Barça make it to their 13th Champions League final
Barça continued their perfect season in the semi-final against HBC Nantes on Saturday night, recording their 19th win in 19 Champions League matches. Although the score was level only once, Barça had a tough nut to crack until the 50th minute.
Sunday’s final against Aalborg will be the 13th EHF Champions League final for the record winners. They have won eight times – including twice at Cologne in 2011 and 2015 – and lost four times, including the last edition in December 2020 against Kiel.
In his penultimate match as a player, Raul Entrerrios won the duel against his older brother Alberto, Nantes’ coach. HBC left wing Valero Rivera (now on 92 goals, one below Mikita Vailupau/Brest) and Barça right back Dika Mem (90) will fight for the top scorer trophy in different matches, as Nantes face PSG in an all-French placement match against PSG.
Barça (ESP) vs HBC Nantes (FRA) 31:26 (15:13)
- Barça had a flying start, leading 3:0 and 6:3, but then Nantes improved thanks to saves from goalkeeper Emil Nielsen, who will join Barça in 2022
- at the other end, Gonzalo Perez de Vargas was on an equal level as Nielsen, saving 38 per cent of all shots in the first half. By the end of the match Perez had saved 16 shots, Nielsen 14
- Barça’s fifth goal, scored by Aleix Gómez, was Barça’s 500th goal this season. No other team has ever scored so many goals in one season
- besides Nielsen’s saves, the young line players Dragan Pechmalbec and Théo Monar were Nantes’ assets
- after the break, Barça missed an unusually high number of chances to score only twice in the first 12 minutes – mostly against cold-as-ice Nielsen. Valero Rivera, the top scorer with six strikes, managed to level the result for the first and only time at 17:17
- however when Barça pulled ahead from 20:18 to 27:21, the deal was sealed
- Barça’s mastermind Aron Palmarsson could not add another game to his 18 EHF FINAL4 matches so far, ruled out due to a calf injury
Barça on the way to the perfect season
They have won all 19 EHF Champions League matches of the season 2020/21, they have never lost any match against their final opponent Aalborg, and they are the first team ever to score more than 500 goals in a Champions League season – Barça are on the brink of writing more history on Sunday.
On Saturday, they became the first team ever to win 10 matches at the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, and on Sunday, Xavi Pascual can become the first coach ever to win three trophies at Cologne in his last match for the Catalan side.
We felt joy after reaching the final but on the other side, we’ve been there a few times and we know that this is only half-time. Unfortunately, at the end of the EHF FINAL4 there is only one winner and three losers, so this time we are going to win.
The difference was not only visible in the last minutes, but for the whole match. We tried, we played with a lot of heart, but we played without head and we lost the match in attack.