Barceloneta returned to the finals in 2018 as in 2017 they missed the cut for the first time after four consecutive appearances. In 2014 Barceloneta captured the trophy, this was the Spaniards’ first European title. Previously, they reached the last stage in 2013 for the first time and finished 3rd in the F4 held in Belgrade. In 2015 and in 2018 they came third too, while in 2016 they finished 5th.
BPM has qualified to the Final Eight right on its first try. The team from Busto Arsizio (relocated from Verona) was newcomer in this season, their players battled themselves through to the F8 right from the first round of the qualifications.
BPM left its mark already in 2018 by reaching the final of the Euro Cup which they lost to Ferencvaros.
Barceloneta’s strength lies in their consistency: this year’s team is identical with the one played the past season, no big name left, no one arrived.
Barceloneta is almost equal with the Spanish national team: nine players were part of Spain’s unbeaten run at the 2018 European Championships when they ended up with the silver medal after losing only in the penalty shootout to Serbia.
BPM saw some changes compared to the team having played in the 2018 Euro Cup finals. While a couple of veteran greats like Pietro Figlioli, Valentino Gallo and Antonio Petkovic left, arrived Luca Damonte and Jacopo Alesiani (selected for the wider national team squad).
BPM’s head coach Marco Baldineti already knows what it takes to win the cup as he coached Recco to Champions League triumph in 2003.
From the current line-up Montenegrin goalie Dejan Lazovic and Andrea Fondelli played at the European Championships.
In home waters Barceloneta is the ruler in Spain, they have won the national title for the 14th consecutive occasion. Altogether they were champions 19 times (first in 1970).
BPM, founded in 1987, promoted to the top division in Italy in 2014 for the first time. Their best effort so far is the 3rd place (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019).
Barceloneta had some ups and downs in the prelims before clinching the second place in Group A. They kicked off their campaign with 4 wins in a row including two tight ones in Budapest and Moscow, then they lost to Recco and drew with Brescia at home. They beat Steaua home and away but two more defeats followed in Italy. Then they finished the prelims as they started, with four more wins.
Barceloneta’s 10-1-3 (31 points) line and the 2nd place is their best so far in the current system. Last year they finished 3rd (8-3-3), while previously, in the 10-round era they came 4th in 2017 (4-2-4), 3rd in 2016 (4-2-4), 4th in 2015 (3-2-5) and 3rd in 2014 (5-1-4).
BPM showed clear signs of their intentions when they started the prelims by beating title-holder Olympiacos and 2017 champion Szolnok in the first two rounds. After a tight win in Hannover, they had some tough times in Croatia, fell in Dubrovnik, drew with Mladost in Zagreb and later was beaten in Split on Day 8. But gaining three points at home against Spandau and Jadran kept them alive. From Day 9 they had a 4-game unbeaten run which included home wins against Mladost and Waspo and two draws against Jug and in Szolnok – the latter one secured their qualification. On the closing day they lost to Olympiacos to close the prelims with 8-3-3 (their home performance was decisive, 7 games, 6 wins, 1 tie).
Barceloneta’s 154 goals is the second best offensive effort in the field, only Recco scored more.
BPM’s 10+ goal difference is the second most modest among the teams making the finals (125-115). Only three teams (Steaua, Zvezda, Spandau) scored fewer goals in the prelims.
As for the goals conceded, Barceloneta got 120, second highest among the finalist (Hannover had 169), while BPM got 115, the 5th best in the season.
Scorers for the teams – Barceloneta
Alberto Munarriz 29
Felipe Perrone 20
Blai Mallarach 19
Roger Tahull 16
Alvaro Granados 16
Martin Famera 16
Josip Vrlic 13
Francisco Fernandez 10
Marc Larumbe 7
Alejandro Bustos 6
Sergio Prieto 2
Scorers for BPM
Stefano Luongo 26
Luca Damonte 17
Radomir Drasovic 16
Edoardo Di Somma 12
Cristiano Mirarchi 11
Andrea Fondelli 9
Jacopo Alesiani 9
Vincenzo Dolce 9
Giuseppe Valentino 8
Lorenzo Bruni 6
Giacomo Casasola 2