The first half of the Main Phase of the Champions League finished ten days ago, but the second half is just around the corner.
The matches of the eighth round are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
In the remaining seven rounds, the matches of Group B will be played a day before the games in Group A.
As usual, the eighth round is, in a way, a “return leg” of the seventh round. The teams that faced off ten days ago will meet again.
There were not many thrills in the seventh round. Most of the favorites were too strong for their rivals. The visiting teams recorded wins in seven of eight matches on Day 7.
Therefore, similar outcomes in all eight games are in sight. Besides, the favorites (with the exception of Olympiacos) will be the hosts on Friday and Saturday. So the teams from the lower halves of the tables in both groups will have even more demanding tasks.
A lot of things about the encounters were said and written before and after the 7th round.
Because of that, our today’s preview of the Champions League matchday differs from the others. The matches aren’t in focus. We collected some interesting facts and numbers about the Champions League clubs.
Besides, we have statistical data about the first seven rounds thanks to Total Waterpolo Arena and the team that runs our live scoring system.
2022/23 Champions League, Day 8, Preview
Group B, Friday, February 17
The highlight of the week is, like ten days ago, the Hungarian derby. The duel between Ferencvaros and OSC in the 7th round didn’t produce thrills. Ferencvaros dominated in the 2nd and the 3rd quarter. “Fradi” had a nine-goal lead (13:4). However, OSC avoided a catastrophe and suffered a 12:16 loss. Their next encounter (the fourth in this season) might be interesting if OSC does its best.
There are a lot of things that connect the two clubs. The upcoming match will be a new clash between brothers Varga. Denes Varga leads Ferencvaros as a captain. Daniel, his older brother and former teammate in several clubs and the national team, has been OSC’s head coach since 2020. They won the Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008 and many other medals playing together.
But the clash between the Vargas isn’t the only “family affair” in the Hungarian derby.
Since 2021, the matches Ferencvaros – OSC are the encounters between the Vigvari brothers, the very talented youngsters who both played for the junior national team. Vendel Vigvari, who already debuted for the senior national team, joined Ferencvaros in 2020. A year after, Vince Vigvari moved to OSC. Both started playing water polo at UVSE.
Vendel and Vincel are the future.
But, let’s look at the past of the best Hungarian clubs.
- Ferencvaros is the only club in the 2023 Champions League that won trophies in four different LEN competitions – the Champions League (2019), the Euro Cup (2017 and 2018), the defuncted Cup Winners’ Cup (1975, 1978, 1980, 1998) and LEN Super Cup (1978,1980,2018, 2019). Apart from Ferencvaros, Partizan, Mladost Zagreb, Posillipo, and two former clubs – Ujpest and Pescara – have won trophies in four LEN competitions.
- OSC Budapest was the first Hungarian club to win the Champions League (the European Cup at that time). It happened in the season 1972/73. It repeated the success in 1978/79. After OSC, five Hungarian clubs won the Champions League/Euro League/Champions’ Cup: Vasas, Ujpest, Honved, Szolnok, and Ferencvaros.
Novi Beograd beat Sabadell in a thrilling contest in the previous round (8:6). The Serbs were without a few injured players in Spain. Meanwhile, most of the injured and ill players recovered, so Novi Beograd’s coach Zivko Gocic won’t have so many headaches when he composes the 13-player roster for the game as it had in the past several weeks. The outcome of the duel in Belgrade depends most on the Serbian team, but Sabadell isn’t an underdog.
Let’s see what Novi Beograd and Sabadell have in common.
- Two South Americans play in the Champions League 2022/23 – Brazilian goalkeeper Joao Pedro Coimbra, who was one of the key players in Novi Beograd’s victory in Sabadell, and Ramiro Veich, the Argentinian on Sabadell’s roster. Some other players of the CHL clubs were born and grew up and started playing water polo in South America. But, they got citizenship of European countries and have played for the national teams in Europe, like Felipe Perrone (Barceloneta) or Gonzalo Echenique (Pro Recco). Perrone was born in Brazil and Echenique in Argentina.
Brescia continued proving that it is one of the favorites for medals in the Champions League, with a convincing win in Marseille (13:5) on Day 7. Everything but Brescia’s new win would be a surprise, despite Marseille’s very good team.
Something that connects these two clubs is the second-tier LEN competition for clubs.
- Brescia is the record-holder of the LEN Euro Cup. The Italian club won four trophies (2002, 2003, 2006, 2016). Brescia played in the final five times. It didn’t emerge as a winner in its first appearance in the final – in 2001 when it lost to Mladost Zagreb.
