Nightmare start for Saracevic as Barcelona find their rhythm againArticle
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GROUP A MATCH REVIEW: Zlatko Saracevic lost his first match as the head coach of HC PPD Zagreb when FC Barcelona Lassa came to visit in the opening match of Round 9.

Nightmare start for Saracevic as Barcelona find their rhythm again

A strong start for the visitors laid the groundwork for an eight-goal victory, 32:24, Barcelona‘s first in the last three games and it brings the Catalans up to the second place in the group with 12 points.

  • After one point in their last two games, Barcelona are back on the winning road and are now second in Group A
  • Zlatko Saracevic was not able to deliver Zagreb‘s first home victory
  • Zagreb cut the lead down to two goals after the break before Barcelona turned up the heat again


HC Prvo plinarsko drustvo Zagreb (CRO) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 24:32 (11:16)

Barcelona came into this game aggressively after disappointing in recent outings and were already 4:0 up when new Zagreb coach Zlatko Saracevic was forced to take a time-out after less than five minutes.

This enabled Zagreb to wake up after their awful start, but Barcelona never let the home side get close in the first half.

Matevz Skok saved a couple of clear-cut chances in Zagreb‘s goal late in the first half which denied Barcelona an even bigger lead during the break, but they still took a five-goal cushion (16:11) into the break.

Zagreb come back, but not enough

The game was far from over however. Saracevic was able to exude his energy from the bench onto court and his players cut the lead down to two goals (20:18) and bring themselves back into the game.

But what happened next was not on Zagreb’s agenda as Barcelona fired up the engine again and increased their lead to eight goals in no time (27:19).

Zagreb could not find the answers as their opponents punished the home side with fast-break goals one after another and the Catalan side never looked back after that, packing two points into their luggage long before the trip back home, eventually winning by eight (32:24).

Dika Mem and Valero Rivera both netted seven goals for Barcelona, with Zarko Markovic Zagreb’s top scorer on six strikes.

Barcelona now lie in second place, three points behind HC Vardar, who play Rhein-Neckar Löwen on Sunday night.

Speaking after the game, HC PPD Zagreb coach Zlatko Saracevic was positive, despite the loss. “I have to be honest and say we're far too slow for this kind of handball at the moment.

“We did not manage to catch them in defence or foul them - we did not have one two-minute suspension and that all says quite enough. We also made some mistakes in attack, but I have to add I'm satisfied with the approach as I saw will in my team.

“I feel a little bad because of such big difference in the end but that's sport. We must keep on working and improving.”

His opposite number on the FC Barcelona Lassa bench, Xavier Pascual, admitted he had some challenges in the preparation, but was satisfied in the end.

“It was not easy to prepare the team after the loss against Szeged,” he said, “But the good thing is we opened the match well which boosted our confidence. In the second half there were many ups and downs especially in defence which was visible with the result.”

TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson/amc