Since the beginning of the 21st century, only one team has defended the title of the European champion.
It’s not hard to guess that it is Pro Recco. In the past two decades, the team that has dominated in the Italian and European water polo stage won two back-to-back Champions Leagues – in 2006 and 2007 and in 2021 and 2022.
Last year, Recco won its 10th crown, and from the next week, it will be chasing the 11th trophy in the Champions League.
Roster – goalkeepers: Marco Del Lungo, Tommaso Negri. Field players: Matteo Iocchi Gratta, Nicholas Presciutti, Aleksandar Ivovic (MNE),Andrea Fondelli, Alessandro Velotto, Gergo Zalanki (HUN), Pietro Figlioli, Aaron Younger (AUS), Gonzalo Oscar Echenique, Giacomo Cannella, Francesco Di Fulvio. Luka Loncar (CRO), Matteo Aicardi, Ben Hallock (USA), Alessio Caponero, Lorenzo Demarchi, Rene Girasole Nunez, Giovanni Batista Mangiante, Emanuele Marini, Andrea Nuzzo, Luca Perrone, Alberto Luca Rossi.
Head coach: Sandro Sukno.
Transfers summer 2022
Arrivals: Andrea Fondelli, Matteo Iocchi Gratta (both Savona)
Departures: Zeno Bertoli (Salerno)
Key players: Aleksandar Ivovic, Francesco Di Fulvio, Marco Del Lungo, Gergo Zalanki, Aaron Younger, Pietro Figlioli, Gonzalo Echenique, Luka Loncar,Giacomo Cannella, Matteo Aicardi, Andrea Fondelli…
Last five Champions League seasons – 2022: winner; 2021: winner; 2020 (after 9 rounds): 2nd in Group B; 2019: 3rd place; 2018: runner-up.
Best results: 10x winner (1965, 1984, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2021, 2022), 7x runner-up (1967,1970, 1972, 2006, 2009,2011,2018).
Trophies in other LEN competitions: 7x LEN Super Cup winner (2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2021)
2022 – Group B: 1st place, 39 pts (200:100). Final Eight – Quarterfinals: Pro Recco – Barceloneta 11:10, Semifinals: Pro Recco – Ferencvaros 10:7, Final: Pro Recco – Novi Beograd 17:16 (PSO).
Results in other competitions in the season 2021/22– Italian League: 1st place, Italian Cup: 1st place.
Pro Recco has dominated the world of water polo since 2003, but it waited long to win its 9th title – between 2015 and 2021.
Finally, in the “bubble” CHL season 2020/21, Recco returned to the throne, keeping a perfect record throughout the competition– 13 wins in as many games.
Immediately after winning the CHL, head coach Gabriel Hernandez left the club. He was replaced by Sandro Sukno, who bravely accepted an offer from the club that always targets trophies, although he was at the beginning of his coaching career.
Recco is a synonym for the word favorite in water polo. Still, according to the bookmakers, Recco wasn’t the favorite No.1, but in 3rd place at the beginning of the previous season. Betting companies gave more chances to Novi Beograd and Olympacos. The Greeks didn’t qualify for the F8. Novi Beograd proved that it was a favorite but failed to beat Pro Recco in the final, which ended in a penalty shootout.
The Italians won everything they could in the last season – the 10th European crown, the 34th Italian championship, and the 16th Italian Cup, while Sukno became the 12th man to win the Champions League both as a player and a head coach.
Sukno counts on almost all players who won the 2022 Champions League. Pro Recco’s team hasn’t changed significantly. It was reinforced by two members of the Italian national team – Fondelli and Iocchi Gratta.
Is it necessary to mention that Recco’s goal is the 11th European crown? No. This club has had the highest goals for years. And it has a team that is able for outstanding achievements.
But, Recco started in the season without one of its best players. Captain Aleksandar Ivovic hasn’t recovered from an injury. The title-holder will be without one of its leaders for a while, but there are many superstars on the roster who should make up for Ivovic’s absence. It is a team without weak spots, like Novi Beograd about what we wrote yesterday.
Recco’s first big test in the season was a big derby against Brescia in the Italian League yesterday. The European champion defeated its archrival thanks to an excellent defense – 7:4.
A new moment of truth that should answer what Recco is capable of will be Day 1 of the Champions League. The reigning champion will open the season with the most challenging away match in the Preliminary Round. Olympiacos will host Pro Recco in two days. Even though the encounter in Piraeus will be the first big derby in a long season, it will be one of the crucial matches in a race for the top spot in Group A.
Besides Pro Recco and Olympiacos, two teams that have won the Champions League are in Group A – Barceloneta and Jadran Split, along with Radnicki, Waspo Hannover, Dinamo Tbilisi and Vouliagmeni.