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Champions League, Main Round, Day 10 – Preview & Commentaries

Dubrovnik, Moscow: the games to watch

Four sides stand on places 2-5th in Group A, only two points separate the second from the fifth and teams in this cruel hunt will face each other in the coming round. Only three will go through – leader Olympiacos seems to be getting out of reach – so enormous battles are in sight in Dubrovnik and Moscow. In Group B the favourites are to move further away from the lower ranked ones, here a bit calmer finish is forecasted, though the race for the final ranks will be exciting.

Jump right to the comments from players and coaches for the upcoming games!

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Group A

In Group A one of the two key games is the clash of Dynamo (RUS) and Barceloneta (ESP) – collecting the three points would place the winner to a perfect position in the race for the Final Eight. Both sides enjoy an unbeaten run in the last five games though Dynamo seems to be specialised for draws, four of the Russians’ last five encounters ended in a tie. The first in the line was a 7-7 thriller in Barceloneta – another draw is very much in the cards though it might not satisfy either side with just four rounds to go.

The other big match features Jug (CRO) and Brescia (ITA). The Italians upset last season’s runner-up in their first meeting and since that big win they’ve produced a fine unbeaten run. However, the race is just heating up, and despite all the pains Jug has had this season, the Croats is still a formidable side whenever playing at home: in the Champions League they lost a single game in the last four years (last season to Recco).

The other two matches promise less tension, Olympiacos (GRE) should not have any problems against OSC (HUN) as the Hungarians virtually lost their chances to qualify for the F8 just as Hannover (GER) which visits Partizan (SRB). It seems this is one of the last opportunities for the young Serbs to earn at least a point in the current season.

Group B

In Group B, the clash of Eger (HUN) and Spandau (GER) is the match to watch. The Germans’ stunned everyone with a couple of 10-9 wins over the two Hungarian sides – now it’s revenge time for Eger though it won’t be an easy ride. However, thanks to the six points they earned against Szolnok, Eger seems to have reached safe waters, though another victory would almost secure them their fifth straight appearance in the finals.

Szolnok (HUN) faces probably its easiest home game against bottom-ranked Alphen (NED). After a stressful period, the title-holder seems to be on the rise, mirrored by a huge 7-goal win over Eger in the home league.

Recco (ITA) can march on towards clinching the top spot which is bad news for Jadran (MNE). The young Montenegrins face another loss so they would need to bridge a five-point gap in the last four rounds which seems to be a kind of mission impossible.

Newcomers Steaua (ROU) and Sabadell have no realistic chance left to catch up the top four – still, their game can be quite entertaining just like the one they had in Spain where the Romanians won 11-10.

Champions League, Day 10

Group A

17.30 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)

18.30 Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v AN Brescia (ITA)

18.30 Partizan Belgrade (SRB) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

19.15 Dynamo Moscow (RUS) v Atletic Barceloneta (ESP)

Group B

18.30 Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v AZC Alphen (NED)

18.30 ZF Eger (HUN) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

18.30 Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP)

20.30 Pro Recco (ITA) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)

 

Insights and Commentaries for the 9th leg of the 2017/2018 Champions League

Group A

17.30 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)

17.30

Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)

Last 5 CHL matches (Win, Draw, Loss)

Olympiacos: WWWLW

OSC: LLLDL

Last match

Olympiacos: Hannover 12-7 (away)

OSC: Jug 4-7 (home)

Face-to-face, Day 5:

OSC v Olympiacos 6-10

Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:

“We play in our home against OSC Budapest, which plays one of its last cards to claim a seat in the top four of the group. On the other hand, we want to win in order to make one step closer to qualification to the Final8, especially on the top of our group. We have to produce a dynamic way of playing which can put us in the driving position in tomorrow’s game. But if we want to achieve our targets, we need to show in each game that we know what we want and where we want to get to!”

Andro Buslje, player, Olympiacos:

“As time passes and we are heading towards the end, the games will become more and more difficult. We want to stay focused on our goal, which is to win all the games in our home and to finish atop in the group, in Final 8. This is what we will try to do against OSC Budapest. We have confidence in our strengths, and together with our fans, who is always the extra player for us, we will try to win this game and get closer to our goal.”

Laszlo Toth, head coach, OSC:

“Olympiacos is one of the best water polo teams in the world that is why really hard to win in Athens! Because nothing is pushing us and we have nothing to lose in our current situation, with little luck we might show our best side.”