- Marseille has been the first and, so far, the only French club to win a trophy in a LEN competition. Marseille won the 2018 Euro Cup.
One of the most exciting matches of the 7th round was an encounter between Jug and Spandau 04. The Croats secured a narrow 12:11 win at the finish. They will probably have an easier task in the 8th round because of the home field and because Spandau will start the match with 12 players (due to a suspension of Marko Cuk for brutality in the 7th round).
Jug and Spandau have rich traditions. Both teams have won the Champions League four times. But, Spandau’s golden era was the 1980s. On the other side, Jug has been one of the most successful European clubs in the 21st century.
- Since the season 2013/14, when LEN inaugurated the current format of the Champions League, four clubs have consistently been directly qualified for the Main Phase as the wild card holders – Jug, Barceloneta, Olympiacos and Spandau. Pro Recco has been a regular participant in the Main Stage since 2013, as well as the mentioned four clubs. But Recco had to play the qualifications in the seasons 2013/14 and 2014/15 (Brescia was an Italian club with the wild card in these seasons).
- Jug and Spandau have met ten times in the current format of the Champions League (since 2014). Jug beat the Berliners in all ten games.
Ferencvaros – OSC Budapest (18:45)
Jug AO – Spandau 04 (19:00)
Novi Beograd – Sabadell (19:45)
Brescia – Marseille (20:30)
Standings: 1. Brescia 18, 2. Novi Beograd 16, 3. Ferencvaros 15, 4. Jug 11, 5. OSC Budapest 6, 6. Spandau 04 5, 7. Sabadell 4, 8. Marseille 4.
Follow the live scores and statistics on Total Waterpolo Arena
Group A, Saturday, February 18
Barceloneta displayed excellent defense against Jadran in Split and won points with a 9:5 victory. Jadran will try to make a miracle against one of the favorites
- At the halfway of the 2023 Main Phase, Barceloneta’s number is three. Thanks to Total Waterpolo Arena and our team, we have a lot of statistical data about the best individuals in the Champions League. Barceloneta’s players hold top spots in three categories after seven rounds of the Champions League. Felipe Perrone is the best scorer with 22 goals. Marc Larumbe is in 1st place on the list of the best assistants. He delivered 19 assists in the first half of the regular season. Unai Aguirre is the most successful goalkeeper with 59% of saved shots (65 saves),
Zero belongs to Jadran and OSC Budapest. But this number isn’t something bad in this case
- Jadran Split and OSC Budapest are the only two Champions League clubs that don’t have foreign players on their rosters.
Pro Recco demolished Dinamo in Tbilisi ten days ago (13:3), so it’s clear what is the most likely outcome in the match in Italy. You are wrong if you think that the European champion and Dinamo Tbilisi have nothing in common. Please take a look at their coaching staffs.
- Seven Champions League clubs are guided by foreign coaches. Most of these coaches were famous players in Yugoslavian clubs and in the countries that became independent states after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Three of these coaches come from Serbia, two from Croatia and one from Montenegro. The Serbs guide Olympiacos (Igor Milanovic), Vouliagmeni (Vladimir Vujasinovic) and Dinamo Tbilisi (Dejan Stanojevic). The Croats are on the benches of the reigning champion Pro Recco (Sandro Sukno) and Spanish Barceloneta (Elvis Fatovic). Montenegrin coaching school is represented by Milos Scepanovic (Marseille). Greek Athanasios Kechagias coaches Spandau 04.
Radnicki Kragujevac will host Olympiacos, which defeated the Serbian club 13:7 in Piraeus.
One of the interesting facts regarding this match is that Olympiacos’ ace Filip Filipovic played for Radnicki for two seasons – between 2012 and 2014. Radnicki won the LEN Euro Cup in 2013. In the next season, Filipovic was the team’s captain, and Radnicki reached the final of the Champions League.
Radnicki has been coached by Uros Stevanovic since 2013. Igor Milanovic has been leading Olympiacos since last summer. Stevanovic was Milanovic’s assistant in Partizan’s coaching staff for several years. One of the successes which Milanovic and Stevanovic achieved together in Partizan was the title of the European champion in 2011.
- Three coaches of the Champions League clubs are the coaches of the national teams at the same time: Zsolt Varga (Ferencvaros and Hungary), Dejan Stanojevic (Dinamo and Georgia) and newly-promoted Serbia head coach Uros Stevanovic (Radnicki).
