Barca fight off Montpellier comeback to secure group win
February 24, 2019
Men´s Champions League
MATCH REVIEW – Barca Lassa surrendered a six-goal advantage in Montpellier, only to take an even bigger lead, as the Catalans secured first place in Group A, while proceeding straight to the quarter-final.
Montpellier still have a chance to move on to the next round.
By Peter Bruun
stregspiller.com – MATCH OF THE WEEK
Montpellier HB vs Barca Lassa 28:36 (12:18)
After a first half that was completely dominated by Barca, after the break Montpellier only needed nine minutes to catch up with a six-goal deficit.
What followed was a demonstration of great handball, as Barca cruised to an eight-goal win in the last 20 minutes of the match. No doubt – Tomas & Co. are a hot contender for the Champions League title this season.
Montpellier had center back, Kyllian Villeminot, back for the first time after the winter break and providing coach, Patrice Canayer, with an extra option in the playmaker position.
However, Villeminot did not add much to a French attack, that rarely pushed Barca’s defense to the edge.
Montpellier had big problems following Barca´s pace, but then again, what can you do against a team including outstanding players like Aron Palmarsson, Timothey N´guessan and Kamil Syprzak or Raul Entrerrios, Gilberto Duarte and Ludovic Fabregas? One can only envy Xavi Pascual for his deep and versatile roster.
Montpellier were only ahead once in the first half – at 3:2, but after scoring five goals in a row, Barca took a commanding lead and did not look back.
Melvyn Richardson helped Montpellier’s effort a bit as left-handed playmaker – still it was not enough to pose a real threat to Barca as they extended their advantage from four goals (7:3) to six until halftime.
It was a completely different Montpellier team that returned from the locker room and a “It cannot get any worse” attitude had lifted any pressure.
It all paid off at first, as it took Montpellier only nine minutes to catch up with Barca´s six-goal lead, as Vid Kavticnik’s drew even at 20:20.
However, it takes more to shake Barca’s experienced squad. Montpellier hung in until 21:21, but five minutes later, Barca were ahead by five goals once again (27:22).
From that point, the visitors were dictating the course of the match, eliminating any doubt which team would leave the arena as a winner.
Having secured the quarter-final already, Barca can take things a bit easier in their last group match at home against Rhein-Neckar Löwen, on Saturday.
Montpellier can still determine their own future, but they will need a win when they visit Vardar – another club that aims for second place.