Barcelona leave FINAL4 empty-handed
June 4, 2017
MATCH REVIEW – Apparently, Veszprém wanted third place at the 2017 FINAL4 a bit more than Barcelona, and after relinquishing a four goal lead in the first half, Laszlo Nagy & Co left no doubt after the break.
By Peter Bruun
Veszprém (HUN) vs FC Barcelona (ESP) 34:30 (18:17)\
Before the Match
When a team has won the Champions League eight times, like Barcelona did, playing a bronze medal match may not feel particularly exciting.
Still, “Barca” tried to make the best of this edition of the FINAL4 in Cologne, after digesting the disappointment of having missed the final in the very last seconds of the semi-final against Vardar.
Veszprém’s hope to win the Champions League this year was extinguished by Paris Saint-Germain.
Now, the only question was how much motivation the Hungarian side could activate for securing a bronze medal, but playing against Barcelona would certainly help in the effort.
The match also turned into a contest between the two Spanish coaches – Javier Sabate (Veszprém) and Xavi Pascual (Barcelona).
Veszprém lost a four-goal lead in the first half, but in the second, they soon decided the encounter in their favor, regardless of Barcelona´s tactical measures on both ends of the court.
Veszprém had several four goal leads along the way, but at half time, it was almost equal after all.
At the start, Xavi Pascual had chosen to rest some of his key players such as Perez de Vargas and Valero Rivera Junior, and it took him 20 minutes to realize that this was not such a good idea.
Once coach Pascual started to send his first-choice players on the pitch, it did not take his men long to catch up. Javier Sabate, on the other side, utilized his two main playmakers, Aron Palmarsson and Mate Lekai ,at the same time – a successful move.
Veszprém´s offense had a better flow to it than in the semi-final against Paris, and Lekai as well as Palmarsson were also more dangerous on their own.
Furthermore, Spanish left-wing Cristian Ugalde played an excellent role, scoring five goals on as many attempts in the first half alone.
Towards half time, Pascual pushed Dika Mem forward to a 5-1 defense formation. The move confused Veszprém’s attack to a certain degree. In fact, Mem’s first action, resulted in a steal and a goal.
With three minutes left, Kamil Syprzak drew even at 16:16, still Veszprém were one goal up at the half.
Raul Entrerrios opened the second half, scoring the equalizer (18:18), for the last time in the match.
Veszprém soon went up by three goals and took full advantage.
Barcelona´s 5-1 defense did no longer caused any trouble, and neither did the change to a 4-2 formation.
The game was decided once Veszprém got a five-goal lead at 27:22 with 14 minutes left. The remainder of the match turned into an exchange of goals, without Barcelona ever closing the gap.
Player of the Match
Aron Palmarsson avenged a poor semi-final performance with a stellar effort in the bronze medal match.
He takes the award, closely followed by his teammate, Mate Lekai.
“Barcelona belong at the FINAL4”, Victor Tomas said before the event.
This may be true but Xavi Pascual will face a tough job, bringing his team back to a level, where they can do better next year
To Veszprém, the victory provides some consolation for another broken hope of winning the Champions League.
The Hungarian top club, may very well be back in Cologne next year, but will they ever go all the way?
Veszprém: A. Palmarsson (8), M. Lekai (6), C. Ugalde (6), L. Nagy (6), A. Nilsson (5), D. Gajic (2), G. Ancsin (1)
Barcelona: T. N’Guessan (6), R. Entrerrios (5), V. Rivera (5), A. Arino (4), W. Jallouz (3), K. Lazarov (3), D. Mem (1), V. Morros (1), K. Syrpzak (1), V. Tomas (1)