Vjekoslav Kobescak (Jug) is an assistant coach on the staff of the French national team. Jure Marelja (Jadran) and Milos Scepanovic (Marseille) are the assistants of the head coaches of Croatia and Montenegro, respectively.
- Olympiacos is the team that has the best goal difference before the second half of the regular season: +40, with 93 scored and 53 conceded goals. Statistically, Olympiacos and Novi Beograd had the best attack in the first seven rounds (each team scored 93 goals), while Brescia had the best defense (48 conceded goals).
Vouliagmeni defeated Waspo Hannover 98 in Germany (14:11) in the 7th round. A new victory would be a big step toward the Final Eight for Vouliagmeni. The match in Greece is probably Hannover’s last chance to get into the run for the F8 berths
- This season, Vouliagmeni is the only debutant in the current format of the Champions League. The Greek club reached the Main Stage in the season 2012/13. In the following season, the new competition system was inaugurated. Between 2013 and 2022, Vouliagmeni didn’t manage to earn a spot among the best 16 or 12 teams (until 2018, twelve teams participated in the Main Phase).
- Only two hosts of the F6/F8 tournaments finished in last place since the CHL has been played in a new format. Eger took 6th place when it was the technical host of 2016 Final Six. The tournament wasn’t held in Eger, but in Budapest. Waspo 98 Hannover finished 8th on the home field at the 2019 Final Eight. That season, Hannover won 6th place in the group of the Preliminary Stage, but it had a guaranteed spot at the Final Eight as the host. The Germans disappointed their fans in 2019, but that season was a good school for them. They qualified for the subsequent two editions of the F8 (both held in Belgrade), and won 6th place in 2021. Hannover went further in the following year, finishing 5th in 2022.
Barceloneta – Jadran Split (13:00)
Vouliagmeni – Waspo 98 Hannover (19:00 – 18:00 CET)
Radnicki – Olympiacos (20:30)
Pro Recco – Dinamo Tbilisi (20:30)
Standings: 1. Olympiacos 18 (+40), 2. Pro Recco 18 (+37), 3. Barceloneta 18 (+34), 4. Vouliagmeni 10, 5. Radnicki 8, 6. Jadran Split 7, 7. Waspo 98 Hannover 3, 8. Dinamo Tbilisi 0.
Follow the live scores and statistics on Total Waterpolo Arena
Best individuals in first 7 rounds
As mentioned, Total Waterpolo Arena provides a lot of data. Let’s see who are the best individuals in the first seven rounds in several categories.
- Felipe Perrone is the best scorer. He found the net 22 times. The top 10: 1. Felipe Perrone (Barceloneta) 22, 2. Marko Radulovic (Radnicki) 19, 3.Alvaro Granados (Novi Beograd) 18, 3. Dmitri Kholod (Spandau) 18, 5 – 8. Andrija Basic (Waspo 98 Hannover) 17, Andrija Prlainovic (Marseille) 17, Edoardo Di Somma (Brescia) 17, Gergo Zalanki (Pro Recco) 17, 9 – 10. Marko Zuvela (Jug) 16, Stylianos Argyropoulos (Ferencvaros) 16
- Marc Larumbe (Barceloneta) is the best assitent, with 19 assist. He is followed by Ioannis Fountoulis (Olympiacos) – 18, Gergely Burian (OSC) – 16, Aleksandar Radovic (Waspo Hannover) – 14, Aristeidis Chalyvopoulos (Vouliagmeni) – 14…
- Aaron Younger (Pro Recco) and Thomas Vernoux (Marseille) are the top blockers, with nine blocked shots each. Besarion Akhveldiani (Dinamo) is in third place – 8. Adam Nagy (Ferencvaros) and Lluc Bertran blocked seven shots each…
- Andrija Prlainovic (Marseille) is the best “thief” He stole 13 balls in seven matches. Kanstantin Averka (Sabadell) is in 2nd place – with 11 steals. Efstathios Kalogeropoulos (Vouliagmeni), Gergely Burian (OSC), and Marko Zuvela (Jug) share 3rd – 5th place with 10 steals.
- The list of the best goalkeepers according to the percentage of saves: 1. Unai Aguirre (Barceloneta) 59%, 2. Petar Tesanovic (Brescia) 56%, 3. Marko Bijac (Olympiacos) 54%, 4. Joao Pedro (Novi Beograd) 53%, Panagiotis Tzortzatos (Vouliagmeni) 50%…