18.30 Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v AN Brescia (ITA)

18.30

Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v AN Brescia (ITA)

Last 5 CHL matches

Jug: LWLWW

Brescia: WDWWD

Last match

Jug: OSC 7-4 (away)

Brescia: Dynamo 9-9 (home)

Face-to-face, Day 5:

Brescia v Jug 9-8

Vjekoslav Kobescak, head coach:

“In the last few weeks we are playing better and better and I hope we will continue the same way on Wednesday. Like all games this season, this one will be tough and we need to avoid repeating our mistakes from the first game against Brescia. Anyway, the battle for the F8 spots will be open till the end.”

Marko Bijac, goalkeeper, Jug:

“The key of the match is the defence. We need to improve the way we enter the matches which was our weakness this season. We prepared very well and I hope we’ll give 100% of our abilities to get three valuable points.”

Alessandro Bovo, head coach, Brescia:

“For every water polo team it is a very hard task to play in Dubrovnik. Gruz is one of the most glamorous pools in the world and gaining points there is really hard. Even if the Croatians are not at the same level as they were last year, they remain a very strong team with a very good coach. We’re a little bit in emergency because of a few injuries, so we’ll must exploit in the game.”

 

18.30 Partizan Belgrade (SRB) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

18.30

Partizan Belgrade (SRB) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

Last 5 CHL matches

Partizan: LLLLL

Hannover: WLLLL

Last match

Partizan: Barceloneta 5-16 (away)

Hannover: Olympiacos 7-12 (home)

Face-to-face, Day 5:

Hannover v Partizan 16-6

Stefan Ciric, head coach, Partizan:

‘The only win in the 2017 edition of Champions League Partizan achieved was against Hannover. But both teams were changed last summer. Hannover is stronger than the previous season, while Partizan rejuvenated the squad. Despite we are out of the race for the F8 we will give the best of us in each encounter. I hope we will be able to have a equal battle with the German team, which is much more experienced than us.”

Karsten Seehafer, head coach, Hannover:

“It is not easy to play in this arena. We have to play highly focused in the whole game. If we achieve this, it will be possible to win and gain all three points.”

Alexander Radovic, player, Hannover:

“We should aim to get three points in Belgrade. We are the better team, but we need to prove that in the pool. It will be a different game than in Hannover, as they came right after winning the Serbian Cup and they were tired. Also it is always a tough job to play in Belgrade.”

Darko Brguljan, player, Hannover:

“We won the first game so we need to go to win in Belgrad. We cannot expect an easy game like in Hanover. We know this, and every player will give 100% to win this match.”

19.15 Dynamo Moscow (RUS) v Atletic Barceloneta (ESP)

19.15

Dynamo Moscow (RUS) v Atletic Barceloneta (ESP)

Last 5 CHL matches

Dynamo: DDWDD

Barceloneta: DWWWW

Last match

Dynamo: Brescia 9-9 (away)

Barceloneta: Partizan 16-5 (home)

Face-to-face, Day 5:

Barceloneta v Dynamo 7-7

Marat Zakirov, head coach, Dynamo:

“Barceloneta is one of the best teams in our group, a former winner of the Champions League. There are a lot of great players in CNA who show good command in ever game. For us it will be an interesting match.”

Gavril Subotic, player, Dynamo:

“This match against Barceloneta is very important for us. The Spanish team is very strong. They play water polo on a really high level and it will be very hard game for us. But I think that we have the quality to win against any team in the Champions League and also we will play at our pool in Moscow. Last weekend we won two hard games against Sintez Kazan and that is very important for us as a team. There is a very good atmosphere in the team and we are in really good shape before this match. I believe in my team and in my team-mates that we can win this match.”

Chus Martin, head coach, Barceloneta:

“We will have a very difficult game in Moscow against a great rival who has already earned a draw in our pool. There are five rounds left and now every game is a final for us. Our goal is to add a victory that brings us closer to the Final Eight.”

 

Group B

18.30 Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v AZC Alphen (NED)

18.30

Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v AZC Alphen (NED)

Last 5 CHL matches

Szolnok: WWLLW

Alphen: LLLLL

Last match

Szolnok: Jadran 13-10 (home)

Alphen: Eger 4-14 (home)

Face-to-face, Day 5:

Alphen v Szolnok 6-17

Sandor Cseh, head coach, Szolnok:

“Without a doubt, the team of Netherlands represents a bit weaker side compared to the other members of the group. Still, there are several foreign players in their team and they are not playing bad water polo. Usually they play well all the way through the first two quarters in great condition, then they start tiring, probably we will wear them out as well. I am expecting a definite victory.”

