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Barcelona and Real Madrid seek the throne of European basketball

Barcelona and Real Madrid, who meet on Thursday (7:00 p.m. GMT) in the semifinals of the Euroleague basketball, face the Final 4 in Belgrade with the mission of being the new occupants of the continental throne.

Will it finally be Barça’s year? The Barça team, twice winner of the tournament (2003, 2010), failed in its objective a year ago, when it was defeated in the final by the Turkish Efes Istanbul.

Barça’s squad has hardly changed since that final lost by just five points and the Catalan team arrives with the favorite poster for this ‘Final Four’ in the Serbian capital, endorsed by Nikola Mirotic, designated Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Euroleague season.

“Most of the players are still here (compared to the final of the last Euroleague). I think that always helps, but it is not a guarantee,” Barça coach Sarunas Jasikevicius explained to the competition website.

“It is difficult to be in the heads of the players and understand what they feel, but we have spent one more season together. That means more time to go through different situations as a team and I hope that helps us,” added the 46-year-old Lithuanian coach. .

In the semifinals, the Spanish Clasico is served, as Barça is awaited by a Real Madrid that faltered at the close of the Euroleague regular season (eight defeats in the last ten games), but that reacted at the right time, in the quarterfinals in the final, eliminating Maccabi Tel Aviv by three wins to nil.

This season, Barcelona has clearly won the pulse of Real Madrid so far: five victories between the league, Cup and Euroleague, including an exhibition by Mirotic in the regular season of the Euroleague (31 points, 10 rebounds) in December, while that the ‘merengue’ team only beat their eternal rival once this year, in the Super Cup.

– Efes-Olympiakos, the other semifinal –

Between two teams that know each other by heart “there is room for surprises”, says Jasikevicius, who expects a “difficult” match on Thursday.

Real Madrid is the team that leads the Euroleague record, with ten, and the last time it was crowned was in 2018, precisely in a Final 4 held in Belgrade.

In the other semi-final, defending champions Efes Istanbul will try to qualify for a third straight EuroLeague final. Their rival on Thursday (4:00 p.m. GMT) will be Olympiakos, for an exciting Greek-Turkish neighborhood duel.

In 2019, Efes lost the final of the European tournament against CSKA Moscow and in 2021 the Turks beat Barcelona. In 2020 there was no champion, since the tournament was canceled before concluding due to the covid-19 pandemic.

For the first time since 2011 and for the third time in the 21st century (after 2022 and 2011), no Russian club is present in the Final 4 of the tournament. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, CSKA Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kazan were excluded from the EuroLeague.

— Euroleague Final 4 Schedule

– Thursday (semi-finals):

(4:00 PM GMT) Olympiakos (GRE) – Ephesus Istanbul (TUR)

(19h00 GMT) FC Barcelona (ESP) – Real Madrid (ESP)

– Saturday:

(14h00 GMT) Match for third place

(17h00 GMT) Final

Tba / dr / dam

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