Barça aim for record sixth title in final against Magdeburg

09 Oct. 2021

Barça aim for record sixth title in final against Magdeburg

After five exciting days of handball with some of the best clubs in the world, the 2021 IHF Men’s Super Globe concludes on Saturday evening in Jeddah with a superb clash between German side SC Magdeburg and Spanish reigning champions Barça.

The odds are stacked against the German side, with Barça losing only one game in history in the competition – in 2015 against Füchse Berlin – as the Spanish powerhouse are searching for their fourth title in a row.

In the bronze-medal game, Danish champions Aalborg Håndbold will face Brazilian side EC Pinheiros, while the card will be opened by two games from the preliminary round 5-10, an all-Asian clash between Al Noor and Al Duhail and another game pitting together Zamalek SC and Al Wehda.

8 October, 20:30 AST
SC Magdeburg (GER) vs FC Barcelona (ESP)

Barça have never reached the final of the IHF Men’s Super Globe and failed to win, as the Spanish side is looking to extend their winning streak in the competition to four editions in a row.

This is, in fact, the battle between the winner of the last season’s EHF Champions League Men and the winner of the EHF European League Men, with two powerhouses colliding after a superb path to the final.

Barça had, indeed, their share of trouble in the quarter-final against Zamalek, only to shrug off a 0:5 start to secure an impressive 36:32 win. The Spanish powerhouse added another 39 goals in the match against Pinheiros, to head into the final with the best attack in the competition, scoring at a rate of 37.5 goals per game.

However, the Spanish powerhouse’s coach, Antonio Carlos Ortega, underlines the challenge posed by the German side. 

“We are facing a team which is in superb form, plays very good handball and defends very well. They run a lot and are surely among the top three sides in their domestic league, the Bundesliga,” said Ortega after the win against Pinheiros.

Indeed, Barça’s new coach knows the opponents very well, having coached Magdeburg’s German opponents Hannover Burgdorf in the past four seasons.

The German side have not lost a game this season, winning all nine of them and topping the Bundesliga prior to travelling to Saudi Arabia for the IHF Men’s Super Globe.

They have also the chance to win their first intercontinental trophy, only a few months after securing the first trophy since 2016, when they won the German Cup.

However, the challenge will be big, as Barça won all the five IHF Men’s Super Globe finals they played in, with the closest one coming in 2019, 34:32 against German side THW Kiel.

Moreover, four of the five finals were won against German opposition, HSV Hamburg in 2013, Füchse Berlin in 2017 and 2018, and THW Kiel in 2019.

“They are a team who could play in the EHF Champions League, if it were not for the two-team limit from the same country. We might be favourites on paper, but the challenge will be high,” concluded Barça’s coach.

Another advantage that might play in Barça’s favour is that Magdeburg played three games to reach the final, while the Spanish powerhouse had only two, including a straightforward procession against Pinheiros in the semi-finals.

The IHF Men’s Super Globe 2021 final will also be the first meeting between the two sides since 2005, when Barcelona took a 27:23 win in the EHF Champions League Men. In the last four games, Magdeburg won once and conceded three losses.

8 October, 18:15 AST
Aalborg Håndbold (DEN) vs EC Pinheiros (BRA)

The disappointment of failing to reach the final against Barça could not be dissimulated for Aalborg, after the painful 30:32 loss against Magdeburg on Thursday. 

The ambitious Danish side, the first-ever to represent the Scandinavian nation in the IHF Men’s Super Globe, lost the chance for a rematch of the last season’s EHF Champions League Men final against the Spanish powerhouse, but will be heavily favoured against Pinheiros in the bronze-medal match.

A dramatic win against Al Noor in the quarter-finals, 34:33, lifted Pinheiros to their best-ever result in the history of the competition and the Brazilian side already considers the IHF Men’s Super Globe 2021 as a success, after securing a place among the top four teams in the competition.

But the game against Aalborg will surely be a tough one for the Brazilian side, whose lack of experience and depth will be problematic. 

Aalborg’s experienced attack, who scored an average of 34 goals per game in the first two matches will definitely exert pressure on Pinheiros’ defence, the one that conceded the largest average of goals per game, 36.

If Aalborg win, Europe will send three teams to the top three places of the IHF Men’s Super Globe for the sixth time in a row, with Qatari side Al Sadd finishing second in 2014 to break the streak.

8 October, 13:45 AST
Al Noor Saudi Club (KSA) vs Al Duhail (QAT)

The first game of the day will be a battle of two Asian sides fighting for the first place in Group A, after beating San Francisco CalHeat in their first two games, a headliner for Asian handball, which failed to send a team among the top four sides in the IHF Men’s Super Globe for the first time since 2015.

After earning a 30:23 win against CalHeat, Al Duhail are leading the standings, with a difference of one goal ahead of Al Noor, who secured a 30:24 win against the American side. Therefore, a draw would be enough for the Qatari side to secure the first place in the group.

The Saudi side scored, on average, five goals more per game than their Qatari counterparts, while the two teams conceded the same amount of goals, 58, in their first two games.

However, it was Al Duhail who played on Friday against CalHeat, which could prove decisive in the game, after the American side really put a strain on the Asian club champions until the 40th minute.

Whether Al Noor’s freshness will matter or not, it will surely be a crunch match against two Asian rivals, who will tough it out for the unofficial title of the best team from the continent in the 2021 IHF Men’s Super Globe.

8 October, 16:00 AST
Zamalek SC (EGY) vs Al Wehda Club (KSA)

After a straightforward win against Sydney Uni on Thursday, 38:19, Zamalek Club can finish the IHF Men’s Super Globe 2021 with another win against Al Wehda, which would propel the Egyptian side to the fifth place in the final standings.

With plenty of players who donned the national team shirt in the last international tournaments, where Egypt shone, Zamalek showed grit and strength and, despite their loss against Barça in the quarter-finals, can finish the tournament on a high.

The Egyptian side have the second best attack in the competition, scoring 35 goals per game, just shy of Barca’s 37.5 goals per game average. They also boast the second best defence, conceding at a rate of only 27.5 goals per game, handing Al Wehda a hefty challenge.

The hosts really lacked focus in Friday’s game against Sydney Uni, conceding a crucial point after leading by as many as nine goals, heavily missing back Frankis Carol Marzo, who suffered a season-ending injury in the first game, therefore lacking the firepower to contend against any side. 

The Saudi side will rely once again on backs Angel Hernandez and Alexander Barabash, who combined for 30 goals in this competition, yet Hernandez was stopped against Sydney Uni, when he converted only four of his 13 shots, creating all sorts of problems for the Saudi side.

A loss would see Al Wehda finish eighth, a disappointing result for the hosts, who took the fourth place two years ago.