The curse of the Final Four is in jeopardy. While the European champion has never managed to retain his title for twelve years that the semi-finals and the final of the Champions League are played over a weekend in Cologne, FC Barcelona, winner of Kiel on Saturday (34-30), will be present in the final on Sunday (6 p.m.) at the Lanxess Arena against Kielce. In search of an eleventh crown since 1991, Barça is already the first holder to reach the final in Cologne. It will be his third in a row since 2020.
Saturday, in the heart of an overheated enclosure, the Catalan ogre won a revenge for his final lost against all odds against Kiel in 2020 (28-33). The German giant, greatly diminished after the serious injuries of its star Sander Sagosen and its pivot Hendrik Pekeler, only kept up the pace during the first period (18-19 at the break). Over half an hour open house, the goals of Harald Reinkind (4/4 shooting) and Patrick Wiencek (6/7) responded to the Catalan assaults.
Irresistible acceleration after returning from the locker room
But on returning from the locker room, Barça and its four Blues (Ludovic Fabregas, Dika Mem, Timothey N’Guessan and Melvyn Richardson) accelerated irresistibly. A few saves from Gonzalo Perez de Vargas widened a first gap (20-23, 36th). Two huge shots from the former Dunkirk Haniel Langaro drove the point home (23-27, 39th).
And Aleix Gomez took care of the rest. Devilishly efficient (12/13 in shooting), the right winger trained at the club continued to inflate the score (25-31, 49th). After a series of temporary exclusions from Barcelona (including a very severe red card for Youssef Benali), Kiel returned to three lengths (29-32, 57th). But N’Guessan, now one of the oldest in the Catalan house (he arrived in 2016), took charge of extinguishing the last inclinations of the opponents (29-33, 58th) with an overpowered shot celebrated by a furious cry.
With his twelve goals, Aleix Gomez fell just one unit short of the record in a match at the Final Four, set in 2010 by his predecessor at Barça Juanin Garcia.
It was the third goal of the former Chambéry. Dika Mem, a little less prominent than usual, scored four. Ludovic Fabregas, fresh from appendicitis surgery, scored twice while Melvyn Richardson remained silent. “We did a very good job until the end, said Dika Mem calmly at the microphone of Eurosport. The first period was not easy, but we raised the tone in defense. Now we want the double. »
Barça will therefore challenge Kielce, faller of Veszprem (37-35), in an expected and very open final. It will crown at least two French players since Kielce also has its pair of Blues, Dylan Nahi and Nicolas Tournat.
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