Seven years and ten days had to pass for the Barça play a game again today in a Euroleague Final Four. Gone is a long journey through the desert, the worst time for a team that went from being used to winning to living almost forever away from the great titles. Gone are a good number of failed projects, the cheat ‘nou model’ and a rosary of signings that never came to perform as expected no matter how much different coaches were passing (Georgios bartzokas, Sito Alonso, Svetislav Pesic) by the bench. Barça, however, no longer look back but forward, excited about the possibility of being installed again among the greats of Europe. The first step was to finish leader of the regular phase of the Euroleague, the second, to overcome the Zenith in a demanding quarter-final playoff and the third must be given today. Nobody at Barça wants to look beyond tonight’s semifinal duel (9:00 p.m.) against him Armani milan, another historic reached the Final Four in Cologne with the intention of greening laurels.
The Barça bet heavily on a new project in summer 2019, with very important signings (Mirotic, Higgins, Davies, Abrines) that triggered the team’s competitiveness but did not lead to the titles in that first season. A key piece was missing and that came a year later with the long-awaited return of Sarunas Jasikevicius, this time to lead from the bench. The charisma and technical teaching of the Lithuanian have managed to multiply the power of a group with plenty of talent but which now also works as a whole, with the collective always ahead of individualities. The results are there: title of the Copa del Rey, first place in the regular phase of the Euroleague and returned to the Final Four after seven years of absence. Of course, the path is still incomplete.
The great challenge of Saras and his boys starts today in Cologne. The Barça He arrives prepared, with all his players in good physical condition and the suitcases loaded with enthusiasm. Only two victories separate the Barça team from their third Euroleague after those of 2003 and 2010, but the look does not go that far at the moment. As it has done throughout the season, Barça only thinks about the next game, there is nothing other than the semifinal duel against him Armani.
The Italian team returns after a much longer drought (29 years without a Final Four), with another great coach at the helm (Ettore Messina) and a lot of talent and experience in their ranks. If at Barça alone Higgins knows what it is to win the Euroleague, in the Armani can boast of it their own Messina, Sergio Rodríguez, Kyle Hines and Luigi Datome.
Barça, however, is not afraid. He already won the Armani in the two matches of regular phase (87-71 at the Palau and 56-72 in Milan) and has the best defense in the Euroleague and a much more physical team than the Italian. Taking advantage of these virtues will be key to reaching the final on Sunday and being one step away from dreaming.