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Champions League, Main Round, Day 6 – Preview & Commentaries


Big time in Moscow, key match in Dubrovnik in Group A and a huge battle in Bucharest in Group B – these are on the horizon as the first playing day of the Champions League in the New Year is commencing.

Though there are ten more rounds to go, the last round of 2017 will see a series of key matches, especially in Group A which is super competitive and has at least six teams hunting the four qualifying berths.

Jump right to the comments from players and coaches for the upcoming games!

For live scoring, stats and play-by-play action visit www.len.eu!

Group A

The biggest clash of the day is due in Moscow where Dynamo (RUS) faces off Brescia (ITA). Only one point separates the two sides and both finished last year on a high: Dynamo earned a pretty valuable point in Barcelona while Brescia managed to beat last season’s runner-up Jug at home. Three points would definitely boost either club’s chance to reach the Final Eight in this extremely balanced group.

Group leader Olympiacos is out to maintain its run as the only unbeaten side in the League. The Greeks barely lose a match at home and they are the favourites against Hannover too, though on their better days the Germans can cause headaches to any rivals anywhere.

The encounter in Dubrovnik between Jug (CRO) and OSC (HUN) is also decisive: the winning side will stay close in the hunt for the top four places while the loser shall face an uphill battle in the remaining eight rounds to bridge the gap. The Croats are the favourites, especially at home despite they have some bad tastes as they had unexpected losses in Moscow and Brescia. Still, the Hungarians had an even more miserable run losing three straight matches – and two years ago Jug beat them in both games in the prelims (9-7, 10-7).

Barceloneta (ESP) is about to rise in the ranks after some ups and downs: the Spaniards already had three ties in the first five matches, any of those games can be considered six points lost or three earned. Though playing in Belgrade never promises an easy cruise, Barceloneta ought to get back to the winning track.

Group B

Though at the start of the prelims title-holder Szolnok (HUN), 8-time winner Recco (ITA) and regular F6 participant Eger (HUN) were regarded the favourites, Spandau (GER) and Jadran (MNE) caused a couple of upsets already. The Germans perhaps surprised even themselves by defeating the two Hungarian greats at home which catapulted them to the top positions. Now comes the hard part for them: to achieve the seemingly compulsory wins. However, to defeat Steaua in Bucharest is a real challenge. The Romanians managed to earn their first points by bettering Sabadell in Spain which gave them a big push – now they are ready to maintain this rise so this is the game of the day in this group.

Among the above-mentioned favourites Recco shouldn’t have any trouble against Sabadell and Eger is to play its easiest match in the prelims while meeting bottom-ranked Alphen (NED) at home – a good occasion to start to close up the others.

Title-holder Szolnok will have a tricky encounter in Herceg Novi: the young Montenegrin side showed a fine march in the first four matches, winning three and tying one (with Eger). However, next came the two giants, first Recco and now Szolnok. These two belong to a different category, that was mirrored by the game played shortly before Christmas (Recco won 5-15) and it’s yet to be seen on Saturday whether the home players could force a tight match or face another sound beating.

Champions League, Day 6

Group A

18.15 VK Partizan Belgrade (SRB) v CN Atletic Barceloneta (ESP)

18.30 Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)

19.15 Dynamo Moscow (RUS) v AN Brescia (ITA)

20.30 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

Group B

18.30 Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE) v Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN)

18.30 ZF Eger (HUN) v AZC Alphen (NED)

19.30 Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

20.30 Pro Recco (ITA) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP)


Insights and Commentaries for the 6th leg of the 2017/2018 Champions League

Group A

18.15 VK Partizan Belgrade (SRB) v CN Atletic Barceloneta (ESP)


VK Partizan Belgrade (SRB) v CN Atletic Barceloneta (ESP)

Last 5 CHL matches (Win, Draw, Loss)

Partizan: LLLLL

Barceloneta: DLWDD

Last match

Partizan: 6-16 Hannover (away)

Barceloneta: 7-7 Dynamo (home)

Stefan Ciric, head coach, Partizan:

“We will host the team that has been playing on a high level for a long time. By my opinion, Barceloneta is stronger this season than in the previous ones, first of all because Felipe Perrone came back to the club. But Perrone isn’t the only great player in the team of Barceloneta. Besides him, there are Vrlic, Mallarach, Munariz… We want to show the best we are able for and to make a good match. I hope that we will have support from the stands.”

Chus Martin, head coach, Barceloneta:

“In our sixth match in the Champions League we face Partizan. They don’t have any point but any match in the Banjica Pool is vey difficult. We remember that Partizan has the best school of Europe. We know that this match will be very difficult although the rival are younger that us.”

