Handball: Barcelona to face Aalborg in Champions League final

After the success of the Scandinavian team in front of Paris (35-33) and the Catalan ogre against the other French club of the last four (31-26), the final of this edition 2021 will give place to a clash of extremes.

In search of a tenth trophy, FC Barcelona mastered Nantes in the semifinals of the Champions League of handball, Saturday, June 12, in Cologne. It will face the Danish neophyte, Aalborg, surprise winner of Paris-Saint-Germain, in the final of the Champions League, Sunday at 18 hours.

After the success of the Scandinavian team in front of Paris (35-33) and the Catalan ogre against the other French club of the last four (31-26), the final of this edition 2021 will be a clash of extremes. This is only the first participation of Aalborg in the Final Four.

There will be no 100% French duel, as three years ago when Montpellier won the final against Nantes to win the Cup for the second time. The MHB remains the only French team to have gone all the way.

In the Lanxess Arena, sparse due to the Covid-19 pandemic (700 to 800 spectators), FC Barcelona enforced the hierarchy (31-26), something that is not systematic in a competition format marked by surprises since its first edition in 2010.

The revenge of the underdogs

The performance of Aalborg in front of PSG showed it again. Led by Swedish centre-half Felix Claar (9 goals), the Scandinavian club turned the tables in the last quarter of an hour. For the fifth time in six years, the Parisian club fails in the Final Four and will have to wait another year to hope to finally win the trophy.

The French champion can only blame himself and the spaces left to the Scandinavian strikers, Claar of course, but also René Antonsen (five goals) or Henrik Mollgaard (four goals), former left back of PSG.

“We lacked rigor and discipline in our game. The intensity was there, but the rigor and intensity were on Aalborg’s side in the second half. They stayed calm, they took the lead and everything was going well for them at a time when it was not going well for us”, summarized Nedim Remili, the best scorer of his team (7).

The team of the capital led in the score during more than forty-five minutes and took until 5 lengths of advance in the second period (21-16). But the future team of Danish back Mikkel Hansen (6 goals) found the resources to reverse the trend thanks to its fast game and high-flying fireworks. The PSG goalkeepers Vincent Gerard and Yann Genty were not able to be decisive.

The opportunity for the Barcelona team to win again

“I don’t have any hair left to lose, and today I’m ten or fifteen years older! But I am so proud,” said Aalborg coach Stefan Madsen. To convert the dream into reality, his squad will have to achieve another feat on Sunday, against Barça, who were solid against Nantes. The Blaugrana were leading 15-13 at the break, like PSG, but they did not crack before the onslaught of the “H”.

Nantes gave a good resistance against Barcelona and its four Frenchmen (Mem, Fabregas, Nguessan, Sorhaindo), who however had the last word. The “H”, which had eliminated two big guns, Veszprem and Kielce, in the previous rounds, gave in in the last quarter of an hour. The Blaugrana could count on a good Gonzalo Perez de Vargas in goal.

Less than six months after their defeat in the final of the 2020 edition in front of the Germans of Kiel, the Barcelonans therefore have a new opportunity to win this European Cup for the first time since 2015. Aalborg, on the other hand, can become the first Danish club to add their name to the competition’s trophy cabinet.

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