Barça Intersport notched up its fourth victory in the Champions League this afternoon in Zagreb and thereby consolidating its position at the top of Group D. Croatia Osiguranje join Kadetten, Füchse Berlin and DinamoMinsk on the list of teams that have lost to the Blaugrana machine in the European competition.
The Zagreb Arena, a modern stadium that can hold up to 15,000 fans, was witness to a match that pitted a completely rejuvenated Croatia Osiguranje against an unstoppable Barça Intersport. The men managed by SlavkoGoluza started off strong, with three goals from Zlatko Horvat. Xavi Pascual’s men needed to react. The Blaugrana slowly clawed their way back into the game by poking and prodding the Croatian 5-1 defence. A goal from Rutenka from the 7-metre line brought the two teams level at 5 after 12 minutes.
Comeback before the break
Barça Intersport’s defence made it difficult for the Croatians, but the Blaugrana had yet to figure out how to get past Filip Ivic on the other end of the court. Croatia Osiguranje jumped to a dangerous 9 to 5 lead halfway through the first half, forcing Pascual to call timeout. The Barça manager instructed his men to play without fear and to utilise the men on the wings. With Rocas and Juanín on the wings; Montoro covering the flank, and Entrerríos and Rutenka in middle of the attack, Barça battled back to take the lead right before the break (12-13).
Physical second half
Croatia Osiguranje wasn’t going to go down without a fight, but the Croatians could to little against Barça Intersport’s deep and talented bench. It’s not easy to keep up with Barça Inersport’s intense and fast-paced style of play for 70 minutes, and the difference between the two sides started to show on the scoreboard. Sterbik locked up Barça’s goal and everything was falling into place for the Blaugrana on the other end of the court.
Pascual didn’t allow his men to let up and the his team roared to a 21-32 victory in Zagreb. Barça’s handball team have played eight times in the Croatian capital, winning seven and drawing once. Barça Intersport’s next rival in the Champions League will be against the Hungarian team Pick Szeged.