Blai Mallarach, player, Barceloneta:

“We want to get three points. Team has worked a lot for this match. Partizan is always a difficult rival, we must be very successful in attack and in defence if we want win the match. We expect to play a good game.”

18.30 Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)


Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)

Last 5 CHL matches



Last match

Jug: 8-9 Brescia (away)

OSC: 6-10 Olympiacos (home)

Vjekoslav Kobescak, head coach, Jug:

“My team, just like OSC, are not satisfied with the number of points we have achieved till now. I hope that tomorrow’s match will be a point break for us and we will start to play as we really can.”

Marko Macan, player, Jug:

“Our goal is to have continuity in our game. Till now we had to many up and down situations during the game and we need to reduce them to minimum.”

Loren Fatovic, player, Jug:

“OSC played in the Hungarian Cup final last month which confirms their strength and quality. But we also have our quality and I hope tomorrow we will show all our potential.”

Attila Petik, head coach, OSC:

“Dubrovnik is a very strong team. The last two years they have been among the best teams of the Champion League so it was really hard to steal points from them. But we can try everything in order not to leave their pool empty-handed.”

Gabor Hegedus, player, OSC:

“Unfortunately we have lost our last three games so we have a bit of a disadvantage against our rivals. It would be important to start collecting points in away matches. We know Dubrovnik is a great team and it’s hard to steal any point from their pool but we must try because our goal is to get into the Final 8.”

19.15 Dynamo Moscow (RUS) v AN Brescia (ITA)


Dynamo Moscow (RUS) v AN Brescia (ITA)

Last 5 CHL matches

Dynamo: WLWWD

Brescia: LWLWW

Last match

Dynamo: 7-7 Barceloneta (away)

Brescia: 9-8 Jug (home)

Marat Zakirov, head coach, Dynamo:

“We will play with a team which won LEN Trophy many times and which played in the finals of the Champions League in the previous season. The Italian team has a great experience, they earn many exclusions and it is hard to play with them because you have to play in man-down a lot. This is a very high level team and for us it will be a good exam.”

Ivan Nagaev, player, Dynamo:

“Certainly it is a very important match for us, in our group Brescia stands behind our team by just one point and it is very important for us to strengthen our position now and get to Final Eight. Brescia is not an easy opponent, they have some foreigners in their line-up just as we have and generally their team is equipped in all positions. Since the beginning of this year we have started to prepare for this coming game and had two training matches with Olympiacos in Athens. We are going to show a good game and get a positive result.”

Alessandro Bovo, head coach, Brescia:

“Against Dynamo we face a very hard task: their three Serbians are excellent players who play in key positions. Russian water polo is improving year by year and Dynamo is a clear expression of this trend: with no doubt they want to reach the finals but we want it too and we’ll do our best to gain points in Moscow.”

20.30 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)


AN Brescia (ITA) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)

Last 5 CHL matches

Olympiacos: DWWWW

Hannover: WLLLW

Last match:

Olympiacos: 10-6 OSC (away)

Hannover: 16-6 Partizan (home)

Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:

“The game against Hannover is our first game in the competition for the new year in our home and we want to start our commitments successfully. We want to impose our rhythm in the game and keep our opponent under pressure. Although we are almost halfway in the group stage, all teams are ranked close and each win is one step closer to Genoa.”

Paulo Obradovic, player, Olympiacos:

“Hannover is a good team and we have to be serious. However, we play in our home and we have the first word to claim win with our fans to be the extra player for us. We respect the opponent but we have to win because if we want to finish first in the group, we have to sweep all the games in our home. We are waiting for our supporters on Saturday to celebrate together a big victory to pave our way for the final phase of Champions League.”

Karsten Seehafer, head coach, Hannover:

“First game in 2018, away and against a big one. A few surprises in the near future would be good.”

Moritz Schenkel, player, Hannover:

“We want to annoy Olympiacos and show that we are able to play in the Champions League. Piraeus certainly has the bigger names in their line-up and the power density is much higher than ours. We will see…”

Predrag Jokic, player, Hannover:

“Olympiakos is a great team, one of the main contenders for winning the Champions League. They are certainly favourites in the game against us. Because of that, I expect to play a good game where we can show ourselves in the best possible way.”


Group B

18.30 Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE) v Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN)


Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)

Last 5 CHL matches

Jadran: WWDWL

Szolnok: WWLWW

Last match

Jadran: 5-15 Recco (home)

Szolnok: 17-6 Alphen (away)

Vladimir Gojkovic, head coach, Jadran:

“It is real honour and we are pleased to play with the European champion team. Szolnok is an excellent side, much better than us and they are the favourites in this game. We play at home and will do our best to keep game as close as possible.”

