Difficult game for Partizan at FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona will host Partizan Belgrade tomorrow evening at the Palau Blaugrana, in a game that counts for Round 29 of the current EuroLeague season.

While Partizan entered the season with high hopes of reaching the Final Four after last season they just fell short in the quarterfinals, Barcelona seemed to be entering into a rebuilding phase after the end of the Jasikevicius era and the hiring of a rookie coach in Roger Grimau.

After six months, the situation compared to the initial expectations is different. Except about two weeks in December when they lost three out of four games, Barca has been very solid all season long and they are still hanging on to the second position in the standings with a 19-9 record. However, they are dangerously close to dropping a few positions and they don’t have an easy schedule coming up, as next week they travel to Istanbul to face Fenerbahce and two days later they play in Athens against Panathinaikos. The return of Ricky Rubio gave a huge boost of excitement to the Barca fans and the Blaugrana team already had a very good backcourt with Tomas Satoransky, Rokas Jokubaitis, Nicolas Laprovittola and Dario Brizuela. At this point, there is no reason for Barca supporters not to believe in their team and Roger Grimau could achieve a huge success in his first year coaching a senior team.

Partizan on the other hand is in a worse position than most people expected them to be at this point of the season. The departure of Matthias Lessort to Panathinaikos proved to be huge and Zeljko Obradovic and his team struggled to be consistent in results as they are currently only 11th, tied with Valencia for the last play-in position with a 13-15 record. The Serbian team lost four of the last five games in the EuroLeague and most of these defeats were by just one or two possessions (they lost by 2 in Milan, by 1 point against Bayern and by 4 in Bologna). This stretch of defeats could prove to be crucial at the end of the regular season, but Partizan will have three consecutive home games after the one in Barcelona so the hopes of the Serbian fans are still alive.

All in all tomorrow’s game is huge for both teams as their positions in the standings can change drastically in the last six rounds. Barcelona seems to be the favourite if we look at the latest results and it’s hard to win in the Palau Blaugrana for the visiting teams, where Barca lost only twice this EuroLeague season.

Statistically, Partizan are a slightly better offensive team than Barca, scoring one point more on average, however, the Catalans are way better in defense where they receive over five points less per game.

Imre Halasz

Photo credit: EuroLeague