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Champions League, Main Round, Day 7 – Preview & Commentaries

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Restaging of the 2016 finals

Approaching the halfway mark in the prelims, teams reach a special phase: the next two rounds will see games played on a kind of home-and-away basis. Clubs meeting on Day 7 will face each other once again on Day 8 – in a couple of cases, double wins can influence the final ranks quite heavily.

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

For live scoring, stats and play-by-play action visit www.len.eu!

Group A

In Group A the top match will be staged in Piraeus where the 2016 final is to be replayed between Olympiacos (GRE) and Jug (CRO). Jug then stunned the Greeks who were undefeated in the entire season – and once more they are the only side with a clean sheet in the prelims today. Three Croatian players in the Greek team will add some special flavor to this contest where the hosts are the favorites. Three points or more from these two encounters would almost surely cement Olympiacos atop in the group for all way long.

Brescia (ITA) and Barceloneta (ESP) will go for gaining six points which would be a tremendous boost for these teams. Brescia posted a couple of big wins (including one over Jug) and is the absolute favorite against Partizan (SRB) which is yet to earn a point.

Barceloneta, the team of draws – they had three already, two in the last two rounds – clash with Hannover (GER). The Germans still have a slight chance in this balanced group but the Spaniards also need two wins to stay in the hunt for the Final Eight.

The encounters featuring OSC (HUN) and Dynamo (RUS) are the really crucial ones. The Hungarians’ losing streak now stands at four and this is their very last chance to keep up with the others. Dynamo is one of the pleasant surprises of the current season, the newcomer side sits in the second position but now faces another tough challenge. If the Russians’ balance remains positive after the next two rounds they would be in a great position before the exciting finish.

Group B

The in-house battle of the two Hungarian giants is the highlight in Group B. The game of title-holder Szolnok and standard Final Six participant Eger promises big thrills. Szolnok was superior in the previous season, in the current one they met once so far and Szolnok won 7-4 in the Hungarian Super Cup. A double loss for Eger would not mean the end of the world but would put them in quite a difficult position – at the same time, Szolnok is in a demanding race for the top position with Pro Recco so the title-holders couldn’t lay back against their domestic arch-rival.

Recco, in the meantime, is preparing for a showdown against the season’s sensation Spandau. The Germans won their last five games, including three single-goal victories (two against the two Hungarians) and that keeps them on a level with the big boys. Another upset against the record-winning Italian giant would almost surely send them to the Final Eight.

Jadran (MNE) is about to play the two most important matches. The young Montenegrin side enjoyed a great start but later learned tough lessons against Recco and Szolnok. Still, they can stay on track to fight for the top four spots but they need to bring back their earlier performances in order to be successful against Sabadell (ESP). On the other hand, Spaniards can even have a chance to come from behind in case they are able to collect six points.

Alphen (NED) is getting ready to earn the first point(s) in the League against fellow newcomer Steaua (ROU). The Romanians seem the better side, they were really close against Spandau ten days ago but lost in the dying seconds. Six points against the Dutch would also give them a slim hope.

 

Champions League, Day 7

Group A

17.00 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)

18.30 A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) v Partizan Belgrade (SRB)

(Thursday) 19.15 Barceloneta (ESP) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

Group B

(Tuesday) 19.00 Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)

18.30 Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v ZF-Eger (HUN)

19.30 Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Pro Recco (ITA)

20.30 AZC Alphen (NED) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)

 

Insights and Commentaries for the 7th leg of the 2017/2018 Champions League

Group A

17.00 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)

17.00

Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)

Last 5 CHL matches (Win, Draw, Loss)

Olympiacos: WWWWW

Jug: WWDLW

Last match

Olympiacos: 11-7 Hannover (home)

Jug: 12-10 OSC (home)

Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:

“Jug is one of the best teams in the competition, that gives us even greater motivation for victory! Not just for the three points what both teams need, but also the prestige against such big opponent! Jug is the team that has won everything in recent years, but we also want to continue the good performances in the Champions League. But above all, to show our dynamics and continue to the end with more demands!”

Josip Pavic, goalkeeper, Olympiacos:

“Jug has a very strong team this year! Of course, we contracted Obradovic from them, but they were also reinforced with Italian Renzuto and Rasovic from Serbia. Jug is an experienced team with a huge history of water polo. When you play against Jug, you can never say that you will win, not even think that you will win easily. They also have Bijac who has been awarded as the best European goalkeeper, Luka Loncar and two left-handed greats, Jokovic and Garcia, who was members of the World Champion Croatian team together with our Olympiacos teammate Buslje. Generally, it is a strong team, we have to pay close attention to every move they make. On the other hand, we do not forget that we play in our home, where in recent years we have lost just one game, against Szolnok. With our fans by our side, we will give all we have in order to achieve a great victory!”

