Barça Intersport champions of the Liga Asobal

The Palau Blaugrana hosted a massive party this Saturday, the celebration of the 19th Liga Asobal title won by Barça Intersport (the team’s second consecutive Liga title). Xavi Pascual’s men beat BM Torrevieja in the last match of the competition and thus sealed the title crown after a season-long duel with BM Atlético Madrid. This is the first time Barça have won back-to-back titles since the Dream Team’s historic run of five consecutive Liga crowns (1996-2000).

Players, managers and Barça fans intensely celebrated the new title as the confetti rained down from the ceiling. This Saturday the fans were completely behind the team from the first minute of the game. They wanted to party at the Palau, the venue that has hosted so many epic athletic feats in the past. BM Torrevieja, who had many absences and had nothing at stake, were Barça's scapegoat after such a hard-fought season.

Frightening start

The match started with two goals from Rutenka, but Manolo Laguna’s men put up a fight from the 10th minute when the scoreline was 5-7 in their favour. Pascual called for a timeout in an attempt to break the negative dynamic on the court. “The entire season rests on this game,” said the manager on multiple occasions this week. Barça Intersport had not played a competitive match in 15 days and Pascual didn’t want his team to lose focus. The Azulgranas managed to level with BM Torrevieja on various occasions (8-8, 9-9 and 10-10), but they couldn’t nick the lead until the 21st minute.

Azulgrana reaction

The tying goal was a turning point for the team. The Alicante side, playing with a 6-0 solid defence, didn’t give up, however. But Barça’s effectiveness grew as time went on and, little by little, the team found its best form. A goal from Igropulo allowed the Azulgranas to go to the break with a three goal lead (18-15).

At the start of the second half, Barça Intersport increased their lead to 25 to 19 on 20 minutes and 31 to 22 on 50 minutes. The second half was much more open than the first, with fast transitions on both sides of the court. Saric was putting in a splendid performance in goal and Rutenka and Igropulo were Barça’s engine on defence and offence. Pascual gave minutes to all of his players and in the dying minutes of the game the crowd knew the title was staying in Barcelona. The team reaped the reward of a hard-fought season this Saturday and the players were ecstatic that they could celebrate it with the fans. Some of the players won’t be with the team next season but the party at the Palau will never be forgotten. This is the first time in 16 years that Barça were able to celebrate a Liga victory at the Palau.

The trophy

The president of the Spanish Handball Federation, Juan de Dios Román, awarded the Liga trophy to Laszlo Nagy, Barça’s captain, as FC Barcelona President, Sandro Rosell, and the team’s director, Eduard Coll, looked on.

Match stats

FC Barcelona Intersport, 38
BM Torrevella, 28

FC Barcelona Intersport (18+20): Saric (Corrales, m.55), Victor Tomás (3), Nagy (3), Noddesbo (3), Sarmiento (4), Rutenka (10, 2p.), Juanín (3) -starting team- Jermenyr (-), Morros (1), Sorhaindo (2), Igropoulo (6), Raúl Entrerríos (2) and Ugalde (1).

BM Torrevella (15+13): Román, Cuartero (1), Eloy González (3), Rasic (1), Castro (4), Chernov (5), Jorge Sánchez (4) -starting team- Rochel (2), Salinas (3), López (2, 1p.), Cabrera (-) and Quesada (3).

Referees: García Mosquera and Ríos Martín.

Score at five-minute intervals: 3-3, 5-7, 8-8, 10-10, 14-12, 18-15 (ht). 21-16, 25-19, 28-22, 31-22, 34-25 and 38-28 (final).