Title holders target third straight final

29 Aug. 2019

Title holders target third straight final

Following their solid quarter-final win on Wednesday 28 August, back-to-back IHF Men’s Super Globe champions Barça will meet Saudi side Al Wehda in the semi-final stage on Thursday 29 August. The Catalan team will be aiming for their third consecutive final in the event, after claiming the title two years in a row. 

Prior to the Barça versus Al Wehda match, current Champions League title holders Vardar will play 2018/19 EHF Cup winners THW Kiel in the opening semi-final. 

Feature match: Al Wehda (KSA) vs Barça (ESP)
Dammam Sports Hall, 20:00 local time

Few teams can rival Barça’s record at the IHF Men’s Super Globe – both in terms of participations, of which they count six, and naturally with regard to trophies won, considering they are the record champions with a total of four. 

On the other hand, Al Wehda are playing their debut Super Globe, and are therefore contesting the semi-final for the first time. The local team can certainly count on strong support from the home crowd, who have created a great atmosphere so far on court in Dammam Sports Hall. But can it possibly be enough to overthrow Barça?

The Catalan team, who hold the record for most titles won in every single competition they participate in – the Champions League, the ASOBAL league, the Copa del Rey, the Copa ASOBAL and the ASOBAL Supercup – have one of the strongest handball legacies in the world. Their tradition is to win, and they do not take the 2019 IHF Men’s Super Globe lightly. Barça are in Saudi Arabia to do no less than defend the title, so Al Wehda must be prepared for what will be a very tough 60 minutes. 

Barça reached the semi-final thanks to a commanding win over Al Duhail. Despite the 12-goal gap at the final whistle, Barça did not play at the top of their form and are certainly capable of more. 

Al Wehda won their quarter-final versus Brazilian team Taubate by four goals, 30:26. It was a solid victory and, like Barça, they count on a number of national team players – but the Catalan side’s roster is tough to beat on paper, and doing so will undoubtedly require a heroic effort from Al Wehda. 

All-European clash in first semi-final

The opening semi-final, beginning at 17:20 local time in Dammam, will see what promises to be an exciting battle between last season’s winners in the two biggest European cup competitions. Vardar are the current Champions League title holders, while Kiel claimed the EHF Cup at the end of the 2018/19 season. 

Though Kiel played the second-tier EHF Cup, their strength should not be underestimated – it was the German team’s first season outside the Champions League since 2003/04, and they are still considered a true powerhouse in Europe. This year, Kiel will return to the Champions League, where they will meet Vardar in the same playing group in the first phase. It is therefore the first important clash between the two sides of the 2019/20 season – and this one is a direct contest for the right to play for a trophy. 

An advantage for Vardar will be the fact that they have played only one match so far in Saudi Arabia, as they started their campaign in the quarter-final stage. THW Kiel began in the quarter-final qualification on Tuesday, making the semi-final their third straight game. Vardar beat Saudi team Al Mudhar in the quarter-final, while Kiel defeated Sydney Uni in the qualification game then Zamalek in the quarter-final. 

5-10 placement round begins with familiar rivalry

The third day of matches at the 2019 IHF Men’s Super Globe will open with two 5-10 placement round games. First up, at 12:15 local time, Sydney Uni will play Taubate in a now familiar clash. The teams have met at the Super Globe no less than four times, with the Brazilian team always coming out on top. 

At 14:30 local time, New York City will meet Al Duhail in the second placement round match. Both teams are on debut at the Super Globe.