Viktor Nagy, goalkeeper, Szolnok:

“Luckily we are in good shape as the past games have proved this. Probably this match will serve our preparations well for the tasks we face in the upcoming weeks, among which we will have matches both at club and national team level. I am expecting a practice game with lots of goals and a massive victory.”

Nemanja Stevanovic, head coach, Alphen:

“We won the Dutch Cup last weekend, that gave a huge boost to the whole team and our club. We will bring this positive spirit to Szolnok to give our best. The team is looking forward to a good match against one of the top clubs of the world.”

Tim van Gulik, captain, Alphen:

“With the first prize of the season in our hands we look forward to play against Szolnok. Although we miss two players, it will be a great battle again. We have used our experience from the Champions League in the Cup final, that helps especially our young players a lot, that’s absolute one of the biggest win in this Champions League season.”

18.30 ZF Eger (HUN) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

18.30

ZF Eger (HUN) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

Last 5 CHL matches

Eger: LWWWW

Spandau: WWLLW

Last match

Eger: Alphen 14-4 (away)

Spandau: Steaua 11-9 (home)

Face-to-face, Day 5:

Spandau v Eger 10-9

Norbert Dabrowski, head coach ZF-Eger:

“Our goal is to play in the Final Eight, so this match is very important for us. Berlin had a lot of good games in this season, so I think it will a hard game, with our victory at the end of course.”

Balazs Harai, player, ZF-Eger:

“We lost in Berlin, but now we would like to beat them in Eger. These points are very important for the Final Eight. We have to win on Wednesday.”

Adam Decker, player ZF-Eger:

“The main message from my side, that we need the victory. We have to compensate our fans because of the defeat against Spandau in Berlin and against Szolnok last weekend. We have to leave behind these matches, and continue our way to realise our goals.”

 Peter Kovacevic, Team Manager, Spandau:

“It will be incomprehensibly difficult to perform in Eger. Eger has just shown his strength by beating Szolnok twice. We still miss two players due to injuries, which makes our task even more complicated. However, we still focus on the final eight and therefore we will fight hard to perform as good as possible. We have shown that we are not too far away from the top teams. Therefore we will try to resist the pressure.”

 Laszlo Baksa, goalkeeper, Spandau:

“For Mihaly (Peterfy) and me it is always very special to play in Hungary. It does give us some extra motivation, being at home. We do know that Eger is the favourite. But who knows, maybe we’ll have a very special day, everything fits and we are able to go for a surprise.”

18.30 Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP)

18.30

Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP)

Last 5 CHL matches

Steaua: WLWWW

Sabadell: LLLWL

Last match

Steaua: Spandau 9-11 (away)

Sabadell: Recco 9-18 (home)

Face-to-face, Day 5:

Sabadell v Steaua 10-11

 

Iosep Andrei, head coach, Steaua:

“I hope we will play much better in defence that in the last game with them, when we conceded 10 goals. Sabadell is a fast team with good shooters from outside positions but also have some weak parts, and we have to take advantage of those. After the last two games which were both decided in the last seconds, 10-10 and 11-10, I think we can expect another spectacular game, this time in our pool.”

Adria Delgado, player, Steaua:

“It will be a very close game like it was in Sabadell. They came with confidence here after winning surprisingly in the pool of Jadran Herceg Novi and made a very good game against Pro Recco being very close to them during almost all the game. We still hope that at the end the three points will remain in Bucharest.”

Chava Gomez, head coach, Sabadell:

“Wednesday’s game against Steaua is a game that we approach with all the illusion of the world as it is a rival which, although they won in the first leg, we consider being on a level similar to ours. We know that the qualification for the final eight is not our objective but the team is always ready to gain more and more experience in this competition.”

Jordi Mardones, player, Sabadell:

“After the last game at home against Pro Recco this time we will play with a team that won in our home in the last second but we saw that we could beat them. That is why we are going to Bucharest with the maximum enthusiasm and with desire to return with the three points.”

20.30 Pro Recco (ITA) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)

20.30

Pro Recco (ITA) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)

Last 5 CHL matches

Recco: WWWWW

Jadran: LLWLL

Last match

Recco: Sabadell 18-9 (away)

Jadran: Szolnok 10-13 (away)

Face-to-face, Day 5:

Jadran v Recco 5-15

Matteo Aicardi, player, Pro Recco:

“We had a very busy period with important matches and we would have had to recharge the batteries a bit, but the calendar does not allow it: playing with the weariness on us will be useful. We are pleased to return to Sciorba and test the pool before the Final Eight. Tomorrow we expect a large audience as in previous games played in Genoa.”

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