Celebrating 25 years of Euro Cup (previously: LEN Trophy) action, it’s another Hungarian v Italian affair in the final, just as in 1993. Title-holder Ferencvaros and new challenger Banco BPM SM Busto from Verona will clash for the trophy, first in Budapest.
A quarter-century ago Ujpest (HUN) and Recco (ITA) played in the final of the first edition of the LEN Trophy, then the Hungarian side clinched the trophy – but in the years coming, this competition has become the playing ground of Italian teams. They claimed 10 titles and had 9 runners-up, Hungary comes next in the all-time ranks with five wins and four finalists.
The last title went to Hungary, however, as Ferencvaros managed to clinch this trophy for the first time – and the Budapest based side looks for a double this time. So far the competition witnessed only two Italian teams retaining their respective titles: Brescia had back-to-back wins in 2002-2003 and Savona in 2011-2012.
The Hungarians have built a team already fitting for the Champions League (they lost the European Super Cup final to Szolnok on penalties only), a fine mix of Hungarian Olympic and World champion players and key-members of Serbia’s golden side, victorious in Rio and a series of other majors. They beat last year’s CHL semi-finalist Eger in the domestic league, coming back from 7-9 down in the last minutes.
Verona is also shaping a pretty strong team of great Italian national players and one Croatian, Serbian and Montenegrin in the mix, good enough to take on most of the Champions League participants too. As a kind of proof, they lost narrowly to Recco at home, a fine sign of their strength. Though sometimes they have ups and downs as it was mirrored in the semis against Marseille (FRA) when they had to survive some scary moments before securing their place in the final.
The two sides already met in the qualifications, though that game was played long ago on 30 September in Verona’s home. It was an exciting match with twists and turns and Ferencvaros won 11-9, scoring the last two goals after 9-9.
In terms of medals, the title-holder side has more silverware in its players’ respective treasuries but Verona is on fire to write history and clinch the first-ever European trophy for the club.
20.45 Ferencvaros-PSQ WP (HUN) v Banco BPM SM Busto (ITA)
The second leg will be played on 18 April.
For live scoring, play-by-play description and detailed statistics visit www.len.eu