Aus the dream: Despite a strong fighting performance, THW Kiel missed the final in the Champions League and must therefore continue to wait for the fifth triumph after 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2020. The German record champions lost in the semifinals in front of 19,750 spectators in Cologne on Saturday against defending champions and record winners FC Barcelona by 30:34 (18:19). “Of course I’m disappointed, but I’m also proud of my boys. If you want to win against Barça you have to show a perfect performance. We didn’t manage that today,” said THW trainer Filip Jicha. And captain Domagoj Duvnjak confessed: “We are sad.”
In the game for third place, THW meets Hungary’s top club Telekom Veszprem on Sunday. “It’s a thankless game. But we’ll get up again and do everything we can,” Jicha promised. Barcelona will then be challenged in the fight for Europe’s handball crown by Vive Kielce with national goalkeeper Andreas Wolff (6 p.m. live on DAZN). The former Kieler held his own with the Polish champions against Veszprem with 37:35 (16:18).
Sagosen and Pekeler are missing
In the new edition of the victorious final of 2020, Kiel were initially able to compensate for the loss of superstar Sander Sagosen and defense chief Hendrik Pekeler. But as the season progressed, the absence of the injured key players became more and more noticeable. “I don’t want to look for excuses, but of course we missed them,” said Duvnjak.
The defense was not always able to keep the strong offensive of the Catalans in check, but in attack they often successfully tried to get through the circle. With seven goals, Patrick Wiencek was the best thrower in coach Jicha’s team, who, as a player, was able to win the most important trophy in club handball with both THW and Barça.
As the playing time increased, the backcourt players also ignited – above all Harald Reinkind. In the end, the Norwegian scored six goals. In this way, THW kept the game against the ten-time cup winner open in the first half.
Wolff in the final of the Champions League for the first time
After the change, however, the Catalans pulled away by three goals for the first time at 23:20 and from then on dictated the game. Although the THW braced itself against the impending defeat with heart and passion, it could not avert it. The best scorer for the Spanish series champion was Aleix Gómez with twelve goals.
There was great jubilation for national goalkeeper Wolff after entering the final with Kielce. Although the 31-year-old rarely excelled at the peat festival against Veszprem, in the end the joy of victory prevailed. “I am very, very happy. We showed a lot of heart and character and showed incredible morale,” said Wolff. He can now crown his first participation in the Final-4 in the cathedral city with the title.