Barcelona turn thriller against Kiel around in MOTW, Veszprém remain undefeatedArticle
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GROUP A REVIEW: VELUX EHF Champions League record winners beat THW 26:25 after a strong finish in the MOTW, while the 2016 finalists have some problems against Schaffhausen with 32:28.

Barcelona turn thriller against Kiel around in MOTW, Veszprém remain undefeated

A final block against the direct free throw of Nikola Bilyk secured Barcelona’s second win of the season, while Kiel let a clear lead to diminish during this Match of the Week (MOTW) at Palau Blaugrana. In a true thriller, three goalkeepers, Andreas Wolff and Niklas Landin for Kiel and Gomnzalo perez de Vargas for Barcelona, imprinted the game.

  • Since 2009, Kiel has not won any match at Palau Blaugrana.
  • New arrival, Valero Rivera, was Barcelona’s top scorer just like against Plock one week ago, while Domagoj Duvnjak topped Kiel’s scorer ranking with seven goals.
  • After an incredible performance of Andreas Wolff (THW) in the first half, Gonzalo Perez de Vargas (FCB) turned the goalkeeper duel - and the match - around.
  • Veszprem remain unbeaten in VELUX EHF Champions League home matches since April 2013.
  • Momir Ilic (Veszprém) and Luka Maros (Kadetten) were the top scorers with seven goals each.


FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) vs. THW Kiel (GER) 26:25 (10:13)

Every time he faces Spanish teams, Andreas Wolff is on fire. After his exceptional 50 per cent saving rate in the victorious EHF EURO 2016 Final with Germany against Spain, Wolff was the hero once again in Barcelona. Eleven saves in the first half were the key for Kiel’s 13:10 lead at the break in Palau Blaugrana.

And it could have been an even bigger advance for the German side. Barcelona lacked patience, concentration and creative ideas in attack during the first 30 minutes of the match. If the Catalans would not have had another superb goalkeeper between the posts, Gonzalo Perez de Vargas, and if Kiel would not have thrown so many chances away during the final minutes of the first half, the clash of the titans would have been decided very early.

Besides, Barcelona’s middle block was too far away from the constantly changing Kiel back court players, so either Nikola Bilyk, Marko Vujin or Domagoj Duvnjak had enough space to score. The score of 13:9 directly before the break was the first four-goal lead for the three-time Champions League winners against the record winners of the competition (eight trophies).

To begin the second half, Barca striked back with three straight goals and were very close to taking their first lead of the match, but again, Wolff stood in their way. When Kiel seemed to be shaken, Duvnjak took responsibility, netting in for some crucial goals.

On the other hand, left winger, Valero Rivera, demonstrated his significance for his team by scoring easy-going counter attack goals, just as he did when he was Barcelona’s top scorer in Plock. This opened the match for either team and the hosts equalized again at 19:19 in minute 44 with a great lob from Cedric Sorhaindo.

When Kamil Syprzak scored to make it a 22:21 game eleven minutes before the end, it was Barca’s first - and well-deserved - lead; a clear boost for the final stages, as now Kiel had lost their rhythm. Wolff had lost his supremacy and was replaced by Olympic champion, Niklas Landin. In the meantime, Perez de Vargas had taken the lead in the goalkeeper statistics.

Kiel had to play the final six minutes without their defensive boss, Rene Toft Hansen, who was red carded after his third suspension. When Christian Zeitz left the court, Barcelona had a two-man advantage for over a minute. But, the hosts could not profit, as they failed twice against brilliant Landin. At the opposite end of the court, Kiel was awarded a penalty shot - but Vujin missed the goal and Victor Tomas secured Barca’s lead at 24:23 in the next attack.

THW were punished by another suspension - their third within four minutes. With Barca leading 25:24, Coach Alfred Gislason took his final timeout 110 seconds before the end of the match to re-direct his defence and to replace Landin with an additional court player in attack. After Kiel equalized shorthanded, Barca coach, Xavi Pascual, took his green card with 53 seconds. Tomas scored for the fifth time and afterwards, Kiel still had 20 seconds for their last attack. But after a foul against Weinhold, time was slipping from their hands and Bilyk was unable to score during the free throw.

