3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH PREVIEW: Like in the 2015 final and the 2014 placement match, Barcelona and Veszprém meet again in Cologne.
Two Spanish coaches face for the third rank
After losing their semi-finals by a margin of one goal each, FC Barcelona and Telekom Veszprém have to clear their heads for the penultimate match of the VELUX EHF Champions League 2016/17 season.
The placement match is the re-match of the 2015 final in Cologne
For Veszprém coach Javier Sabate it is his last match in his position, for Barcelona line player Jesper Noddesbo it is the last international match of his career with Barcelona
For Barca coach Xavi Pascual the match is the second encounter against another Spanish coach within 24 hours
Veszprém have never finished in third in the competition, while Barcelona took this rank once, after beating the same side, in 2014
3/4 Placement Match:
Telekom Veszprém (HUN) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP)
15:15 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com
1982 was the last year two clubs from the same country won the top European men’s and women’s club competition - the Champions Cup.
In 2017, Hungary had hoped to continue this history like 25 years ago but this dream – after Györi Audi ETO became Women’s EHF Champions League winners four weeks ago – ended on Saturday with Veszprém’s semi-final defeat against Paris Saint-Germain (27:26) in Cologne.
Now, the 2002, 2015 and 2016 Men’s EHF Champions League finalists will prepare to face the record winners of this competition, FC Barcelona, in the duel of the disappointed for the 3/4 Placement Match in the LANXESS arena.
The match is a re-match of the 2015 final, when Barcelona took the most recent of their eight Champions League titles, beating Veszprém 28:23.
This current season, the Catalan side won both group phase encounters against the Hungarian record champions (26:23, 25:22), and even a 3/4 placement match of both Champions League powerhouses had occurred in Cologne, again won by Barcelona (26:25). The overall balance is clearly in favour of the Catalans with 13 wins, 1 draw and 4 defeats.
For Javier Sabate it will be his last match as coach of Veszprém – and he will face another Spaniard, Barcelona’s coach Xavi Pascual, for whom it is the second duel with another Spanish coach in less than 24 hours, after losing the semi-final 26:25 against HC Vardar, coached by Raul Gonzalez.
“This was a very hard season with three hard competitions,” said Sabate, who is eager to win this prestigious duel. “But it is still not finished, there is another match to do, so we have to stand up as we want to finish the season with a victory at least.”
At the other end of the court, FC Barcelona were hit hard by their unexpected defeat against Vardar.
“If someone wants to cry tonight, he should,” said Barca left back Filip Jicha. “But on Sunday we should fully focus on our team performance. It is not about the result, but the team.”
For his teammate Jesper Nöddesbo, the match will be something special - after winning the Men’s EHF Champions League twice with Barcelona, the Danish Olympic champion will play his last international match for the club after he leaves to return to Denmark at the end of the season.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / amc