High-flying Barcelona Dragons looking to upset rugged Hamburg Sea Devils

The Barcelona Dragons long ago proved that they wouldn’t be the ELF’s doormat. The league’s only Spanish franchise was perhaps the most fun to watch down the stretch in 2021 and opened the 2022 season last week with a resounding 38-9 victory over the Stuttgart Surge.

There is a big difference between being a competitor and a contender however and the Dragons will have a chance to prove they’ve taken the next step when they travel to Germany to take on the Hamburg Sea Devils. Last year’s ELF runners-up steamrolled the Berlin Thunder by a score of 48-13 in their season-opener and continue to look like one of the league’s premier franchises.

The challenge for the Spaniards will be a familiar one, as they will have to deal with the physicality and size of the Hamburg run game. The Sea Devils amassed 248 rushing yards and four touchdowns in Week 1, including a 110-yard, two-score performance from British running back Glen Toonga. Hamburg has one of the ELF’s most dynamic aerial weapons in former Barcelona receiver Jean Constant, but with German youngster Salieu Ceesay at quarterback this system will be built on pounding the rock.

That style of play should prove to be a difficult matchup for a smaller Barcelona defense that is built around speed in the secondary with the likes of Niko Lester, Jordi Brugnani and Andy Vera. The front seven led by defensive linemen Alejandro Fernandez and Michael Sam, along with linebacker Antony Rodrigues, will need to step up to the plate.

Offensively, the Dragons look to be the opposite of Hamburg with playmaking import quarterback Zach Edwards. Filling the void left by the departure of the aforementioned Constant is former Washington State receiver Kyle Sweet, who had eight catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns in his debut, but native Spaniard Mario Flores and Frenchman Benjamin Plu both bring North American pro experience.

Looking to disrupt that aerial attack will be a fearsome pass rush led by Captain Germany, former NFL sack artist Kasim Edebali. The 32-year-old looked like a much younger man with a two-sack outing a week ago and will have plenty of help on the back end from Hamburg’s dynamic pair of import defensive backs, Justin Rogers and Daniel Brown Jr.

The Sea Devils can’t afford even an early season slip up while playing in an uber-talented Northern Conference, while the Dragons look to make themselves the favorites in a weaker South by pulling off the upset. No matter the result, it should make for entertaining football.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.