Pro Recco is the third team that qualified for the Champions League quarterfinal stage.
The reigning champion didn’t show its best. Still, Recco relatively easily beat Dinamo in Tbilisi (16:8) in the fourth round of Group B and joined Ferencvaros and Barceloneta, which secured their tickets for the next phase yesterday.
The derby in this group was a clash between Jug and Olympiacos in Dubrovnik. But, the difference in this game was more extensive than in the match in Tbilisi. Ten goals separated the rivals. Olympiacos demolished Jug 15:5. Therefore, it’s most likely that Olympiacos will finish 2nd in this group, behind Pro Recco.
The only exciting duel this evening was the one in Brescia in Group A, where Brescia defeated Sabadell by a goal (11:10). Since Novi Beograd beat Steaua in Bucharest, as expected (12:5), a three-horse race for the first two places has continued. Still, there were changes in the standings. Novi Beograd is in 1st place again (9 points), Brescia is 2nd (8 pts), and Sabadell dropped from 1st to 3rd place (7 pts).
2024 Champions League, Day 4
Brescia – Sabadell 11:10 (4:4, 3:3, 4:2, 0:1)
Brescia: Balzarini 4, F.Faraglia 2, Renzuto 2, Giannazza 1, Manzi 1, Gitto 1.
Sabadell: Barroso 3, Vidovic 2, Valera 2, Asensio 1, Averka 1, Bustos 1.
Five weeks ago, Sabadell and Brescia played a low-scoring encounter in the first round. After 32 minutes, the score was 5:5, and Brescia won two points in a penalty shootout.
The duel between the same teams in Brescia was something completely different. It was a thriller again. But there were 14 goals in the first half. The Spaniards took a one-goal lead seven times, and Brescia leveled on each occasion.
At the beginning of the third quarter, Balzarini, the best scorer of the match, gave Brescia a first lead – 8:7. It didn’t take long before Vidovic leveled at 8:8. But, that was followed by a crucial interval. Brescia scored three goals in a row in three minutes (Balzarini, Gitto, Faraglia) and went to 11:8. The home side’s goalkeeper, Petar Tesanovic, was outstanding in the third quarter and helped his team with several excellent saves.
The fourth quarter was similar to the mentioned match in Sabadell. Only one goal was scored. Both defenses were up to the task. Only Valera found the net and did it from a penalty in the 28th minute. Brescia had more chances to score in the final eight minutes, but it couldn’t send the ball behind Eduardo Lorrio’s back.
Sabadell had the last attack in the match. It was a 7 on 6 possession (goalkeeper Lorrio came before Brescia’s goal). Six seconds before the end, Tesanovic saved a shot from Barroso. Still, Sabadell got another chance after a corner throw. This time, Valera took responsibility. Two seconds before the end, he scored, but the referees disallowed the goal because of an offensive foul (committed by Lorrio), and all three points stayed in Brescia.
Steaua – Novi Beograd 5:12 (1:4, 0:0, 2:4, 2:4)
Steaua Bucharest: Fulea 1, Bota 1, Neamtu 1, Tepelus 1, Oanta 1.
Novi Beograd: Granados 3, Radulovic 3, Drasovic 2, Skoumpakis 1, Vucinic 1, Pijetlovic 1, Filipovic 1.
Steaua scored an opening goal, already after 22 seconds of play. However, Novi Beograd’s defense was up to the task in the following minutes and didn’t let Steaua find the net for more than 16 minutes. The visitors went to 4:1 in the first quarter. After that, they slowed in the attack and there were no goals in the second period. Drasovic extended the visitors’ series in the first attack in the second half. Tepelus ended Steaua’s goalless phase immediately after for 2:5. Still, Novi Beograd controlled the match and, even though it missed several nice opportunities, recorded a routine victory. The Serbian champion returned to the winning track after a surprising loss to Sabadell in Belgrade.
Standings: 1. Novi Beograd 9, 2. Brescia 8, 3. Sabadell 7, 4. Steaua 0.
Jug – Olympiacos 5:15 (2:3, 0:2, 2:4, 1:6)
Jug AO: Lazic 1, Jokovic 1, Vukojevic 1, Krzic 1, Buric 1.
