Palau too mystic for the ex-unbeaten HC Vardar
A strong FC Barcelona Lassa defense turned the spell against an unbeaten HC Vardar. Xavi's players get two important points to try and reach the 2nd place at the group, Raul his going home to lick the wounds.
The Palau Blaugrana was ready for this VELUX EHF Champions League return after the EURO.
And what better way to re-start the biggest handball competition than with a Match of the Week against the current unbeaten champion, HC Vardar?
This was one of the most anticipated matches. Barcelona lost 24:27 in Skopje with their defense incapable of stopping Cindric’s and his companions maneuvers. Would we see a repeat or would Xavi’s tactics together with Palau’s mystic atmosphere get the best over Raul’s squad?
As the last people in the arena were still sitting down, Vardar was already shooting Barcelona’s goal but it stopped on a injury recovered Perez de Vargas, letting the home team take the score advantage against the Macedonians.
Both teams started really fast, trying to break each others strategy and get a bigger goal gap. The Spaniards seemed to have the upper hand, scoring first, applying pressure but never showed total control of the game. And that was noticeable when Vardar came from the back to a 4-0 differential turning the score 8:6 to 8:10.
Raul’s team got their first and only lead of the match. Xavi quickly asked for TO, changed the line players, the attack and believed in his goalkeeper.
Actually you could say that Barcelona - Vardar first half was a clash of goalies, as Perez de Vargas seemed to challenge Sterbik for a one on one dispute as both men had numerous saves. Thanks to that the scoresheet at halftime was 15:14.
Second half began with Vardar scoring and tying the match once again, thanks to an inspired Kristopans who was the best scorer of this MOTW with 7 goals. Just one more than Barcelona’s Jallouz. The only difference for the first 30 minutes was the Spaniards approach. They came from the locker rooms more determined and focused, and got a 3 goal lead after Vardar’s draw 15:15. Supported in a great exhibition from Perez de Vargas, for many the best Player of the Match, and a true inspired “warrior” Viran Morros (more like a Russel Crowe in Gladiator) Barcelona finally showed their home ground strength getting a 3 goal lead (18:15), their defense became tighter and stronger, more aggressive, which ended in interceptions and fast breaks to en empty net, as Vardar risked too much. Raul was trying, you could see in his face looking for an answer to dismantle the Culés defense, but this time the spell went backwards. Vardar’s wizard couldn’t think of a way out and the home team confidence grew bigger as the score gap. 24:20 was the biggest advantage in the match and thanks to that Vardar asked for a TO. They did managed to diminish the goal difference but Xavi didn’t want to throw points away, especially because Nantes was already in front of Barcelona in Group A.
Until the end, Vardar just tried to close the gap and get at least one point, which would be the very first they would ever conquer at Palau Blaugrana. Unfortunately for the current VELUX EHF Champions, their unbeaten series came to an end last saturday, as Barcelona took the home win 29:28, the two points and a not very often Player of the Match award to Viran Morros, who scored 4 goals more than the double interceptions and leaded his team to victory.
Barça Lassa: Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas (-), Victor Tomàs (2), Raúl Entrerríos (4), Sorhaindo (2), Ariño (2), Dika Mem (2), Viran Morros (4) –siete inicial- Rivera (1), N’Guessan (4), Syprzak (1), Alexis (-), Dolenec (-), Aleix Gómez (1), Jallouz (6).
Vardar: Sterbik (-), Stoilov (1), Kristopans (7), Cindric (5), Dibirov (3), Shishkarev (3), Borozan (4) –siete inicial- Milic (ps), Ferreira Moraes (1), Maqueda (1), Abutovic (-), Cañellas (1), Marsenic (-), Karacic (2).
Parciales: 4-2 / 6-5 / 8-7 / 9-10 / 10-11 / 15-14 (descanso) / 18-16 / 20-17 / 22-19 / 23-20 / 27-24 / 29-28 (final).
Árbitros: Martin Gjeding y Mads Hansen.
Asistencia: 4.219 espectadores en el Palau Blaugrana