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Barcelona move into quarters and Vardar secure third

FC Barcelona Lassa - Rhein-Neckar Lowen 26:20 (11:10)

It was a make-or-break tie for the German powerhouse, who started the weekend in third place. But after losing against the current titleholders, the Lions could fall to fifth place, if MOL-Pick Szeged win against Kielce on Sunday. In need of at least a draw to ensure a quarter-final berth, Barcelona enjoyed a bright start of the game, with a flawless defense that prevented Löwen to score in the first five minutes.

However, the game was as balanced as expected in the first half, with a defence-first mindset for both teams. But Barcelona kept pushing in attack, being the more decisive team, as the Spanish side looked set to win their 11th game in the group, cruising to a 9:5 lead at the middle of the first half. A crucial 10-minute period between the 17th and the 27th minute saw the game turn on its head. A flurry of missed passes and turnovers saw Barcelona lose their lead, trailing 10:9. There was no room for panic for the hosts, Barcelona's experience kept the team cool and consistent. However, consistency was Löwen's problem all night. Therefore, it was no surprise that the German side lost their edge in attack. With Barcelona's defense pressing harder and harder, Löwen's mistakes proved costly and the German team was never in a position to mount a comeback. A 10:2 run for Barcelona, sparked by Kiril Lazarov and Raul Entrerrios, between the 27th and the 43rd minute saw the title holders seal the deal, taking a 19:12 lead. It was a wake-up call for Löwen, but it proved to be too little, too late for the Bundesliga's leaders. As the guests went all-out in attack, Barcelona's 9-meter line continued to take advantage of Löwen's precarious defence, with Jallouz and Lazarov trading blows for their counterparts. Therefore, after their 26:20 win, Barcelona top Group B, with 23 points after 14 games, becoming the first quarter-finalist of this year's VELUX EHF Champions League.