Barça bidding for title number nine
Already qualified for the EHF FINAL4 in December, record EHF Champions League Men winners Barça will fight for two Champions League trophies in the upcoming season.
Barça have an extensive, young and talented roster with a lot of potential to fight for both titles, but the team is now under pressure to deliver their ninth EHF Champions League title.
- the Spanish champions are eyeing two CL titles this season, as they are also part of the delayed VELUX EHF FINAL4 2020 in December
- perennial title contenders Barça have not won the CL since 2015, and the 2019 semi-final defeat against Vardar is still hurting
- Barça are entering their first season after team captain and club legend Victor Tomas’s retirement with a heart problem
- Raul Entrerrios postponed his retirement by one season to try to play in the Tokyo Olympic Games. In his last season, the Spanish national captain will also assume the Barça captaincy
- the club signed four young and talented players: Blaz Janc (23), Domen Makuc (20), Luis Frade (22) and Haniel Hangaro (25)
- long-term head coach Xavi Pascual successfully introduced a new, faster playing philosophy two seasons ago and he plans to increase the tempo of the game again
Most important question: Will it finally be the year for Barça again?
As Barça have no rivals in the national competitions, all the focus is on the Champions League every season. Qualification for the EHF FINAL4 is mandatory, and winning the title is almost mandatory.
The last time that Barça were champions was in 2015, which is a long time ago for a team constructed to win the Champions League. After the inexplicable defeat in 2019 in the semi-finals against Vardar, they cannot fail again. Barça have played amazingly in the last few seasons, but they need to finish the job when the decisive matches arrive.
Head coach Xavi Pascual agrees that reaching the EHF FINAL4 and competing for the title is the club's primary objective each season.
“The first objective is to regain normality at the competition level. Then we will have some sports goals to achieve. In our case, it is to qualify for a Final Four and have the option to win the Champions League," said Pascual.
Under the spotlight: Luka Cindric and Aron Palmarsson
The two superstars showed that the connection between them was almost perfect in their first season together, on and off the court, but they must now exhibit this during the key part of the season – when the Champions League is decided.
The club and fans expect them to lead the team to the trophy.
How they rate themselves
Preparing for the decisive phase of last season, Barça's level of self-esteem was high until the season was suspended due to the pandemic.
Returning to the same level of confidence will be a key factor, but the team must also deal with the retirement of their great captain and leader, Victor Tomas. Some players will have to step up to cover his absence.
New captain Raul Entrerrios is excited at the prospect of Barça returning to action in Europe's premier club competition.
“Resuming the competition is what makes us most excited. To be able to have the feeling of playing in a competition like the Champions League again, and when that happens, to compete,” he said.
“Considering that we have a Final Four in December, they are two goals for the team and for the club," Entrerrios added about Barça's aims for the upcoming season.
Did you know?
When the global pandemic interrupted the 2019/20 competition, Barça had just reached their longest Champions League winning run. After losing in the opening round of the group phase in Szeged, Barça earned 13 consecutive victories and were directly qualified for the quarter-finals.
Now, the team will try to extend the record. Barça's previous record of 12 wins was recorded across two seasons between April 2011 and February 2012, and it included the 27:24 victory against Ciudad Real in the 2011 final.
What the numbers say
The average age of the Barça roster is 27 years old – but it is 26 if you discount two of their veteran players: Raul Entrerrios (39) and Cedric Sorhaindo (36).
The Catalan club have one of the youngest rosters in Europe, but at the same time, they have a lot of talent and experience.
Newcomers and left the club
Newcomers: Blaz Janc (Lomza Vive Kielce), Domen Makuc (RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko), Haniel Langaro (Dunkerque), Luis Frade (Sporting Clube)
Left the club: Victor Tomas (retired), Lasse Andersson (Füchse Berlin), Abel Serdio (Wisla Plock, on loan)
- EHF Champions League:
Participations (including 2020/21 season): 24
Winners (8): 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2004/05, 2010/11, 2014/15
Runners-up (3): 2000/01, 2009/10, 2012/13
Semi-final (5): 2007/08, 2013/14, 2016/17, 2018/19, 2019/20
Quarter-final (4): 2005/06, 2006/07, 2011/12, 2015/16
Last 16 (2): 2003/04, 2017/18
Main Round (1): 2008/09
EHF Cup: Winners 2002/03, Runners-up 2001/02
Cup Winners' Cup: Winners 1993/94, 1994/95
(IHF) European Champions Cup: 1990/91
IHF Super Globe: 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019
Spanish league: 27 titles (1969, 1973, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1988-92, 1996-2000, 2003, 2006, 2011-20)
Spanish Cup: 24 titles