Super heavyweight bout: Recco v Ferencvaros
The big match of the day features last season’s runner-up Pro Recco (ITA) and Euro Cup winner Ferencvaros (HUN), two giants with a strong chance of going all the way to the final. At the same time, title-holder Olympiacos (GRE) is seeking its first win while the re-match of the 2017 final between Jug (CRO) and Szolnok (HUN) also promises some extra excitements.
Both Recco and Ferencvaros kicked off its respective campaigns with two wins and have also remained unbeaten in the domestic league (and cup). The clash of the titans will see a handful of Olympic and world champion players at both ends, it’s a must-watch game for all water polo fans.
The current leader of Group A Barceloneta (ESP) faces its first serious test in Moscow where Dynamo (RUS) is set to bounce back from back-to-back defeats suffered in Hungary on the first two days. Last season the Spaniards earned an easy 9-5 win in Russia, though their first battle in Barcelona ended in a 7-7 tie.
Eger (HUN) had a loss than a win, now it’s another home game against Steaua – the Romanians went down in their opening home matches but each was a tough battle so the Magyars cannot take anything for granted.
Brescia (ITA) is looking forward to an easy task, the young side of Crvena Zvezda (SRB) was soundly beaten in Belgrade twice, playing away might be even more challenging for the Serbs.
Group B was already thrown into ‘turmoil’ as Busto BPM upset both 2018 winner Olympiacos and 2017 champion Szolnok – the Italians now pay their first away visit and play with Final Eight host Hannover (GER) which had two ties so far.
Olympiacos could collect only one point in two away matches, a home victory against Spandau (GER) is a must for the Greeks. The Berliners would love to earn a positive result at last after two narrow defeats from their Croatian rivals but to achieve that in Piraeus seems to be pretty hard.
The re-match of the 2017 final between Jug and Szolnok will offer further insights into the reshaping process of both sides. They have had some ups and downs so far, though Jug was upset only in the regional league while Szolnok already lost a crucial game in Busto in the Champions League and was ousted from the national cup recently (by OSC, after a huge 8-goal defeat).
Another in-house meet of the Croats is due in Split where Jadran could finally play at home where they face Mladost. The team from the capital is yet to leave the country, they earned four valuable points against the two German sides in Zagreb now they travel to the Adriatic coast to maintain their unbeaten run – in fact, they already beat Jadran 6-9 in Split three days ago in the regional league so it’s going to be interesting to see which side learned more from that encounter.
Champions League, Day 3
18.30 ZF Eger (HUN) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)
Norbert Dabrowksi, head coach, Eger:
“If we wish to reach the Final Eight, we should win all our home games in the Champions League. Victory is a must in this match.”
Iosep Andrei, head coach, Steaua:
“Eger has four of the best players in the field right now (Vlachopoulos, Murisic, Hosnyánszky, and Rasovic) and if we want to have a chance in this game we have to repeat the good performance in defense that we had in the previous two games and stop these great players.”
19.00 Pro Recco (ITA) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)
Ratko Rudic, coach, Pro Recco:
“We are coming out of an intense period with hard physical training. It will be a game to be prepared with great care, Ferencvaros is a fantastic team with many top players like ours. If we play in an orderly and organized manner, we can achieve a good result.”
Zsolt Varga, head coach, FTC-Telekom:
“Pro Recco is one of the best teams in Europe and we can say in the world too. It’s a great honor to meet them. We have some injury-issues, three of my players would miss this game. Otherwise, it is a good possibility to see where are we at this moment and which part of our game we need to work on.”
19.00 AN Brescia (ITA) v Crvena Zvezda (SRB)
Alessandro Bovo, head coach, Brescia:
“Crvena Zvezda is a good team with a lot of young players, maybe a little bit inexperienced but physically strong. Then, on the trainer’s bench, they have Dejan Savic, the coach who won in all competitions, there’s nothing to say but – chapeau! Their previous results have not to let ourselves deceive: they’ve played against two great teams like Recco and Barceloneta, in the first half of the matches they stayed very close to the rivals. We have to pay a great attention and do our best to impose our technical qualities.”
19.15 Dynamo Moscow (RUS) v Atletic Barceloneta (ESP)
Marat Zakirov, head coach, Dynamo:
“We have no unimportant matches in our group. Our team is ready to fight and to get our first Champions League points.”
Chus Martin, head coach, Barceloneta:
“Playing away from home is always complicated. In these moments, the situation of Dynamo with 0 points is difficult so I’m looking forward to seeing a team with the need to add a victory. We have 6 points and our idea is to gain a victory too, which would secure us a 9-point advantage ahead of a direct rival. Dynamo is a great team with great players and we must play at our highest level if we want to win in Russia.”
19.00 Jadran Split (CRO) v Mladost Zagreb (CRO)
Ivan Asic, head coach, Jadran:
“I was pleased with the attitude of my players in the last match against Mladost. Their goalkeeper Marcelic was great, he stopped 18 shots, we didn’t score from some of our opportunities, we must correct that on Tuesday in the Champions League. We need to enjoy a better attacking day to win against them.”
Zoran Bajic, head coach, Mladost:
”We know the team of Jadran very well. They are a highly motivated and good team which is in good shape. We played our match in the regional league with them just three days before the Champions League game and it was a good and strong game for both teams.”
19.00 Jug Dubrovnik (CRO) v Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN)
Vjekoslav Kobescak, head coach, Jug:
“Szolnok is a great team. They made some changes, the bench is a little bit ‘shorter’ than before but they still have Prlainovic, Aleksic, Kis, and Nagy. They didn’t start well this season but that’s not strange because just as I said before they made changes in the team and it needs some time to put everything on the right place. Anyway, I expect great match on Wednesday.”
Zivko Gocic, head coach, Szolnok:
“One of the strongest of the teams is Dubrovnik, they have two players for each post. Therefore we know what to expect in Croatia. It will be very difficult because we are not ready yet, we are still in the middle of our preparatory work. We want to play a good game while showing an improving performance in the pool of Dubrovnik.”
19.00 Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Busto BPM Sport Management (ITA)
Marco Baldineti, coach, Busto BPM Sport Management:
“I’m expecting a hard game against a team that has just won the German Super Cup by beating Spandau. Hannover represents a strong complete team with many champions including Alex Giorgetti, the player of the Italian national team. After the first two victories, the expectations for us have been raised a lot and I don’t want this to create anxiety, so we should go there and play without any stress.”
20.00 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Spandau 04 (GER)
Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:
“The game against Spandau is very important for us. A possible victory will have a very positive effect on our confidence, also will bring us back in the game, in order to be in the Final Eight to try to defend our title. This is our first game in our home for this season and we are looking forward to it with impatience. We know our opponent and the way they play, we have to force very much to impose our pace.”