Olympiacos: Genidounias 4, Fountoulis 3, Vamos 2, Loncar 1, Dervisis 1, Buslje 1, Alafragkis 1, Nikolaidis 1, Papanastasiou 1.
The encounter between Olympiacos and Jug in the 1st round in Piraeus was among the most thrilling in the 2024 edition of the Champions League (the Greeks won after a penalty shootout).
The return match in Dubrovnik lacked excitement.
Jug suffered one of the most convincing defeats in the home pool in recent history. The main “culprit” for that outcome was one of the best players who grew up in Jug’s water polo academy in the 21st century, Marko Bijac. Former Jug’s captain and Olympiacos’ goalkeeper discouraged the hosts with great saves, especially in the first half.
The hosts, who were without Hannes Daube and Bogdan Djerkovic (both are at the Pan American Games with the USA and Canada respectively), opened the match very aggressively. They created several great opportunities to score in the first quarter but found the net just twice – in the 1st and the 8th minute. Between these two, Olympiacos scored three goals.
An excellent performance by Marko Bijac, who posted five saves already in the first quarter, strengthened Olympiacos’ self-confidence. The visitors played better and better at both ends of the pool. Their attacks became more dangerous. Still, Olympiacos didn’t score more than two goals in the second period because Jug’s goalie, Toni Popadic, had a good evening, as well as Bijac. In the last second of the first half, Jug earned a penalty shot, but Bijac posted another save (from Cabanas) and didn’t let Jug come back into the match.
By the middle of the third quarter, Olympiacos added two goals. Marton Vamos, a returnee to the team of Olympiacos (after a recovery from an injury), got on the scoresheet in the 18th minute (he made up for a missed penalty at the beginning of the quarter). Fountoulis made it 7:2. In the next possession, Jokovic ended Jug’s silence, which lasted 12 minutes, by converting a penalty – 3:7. Shortly after, Vukojevic scored from action and revived Jug’s hope. But, Olympiacos responded with two goals from penalty shots (Genidounias and Fountoulis) for a commanding 9:4 lead and doubled the advantage in the final eight minutes.
One of the elements that made the difference was a power-play shot conversion. Olympiacos scored six goals with a man-up (6/8), Jug only two (2/10).
Jug will probably play in the LEN Euro Cup, while Olympiacos has a minimal chance to reach the top spot in this group. However, it’s most likely that the Greeks would go to the quarterfinal stage from 2nd place.
Dinamo Tbilisi – Pro Recco 9:16 (2:2, 1:4, 2:5, 4:5)
Dinamo Tbilisi:Pjesivac 4, Dzikhtsiarenka 1, Tkeshashvili 1, Vapenski 1, Vlahovic 1, Tankosic 1.
Pro Recco: Zalanki 3, Kakaris 3, Echenique 2, Fondelli 2, Iocchi Gratta 1, Cannella 1, Younger 1, N.Presciutti 1, Condemi 1, Rossi 1.
Pro Recco arrived in Tbilisi without three aces – Ivovic (injured), Hallock (at the Pan American Games), and Di Fulvio. Despite that, few could expect that Dinamo would dictate the pace in the opening minutes. The Georgians had a 1:0, 2:1 and 3:2 lead. Recco went in front only in the 11th minute, when a 19-year-old Giglio Rossi converted a man-up for 4:3. By the end of the first half, the visitors stretched the margin to three (3:6).
Dinamo played well and managed to narrow the distance in the third period (4:6, 5:7). Then Recco produced a 5:0 run, secured a comfortable 12:5 advantage, and maintained the difference until the end. Recco’s primary weapon was power-play attacks (10 goals from 14 shots). Konstatinos Kakaris drew ten personal fouls. The hosts’ center-forward, Stefan Pjesivac, scored four goals and forced six exclusions. But Dinamo’s extra-player shots conversion was lower than 50% (5/12).
Standings: 1. Pro Recco 12, 2. Olympiacos 8, 3. Jug 4, 4. Dinamo T 0.
The next round is scheduled for November 21 and 22.