Said after the game:

Gonzalo Peres de Vargas: "There were a lot of ups and downs, but finally we found our rhythm. We played compact in defence and that allowed to us to play better. In the second half, to start with a 3-0 break gave us a lot of confidence."

Alfred Gislasson: "I’m not too happy; maybe we deserved a point. We made a mistakes in the 7 metre area and during out fast breaks. Barca and Kiel are two teams whicht are changing for the future. I'm proud of my team; we played well, but the mistakes don’t give us the possibility to take any points away from Palau."

Telekom Veszprém (HUN) vs. Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) 32:28 (16:15)

After letting a win slip from their fingertips in their opener at Flensburg, Telekom Veszprém claimed their first victory in this VELUX EHF Champions League season. In order to do so, they had to break a tough Kadetten resistance.

The “red wall” in the stands of the Veszprém Arena could celebrate again, as they did in every VELUX EHF Champions League home match since April 2013 - but none of the Hungarian fans had expected such a close match against Kadetten, who had lost their opener on home ground against Bjerringbro.

Gajic on fire in first half
After an equal start, many thought the 2015 and 2016 Champions League finalists would take the upper hand quite easily, but they were unsuccessful. Even a 9:6 lead was not enough to cast off the Swiss champions. Schaffhausen stood strong in defence and had a high efficiency in attack, waiting patiently for their chances until the break. The half-time result was a close 16:15 for Veszprém, thanks to their new right winger, Dragan Gajic, who had arrived from Montpellier and managed to net five of his six total goals in the first half.

Nagy handicaps team to begin second half
Right after the break, Kadetten clasped their opportunity to take their only lead of the game 17:16, scored by strong Swiss international, Luka Maros. Then Veszprém took the match more seriously, even though they were handicapped by the fact that their team captain, Laszlo Nagy, had been punished with two two-minute suspensions quite early in the second 30 minutes.

Alilovic and Ilic step up
When Croatian goalkeeper, Mirko Alilovic, began to close the door and his country-fellow, Renato Sulic, netted in with nearly no mistake, the hosts forged ahead to their first four-goal advance at 22:18. Still nothing was decided, as Kadetten reduced the gap once again. Already, the number of mistakes from Kadetten had risen, due to their lack of power against Veszprém and their opponent's wider bench, along with their unstoppable top scorer, Momir Ilic (7 goals).

It took until minute 56 with the score of 31:26, when the encounter was decided as expected. In contrast to their defeat against Bjerringbro, Kadetten had clearly improved - but still have zero points to their name in this competition. In contrast to his eleven-goal gala in the first round, Schaffhausen’s playmaker and former Veszprém player, Gabor Czaszar, was not able to impact the match that much, scoring only twice from seven attempts. For his team, Luka Maros (7 goals), Manuel Liniger (6 goals) and Austrian goalkeeper, Nikola Marinovic, were the best players.

Said after the game:

Dragan Gajic: "Schaffhausen proved to everyone and showed us that there are no easy games in the Champions League and that they deserve to be in Group A. The difference was the key plays we made during tough moments. We tried to concentrate on defense today and from that we could score important goals. Also, it is fantastic to play in this kind of atmosphere."

Lars Walther: "Our goal was to play a good game and we managed to achieve that. We tried to lead long plays and we succeeded with that. I am proud of my team because they kept their discipline and fulfilled my tactical instructions. There were times when they lost their heads, but it is understandable against such a good team as Veszprém."

Gábor Csaszar: "It was a super experience to play here in Veszprém with my third team. There were lots of familiar faces and I would like to thank the Veszprém fans for welcoming me with such an ovation. We played until our last strength, but the difference in quality between the two teams was  especially the benches. We were struggling in offence from the 50th minute, but we are not sad about the final result. We can play in this group and we are trying to bring good news home after every match."

TEXT: Björn Pazen / tm