10 reasons this season will be the 10th success for BarçaArticle
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FIRST-HAND INSIGHT: Barça Lassa have been chasing their 10th success in Europe's top flight since 2015, and this season might be the right one. We outline 10 reasons why
 

10 reasons this season will be the 10th success for Barça

After finishing the previous season with their worst result in the VELUX EHF Champions League since 2008/09, Barça Lassa entered the 2018/19 edition with determination and a loudly spoken goal to be present at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in June. The Spanish powerhouse have been almost unstoppable this season, collecting 14 wins and just two defeats on the path to the final weekend. 

As winners of Group A – ahead of the other three semi-finalists – Barça jumped straight to the quarter-finals and did not stumble, taking one of the clearest aggregate victories as they eliminated last season’s finalists HBC Nantes. With their qualification for Cologne, Barça became the team with the top participation record at the EHF FINAL4, having reached the pinnacle weekend seven times including this year. 

With six nominations in the 2018/19 All-star Team, the most of any club alongside Veszprém and Szeged, Barça have both individual quality and one of the deepest squads in the competition. 

Will their perfect season end in Cologne? Here are 10 reasons the record winners will finally claim their long-awaited 10thtitle in Europe’s top-flight competition. 

1. Aron Palmarsson: back to peak form

The Icelandic centre back might have been playing below his level last season, but he has been back to old antics in 2018/19. Passing, shooting, leading – the two-time Champions League winner with THW Kiel is ready to add a third trophy to his record.

2. Power to the youth

Three of the four top Champions League scorers for Barça this season are aged 22 and below. Dika Mem, Ludovic Fabregas and Aleix Gomez have proven all season long that they are not afraid of taking responsibility. Expect more of the same at the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

3. The upper hand

This might seem a mere detail, but Barça have beaten all the other teams at the FINAL4 during the regular season – some of them twice. Of course, the weekend in Cologne is a completely different matter, but at least the Spanish side know the key to their opponents.

4. Unshakable confidence

Never panic. Always go forward. That could be some kind of mantra for this Barça team. After an initial defeat to open the season, the Blaugrana collected nine straight wins, where many would have been knocked down. 

5. The best bench at the VELUX EHF FINAL4

What team playing in Cologne this season can say that their bench players are as experienced as Barça’s? Maybe Veszprém. But when Timothey N’Guessan, Victor Tomas, Raul Entrerrios or Cedric Sorhaindo fight on the court for a couple of minutes, you can feel that Barça have enough depth in their squad to handle two huge battles in Cologne.

6. Hungry as hell

The last time Barça qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 was in 2017, two years after their latest Champions League success. Even though they have already won every domestic title, all the Barça players have been talking about all season is the Champions League – and you can feel that they do not need any extra motivation.

7. Dika Mem’s killer instinct

Many of the players in this Barça squad are able to decide a game in its dying seconds. But Dika Mem is generally the player with the ball in his hands when clutch time comes – and he misses the final shot very rarely. An ability that may prove very useful in Cologne.

8. A huge variety of tactics

Having that many players on the bench gives you the opportunity to change the playing system whenever you want. Want some long-distance shots? Lasse Andersson is here for you. Want some one-on-one action? Gilberto Duarte is your man. And every position has as many options as the left back.

9. Danger on the line: Ludovic Fabregas

At 22, Ludovic Fabregas has been, without any question, one of the best players of the Champions League season. Defending, attacking – leaving us wondering what he is not good at. No wonder he is nominated for the All-Star Team yet again. 

10. The best handball of the season

Everyone that saw Barça play this season witnessed the most beautiful handball of the competition. A fluid version of the game, where the ball flies from hand to hand and offence is the main word. Will it be enough to beat more physical teams such as Veszprém and Vardar? We believe it will.


TEXT: Kevin Domas / Courtney Gahan
 
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