Daniil Merkulov, player, Jadran:

“Szolnok is one of two best teams in Europe. In this game we cannot lose anything we can just get. Hope it will be good game and at home we give our best to play as well as possible.”

Sandor Cseh, head coach, Szolnok:

“We are expecting a demanding game in the pool at Montenegro. Jadran’s players are young and they are already members of their national team. Furthermore, winter break is just behind us, therefore we cannot be in the shape we were at the end of last year. We know that we will have a tough encounter. Naturally we want to win in Herceg Novi.”

Viktor Nagy, goalkeeper, Szolnok:

“Herceg Novi consists of young and striving players. We are just catching up after our winter break. We know that we will not have an easy job, but we are the better team. We will have to be mentally strong. If we play with concentration all through the game, we will have yet another victory.”

18.30 ZF Eger (HUN) v AZC Alphen (NED)


ZF Eger (HUN) v AZC Alphen (NED)

Last 5 CHL matches


Alphen: LLLLL

Last match

Eger: 9-10 Spandau (away)

Alphen: 6-17 Szolnok (home)

Norbert Dabrowski, head coach, Eger:

“We are not in a good position in the group, we want to improve it. This match is an expected victory for us.”

Balint Lorincz, player, Eger:

“We could relax a little bit, and it was necessary for the team to leave the defeats from the last year behind. We have to win on Saturday, but we know it will not be an easy game.”

Uros Cuckovic, player, Eger:

“New year, new goals, new hopes. We are the probable winner of the game and we want to prove it. This match can be a good start for the second part of the season. We want to win and count on our fans.”

Nemanja Stevanovic, head coach, Alphen:

“We are happy that the holiday period is over. Our last official match was just before Christmas in Alphen against European champion Szolnok. Now the first game of the New Year is against Eger, again a strong team from Hungary. Especially our young players can learn a lot from this.”

Sebastiaan van Mil, player, Alphen:

“I know Eger from last year when I played for Szentes (in Hungary). It is a physically very strong team, that’s why they played in the Final 6 last year. I am looking forward playing against them, even though I know we will not win. We are building our team. Then teams like Eger are of course great to play against and learn from.”

19.30 Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)


Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

Last 5 CHL matches

Steaua: LLLLW

Spandau: LWWWW

Last match

Steaua: 11-10 Sabadell (away)

Spandau: 10-9 Eger (home)

Mihnea Gheorghe, player, Steaua:

“I will not say that it will be a hard game because there is no easy game in Champions League. Spandau is a very good team, they have improved a lot in the last period and the results don’t lie. But we showed in the last game against Sabadell that we can play solid and we need just a little bit more courage against every team to achieve better results. We prepared very well for this game, we are motivated and the most important, we are playing home and we will have all the support we need in order to win. I believe in our team, and I know that every player in this team will give 100%. May the best win!”

Mihnea Chioveanu, player, Steaua:

“We are playing with an opponent that has showed very good form in the last two games they played at home, beating the top two teams from Hungary. I am sure that they have a very good moral coming to Bucharest, but we are in high spirits too after our away win against Sabadell. We want to show that we are also a very dangerous team in our home pool.”

Peter Kovacevic, head coach, Spandau:

“Steaua does have a very experienced and physically strong team. It will be very tough to play with Steaua at home in Bucharest. I do expect a very tight game. We have to be very concentrated in defence otherwise it will be very difficult to be successful.”

20.30 Pro Recco (ITA) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP)


Pro Recco (ITA) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP)

Last 5 CHL matches

Recco: WWWLW

Sabadell: LLWLL

Last match

Recco: 15-5 Jadran (away)

Sabadell: 10-11 Steaua (home)

Francesco Di Fulvio, player, Recco:

“We closed the year with winning at Herceg Novi and we left it by beating Brescia away, but Saturday will be another battle. In the Champions League it is rare to see matches with expected results and even if we are favourites we will have to fight and suffer.”

Niccolo Figari, player, Recco:

“Against us all teams give 100%, they want to show off and avoid bad figures. It will not be easy, we will have to work hard to get the three points.”

Chava Gomez, head coach, Sabadell:

“This Saturday’s game is due against one of the best teams in the world, not only because of its long history in this competition but for all the exceptional players Recco has in its squad. It is a game where our players have to go out and enjoy playing in that pool with so much magic, and continue learning step by step.”

Ivan Gallego, player, Sabadell:

“We know that we are facing one of the best teams in Europe and the world, but we will go there to try to play water polo and fight for each ball. If we are not very concentrated the match can be very difficult. It is a game to enjoy.”

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