Xavi Garcia, player, Jug:

“Olympiacos is the favorite in this game and in this group. They are the only team without defeat in the Champions League with too many good players. Half of the Greek national team play there, together with three fantastic Croatian players Pavic, Buslje, and Obradovic. But we are not going to Athens holding up the white flag, we will try to play our best game and will see what’s going to happen.”

Viktor Rasovic, player, Jug:

“Olympiacos has made big steps forward, every year they are playing better and better. This year they are strengthened with former Jug player Paulo Obradovic who scored some crucial goals in this competition. They play at home and they are great, favorites of this game, but one should never underestimate Jug.”

18.30 OSC Budapest (HUN) v Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

18.30

OSC Budapest (HUN) v Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

Last 5 CHL matches

OSC: WLLLL

Dynamo: LWWDD

Last match

OSC: 10-12 Jug (away)

Dynamo: 9-9 Brescia (home)

Attila Petik, head coach, OSC:

“Dynamo has been seriously strengthened in the summer and they proved they had big plans. However, we have not given up to get into the Final 8 so we are doing our best to keep the three points at home.”

Marton Toth, player, OSC:

“It will be a very important game for us. Only the three points are acceptable, so we have to win. Dynamo is a really strong team with good Serbian players and the top Russian players too so it will be a hard game.”

Marat Zakirov, head coach, Dynamo:

“We expect a hard and dogged match. These two teams are to fight to advance to the Final Eight. We will play against a very skilled rival with great players in all positions. We will do our best to have a good game.”

Victor Ivanov, goalkeeper, Dynamo:

“Our team expects a hard match. It will not be an easy game but this is Champions League and theree are no easy games. We have a positive mood, especially after we claimed the Cup of Russia, and we hope to get a positive result in this game as well.”

20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) v Partizan Belgrade (SRB)

20.30

AN Brescia (ITA) v Partizan Belgrade (SRB)

Last 5 CHL matches

Brescia: WLWWD

Partizan: LLLLL

Last match

Brescia: 9-9 Dynamo (away)

Partizan: 5-15 Barceloneta (home)

Alessandro Bovo, head coach, Brescia:

“Wednesday brings a very hard challenge. Partizan is rich with talented young players who really want to stand out: we have to pay with great attention. However, for us, three points are fundamental and we’ll do our best to play as we can and beat the Serbians.”

Stefan Ciric, head coach, Partizan:

„We didn’t play well against Barceloneta in the 6th round, ten days ago. So in Brescia, we must do everything we can to prove that our young team is far better than what it showed in the previous match. Of course, it will be hard to play against one of the best European teams, which took the 5th place in the Champions League last season. But we won’t surrender easily.“

(Thursday) 19.15 Barceloneta (ESP) v Waspo Hannover (GER)

19.15

Barceloneta (ESP) v Waspo Hannover (GER)

Last 5 CHL matches

Barceloneta: LWDDW

Hannover: LLLWL

Last match

Barceloneta: 15-5 Partizan (away)

Hannover: 7-11 Olympiacos (away)

Karsten Seehafer, head coach, Hannover:

“Next stop is Barceloneta. Away and not easy, but not a single game is easy. We do our best…”

Alexander Radovic, player, Hannover:

“Hard game like all in the Champions League, especially when we play away. Barceloneta is a great team and I would even highlight the role of Perrone, Munarriz, Vrlic, and Mallarach. They form a really fast team and we need to prevent the counter attacks and to try to be concentrated in defending.”

Darko Brguljan, player, Hannover:

“After Athens, this is the most difficult game for us, in a very difficult venue to play and win. We haven’t won a single game away from Hannover for 2 years, that makes this game even more difficult. To play another role in the Champions League we have to change this.”

 

 

Group B

(Tuesday) 19.00 Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)

18.30

 Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)

Last 5 CHL matches

Sabadell: LWLLL

Jadran: WDWLL

Last match

Sabadell: 4-13 Recco (away)

Jadran: 6-14 Szolnok (home)

Chava Gomez, head coach, Sabadell:

”After the last game against Pro Recco our young team has continued to grow not only on a sporting level but also mentally. Now we have another very difficult game at home against Jadran, which has a very good season but we have to continue with the good feelings we have from the last playing day.”

Borja Fenoy, player, Sabadell:

”The senses of the team on the recent day of the domestic league were very good. We know that every game is very complicated and nobody gives you anything for free. Still, in front of our fans, we have to play a good game and have the possibility to win until the end. It will be a very difficult match.”

Vladimir Gojkovic, head coach, Jadran:

“This game is very important for our team. It is very difficult to play with Spanish teams in their pools. In case of a positive result, we stay in the race for the Final Eight. We believe in ourselves to achieve a positive result.”

