Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) 8-14
The two sides had met in the prelims in the previous two years and all four games were absolutely one-sided contests. The results speak for themselves: 7-20 and 4-18 in the last season, 5-17 and 6-14 at the 2021-22 ‘bubble’ tournaments. In wake of those, it was stunning how Dinamo kicked off the season-opener. The Georgians were flying high and took a 4-2 lead in the first eight minutes. They put away two fine man-ups, a goal from the centre and from a fine action created some noise at the stands, while the favourite Spaniards clearly struggled at both ends of the pool.
The first break was enough for Elvis Fatovic to regroup his players and Barceloneta arrived the game for the second period. And they did in a spectacular mode, netting four goals in three minutes to put the game on its desired path. Two man-ups, two action goals did the damage and not even an ‘emergency time-out’ helped the home side. Roger Tahull’s extraman goal extended the Spanish run to 0-5. Though the hosts pulled one back for 5-7, but Felipe Perrone managed to beat Dinamo’s young Hungarian goalie Brendon Gyapjas once more from the perimeter, so Barceloneta turned the game and led 6-8 by halftime.
And the trend did not change in the second half. Dinamo’s defence couldn’t withstand the pressure and the outside shots, mostly the one-timers, further expanded the gap as the Spanish defence now worked well. While Dinamo could score four goals in the first eight minutes, they could add four more in the remaining of the game, even more telling that after 4-2 partial result in the first, the following three produced a 4-12 run by Barceloneta and the expected outcome.
How they saw it
Dejan Stojanovic, coach, Dinamo
“We played against one of the best teams and the difference in quality was obvious. This was our first game, some of our players didn’t play for four-five months, while Barceloneta came here after already playing like 20 games, more than some of our players have in a whole season. We also have seven-eight players for whom this was the first time to play in the Champions League. So putting all these together we may say that we can be satisfied with some sequences of the match. As a coach, I should say we need to erase the mistakes we made in the following matches to play better. We also played hard against their pressing game in the second and third period, and their pressing is among the two-three best in the world so that was a huge challenge. All in all, I’m satisfied with the performance of my team, as of now this is our maximum.”
Elvis Fatovic, coach, Barceloneta
“The first quarter was a disaster from our side, in defence we didn’t exist. But from the second period we consolidated our defence and started to show that we are the better team. But we cannot start game like that because we can be punished by any stronger teams. At the same time, I have to congratulate to Dinamo, they also started really well, used our mistakes despite having less experience at this level. It’s always difficult to play the first game of the season in the Champions League, so the most important is that we won.”