There is always an extra cutting edge to a one-nation cup final, but when it comes to the Budapest derby between UVSE and Ferencvaros with a major title on the line, the tension for this encounter is palpable.
For both teams, a Euro Cup victory would be monumental, albeit for very different reasons. For UVSE, a win would provide a much needed confidence boost after an incredibly difficult season. For Ferencvaros, who have been in scintillating form all season, it would be a continuation of their winning ways, a further demonstration of their dominance in Hungarian water polo, and, crucially, a first European title.
The first of the two final clashes will take place at Alfred Hajos (20:00 CET), and UVSE will need to deliver a near-perfect performance if they are to overcome the might of Ferencvaros. The latter has already demonstrated their mettle in all four previous encounters this season, leaving UVSE with a daunting task ahead of them.
Yet, in a cup final, form often goes out the window, and it’s anyone’s game. The young UVSE side will be counting on their home advantage, as well as their determination and resilience, to carry them through.
17th December – Hungarian Cup – FTC 9 – 5 UVSE
15th January – Euro Cup, Prelims – UVSE 8 – 10 FTC
22nd January – OB I – FTC 13 – 6 UVSE
18th March – OB I – UVSE 7 – 9 FTC
FTC Telekom are currently on a run of five wins in six appearances against UVSE in all competitions. Previously, they had only won one game in twelve previous meetings with UVSE
UVSE won the Euro Cup for the first time in 2017, and are only one of three Hungarian teams to lift the title (Honved in 2006; Dunaujvaros in 2018).
Greta Gurisatti finished the regular season as the top goal-scorer in the Hungarian league with 64 goals in 17 games. In four appearances against UVSE this season, she has bagged 8 goals. No Fradi player has more against Ujpest.
Ferencvaros’ goalkeeper, Boglarka Neszmely, has the joint highest save ratio in the Hungarian league at 57%.
This is only the second time in Women’s Euro Cup history that two teams from the same nation will meet in the final. The only previous occasion was in 2013 between two Russian sides; Sturm 2002 and SKIF.
Opinion: More than a final for UVSE
UVSE’s season has been nothing short of a gruelling test of their ability and resolve. The reigning champions of Hungary have faced some tough challenges over the past six months, and despite the looming threat of Ferencvaros since last season, even the most astute observers at Margaret Island have been caught off guard by how far behind the pace Ujpest have fallen in comparison to their city rivals.
In the four clashes across three different competitions this season, UVSE have come out on the losing end against their Budapest rivals. The only game where Marton Benczur’s youthful side played at a level deserving of a win was the Euro Cup match-up in Mulhouse. Meanwhile, Gyorgy Gerendas’ expensively-assembled team has just finished the regular season unbeaten, giving them impetus as they head into the critical phase of the season.
Up front, UVSE has yet to demonstrate any viable solutions to Ferencvaros’ dynamic, high-intensity defence. Furthermore, UVSE’s defence has been too easily penetrated by a formidable strike force, spearheaded by Fradi’s talisman, Greta Gurisatti. In both games against Fradi, UVSE need to tighten up defensively.
In the previous meetings too, Ferencvaros have started the better, giving them a platform to build on in the latter stages of the game. Tomorrow, especially in the home leg where a strong result is key, UVSE need to start well, and stay focused throughout the match. A 4-0 start for Fradi, like the game last week, will not be forgiven.
This season has been full of firsts for Ferencvaros. For the first time in their history, they won silverware in the Hungarian Cup; for the first time in history, they finished atop of the Hungarian championship with a perfect record (18 games, 18 wins); and now, into their first European final, who would be against a team who are playing with a real swagger?
It’s true that UVSE have underperformed in most departments this season, even against far lesser opposition. Only in the latter stages of the Euro Cup have UVSE demonstrate glimpses of their full potential. If an upturn in form is forthcoming, the Euro Cup final might be the perfect antidote for Ujpest to finish their season on a high. The key to finding their rhythm lies in channeling their spirit from recent displays in this continental cup competition that they last won in 2017.
The past is the past though, and Hungarian Cup aside, everything leading until now between these two teams is largely irrelevant. Silverware here could hugely impact the outcome of the remainder of the season, particularly with the Championship Play-Off’s in mind, so there are ramifications beyond this competition.
Ferencvaros, with the form, are the favourites, while UVSE, full of stars of the future, will need to play out of their skin to deny their biggest rivals a first ever international honour.
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