the problems that both teams faced, yet for all that they both came away with victories.

They both have experience and whereas we might think of Kolding as “predators” in their new kit, Barcelona can definitely be thought of as Schwarzenegger. Kolding have exploited the weakness in each team they have faced and Barcelona, well their strength in all areas is the reason they will always “be back”. In that particular movie, there was only one outcome.

In this one I'm not quite sure. Goalkeepers once again could be the key and you might think that Hvidt and Cleverly are a better pairing than Saric and Gonzalo. Hvidt also you think will always be up for a game against his former team.

But look again at the outfield players and there are CL winners on both sides. This will be a game of attrition. With Jorgensen, Laen et al, you just know they will never give up, never surrender. Ditto for Barcelona. Rutenka, Karabatic etc are fighters all.

Everyone of these players at club and international level knows how to win and they recognise every way to outflank and out-manoeuvre an opponent.

Barca will have new signings Jallouz and “Gudjon” (That's Sigurdsson) facing off against Andersson and Irming. Gudjon has been a super transfer for Barca and has further strengthened the team. The latter players return has got the hint of “new signings” for a team that struggled in the knockout stages of the CL last season.

Andersson, despite showing he can still shoot, is understandably not at his 2012 level (where his prowess led to 63 goals) , due to a debilitating shoulder injury, but his vision in the game and his ability to find a crucial pass will no doubt worry the Catalan defence. Irming's return is a welcome one due to the departure of Rocas.

The referees will have their hands full in the pivot position. With KIF playing double line at times they will need 4 eyes on this position and at the other end Jesper and Cedric are a match for any centre block the Danes might utilise.

I can't wait.

It's like high noon in the wild west.

A stand off, a countdown and an amazing draw.

That's why I'm dubbing it;

“The Gunfight at KK Corral”.

TEXT: Tom O Brannagain, ehfTV commentator