Vlado Popadic, player, Jadran:

“It is a very important game for us. We prepare ourselves for this game. We collected a lot of information about the team of Sabadell. If we play on our level and in case we manage to perform what we’ve prepared for we can get three points.”

18.30 Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v ZF-Eger (HUN)

18.30

Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v ZF-Eger (HUN)

Last 5 CHL matches

Szolnok: WLWWW

Eger: LDWLW

Last match

Szolnok: 14-6 Jadran (away)

Eger: 15-4 Alphen (home)

Sandor Cseh, head coach, Szolnok:

“This game will be our third significant match after the winter break and we are not yet in our best shape. Illnesses caused some disturbance in our preparations. As usual, we are expecting a striving and tough game with Eger. One thing is for certain, this Hungarian encounter will be a match of great importance.”

Zivko Gocic, captain, Szolnok:

“We know each other very well with the team of Eger, we cannot surprise each other in the field of tactics. We have had great battles in the past years, and so will do this time. We are just at the beginning of the year and our shape is yet unsteady. But if we play our best, we can beat Eger.”

Norbert Dabrowski, head coach, Eger:

“This tendency is a little bit boring for us. We play every time against a very strong Szolnok, and we want to win, but we are constantly defeated. We would like to win at last. We are training to reach this goal, and I think this is not only the normal optimism from our side before this game.”

Krisztian Bedo, player, Eger:

“We know each other, virtues and mistakes alike. This game is a good checkpoint for us: can we beat the Szolnok or not. Our win could give us a good dynamism for the next games. This year this match will be the first hard challenge for our team.” 

Gergo Kovacs, player, Eger:

“This game is the last match of the first round. Last year we met with Szolnok approximately 8-10 times. The results have not been so positive for us. This time we want to improve the balance.”

19.30 Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Pro Recco (ITA)

19.30

Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Pro Recco (ITA)

Last 5 CHL matches

Spandau: WWWWW

Recco: WWLWW

Last match

Spandau: 6-5 Steaua (away)

Recco: 13-4 Sabadell (home)

Peter Rohle, team manager, Spandau:

“We are very pleased to welcome one of the best club teams in the world in Berlin. Looking at the quality and consistency of this team, of course, Pro Recco is the favorite on Wednesday night. Playing with a team on that level always gives you the chance to further develop and learn and improve your own quality.”

Petar Kovacevic, head coach, Spandau:

“Pro Recco is always one of the favorites for the title, therefore we don’t have any doubt how hard it will be against this top team. We have to try, being very compact in the defense otherwise it will be not possible to perform. Recco is able to play very fast and precise and can, therefore, create many chances. We will try to minimize the mistakes in our game in order not to offer Recco too many easy scoring chances.”

Jacopo Alesiani, player, Pro Recco:

“If you beat Szolnok and Eger it means that you have quality. Spandau did that in very tight matches, was on a level with the Hungarians until the final whistle. We will have to be physically focused and ready from the beginning because we are expecting a very difficult game that we want to win to stay on top and close in the best way the first leg.”

20.30 AZC Alphen (NED) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)

20.30

AZC Alphen (NED) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)

Last 5 CHL matches

Alphen: LLLLL

Steaua: LLLWL

Last match

Alphen: 4-15 Eger (away)

Steaua: 5-6 Spandau (home)

Nemanja Stevanovic, head coach, Alphen:

“For us, these are the matches we have to compete for. I think it will be a close game. In any case, the pool will be full of supporters. The public will certainly be the winner.”

Tim de Meij, player, Alphen:

“As the youngest player at AZC Alphen, I am still learning in every game at this level. We have been looking forward to this match for some time now. Precisely because Steaua is also a newcomer. They seem to be experiencing the same as we do. It will be an interesting match.”

Andrei Iosep, head coach, Steaua:

“We are expecting a difficult game against Alphen, a team composed of many foreign players. Definitely, they will be pushed from behind by a lot of supporters and we have to manage not to lose controlling the game at the beginning. If we repeat the excellent game in defense displayed Sunday in the final of the Romanian Cup against Digi Oradea, hardly we can be beaten here.”

Dorde Filipovic, player, Steaua:

The upcoming match against Alphen will be a nice chance for my team to take the points in Champions League but we are aware that it’ll not be easy to achieve. I expect a difficult match because the Dutch team showed several good performances in its pool in the previous rounds and a lot of foreign players in their team give them respectable quality. Also, this match is coming only three days after winning Romanian Cup and I hope that we ‘ll be able to come over the tiredness and to have enough power and energy for the new success.”

Ghiban Alexandru, player, Steaua:

“It will be very difficult game for us because every team playing home is strong and wants to take points. Alphen wants to take their first points in Champions League but I hope we will have a very good game to come home with all three points!”

 

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