With the suspense of penaltieswith epic of overcoming impossible moments, with uncertainty because the goal to avoid extra time was scored by Karalev for Kielce one second from the limit, Barça gets its eleventh Championsthe first team to win two consecutively since the title was disputed as a Final Four: 37-35 (14-13, 28-28, 32-32). In a sinuous season, in which his game was questioned, Carlos Ortega (in the end he wins the Champions League as a coach) gets his squad to arrive in Cologne at a time of perfect form, and with the squad psyched up to play 40+ minutes without the brain Cindric, injured at the start of the second half, and to fight with a Polish team that had beaten them in both games of the league. And all for a detail, that of Gonzalo Pérez who saved Álex Dujshebaev’s penalty, and because Wolff touched the ball to Gómez and Mem, but did not stop them.
It was an outstanding game, one of those that explains why this sport of vigorous, stocky and heavy guys who move the ball at a thousand miles per hour and react at breakneck speed, has so much prestige in the countries of Central Europe. Without a doubt, it is one of the finals that will be remembered in the coming years, without a single name being able to be singled out as the man of the match even though the EHF grants center Karalek the title of best player.
Kielce, who started with the Dujshebaev on the bench, who Talant dosed them for the important moments, was overwhelmed at first. Barça was speeding up, going a thousand miles per hour, but when it was seen that Ortega gave entrance to Makuk too soon that did not bode well for Cindric, that in fact in the third minute of the second half he left to never return. By then the game was already in a draw, in a pendulum of one goal for any of the rivals.
Talant started the second half with a different front row, Kulesh, and Dani and Álex Dujsebaev, and later brought in Karacic as well, with Karalek as the pivot. Barça, faced with the imponderables, opted for a French first line, N’Guessan, Richardson in the center and Mem. Fabregas in the pivot because Ben Ali did not count. Ortega maintained an orthodox game throughout the season, and Talant bet on his most risky and surprising decisions, with a game that stops at times to seek a kind of instant cataclysm.
Both teams had options to win, both needed to come from behind, with the Dujshebaev brothers complicating Barça’s existence, although everything was decided on the third penalty, when Álex faced Gonzalo Pérez, face to face between the two leaders of the National Team. The Cantabrian faked, the Toledo held, and when the thrower released the ball, there was the goalkeeper’s body. Decisive play because for Barça they all scoredGómez (104 goals, top scorer in the Champions League), Mem, Richardson, Ali Zein and the last Fábregas.
Joan Laporta had to bet: between basketball and handball he accompanied this team to Cologne. Here a European title was played, and in Madrid either it was lost, or it was won to return to the Palau. For his image, it went well: he returns home with the Champions League, and with two players with Barça’s four Champions League titles in the current format, Gonzalo Pèrez and Aitor Gómez, at a very good height in the final.