The end of the 2020/21 LEN Euro Cup is approaching. On Saturday, the first matches of the semifinals will be played.
The season started early in December. A total of thirty clubs from 13 countries played in the qualifications. Two Hungarian teams, one Greek and one Serbian side reached the last four.
Tomorrow, Crvena Zvezda (Serbia) will host Szolnok (Hungary), while OSC (Hungary) will play against Vouliagmeni (Greece) in Budapest.
Two Hungarian clubs are favorites in the semis. Moreover, these two clubs have been considered the biggest favorites for the trophy since the start of the season. But, Crvena Zvezda and Vouliagmeni can surprise the favorites.
OSC and Szolnok played each other on Wednesday in the exciting match of the Hungarian League and shared the points (15:15). Szolnok kept 1st place in the standings. OSC remained in 2nd position.
OSC and Vouliagmeni have already faced off this season. But, that game had no great importance. OSC defeated the Greeks (11:7) in the 3rd-place match of the LEN Champions League qualification group in Budapest. Vouliagmeni has significantly improved shape since the start of the season. The Greek League finally restarted. Besides, the Greeks played several hard matches in LEN Euro Cup.
OSC cruised to the semifinals of the LEN Euro Cup. The Budapest-based side recorded six convincing wins and suffered just one loss. Sabadell defeated OSC in the return leg of the quarterfinals (12:10). Despite that loss, OSC easily secured the semifinals since it recorded a 17:11 victory at home.
Road to the semifinals – qualifications: OSC – Crvena Zvezda 15:5, OSC – Noisy-le-Sec 14:7, OSC – Triglav 21:5, eighth-finals: OSC – Pays d’Aix 22:6 and 20:9; quarterfinals:OSC – Sabadell 17:11 and 10:12.
Vouliagmeni won 1st place in its group of the LEN Euro Cup qualifications, but it had complicated tasks in the knockout rounds. Only one goal separated Vouliagmeni and Novi Beograd in the eighth-finals (after a 7:7 draw in 1st leg, Vouliagmeni recorded a 9:8 win in Greece). In the quarterfinals, Vouliagmeni ousted Mladost Zagreb, one of the favorites, in a penalty shootout. Are they capable of making a new surprise?
Road to the semifinals – qualifications: Vouliagmeni – Ludwigsburg 21:6, Vouliagmeni -Carouge 21:5, Vouliagmeni – Pays d’Aix 12:11; eighth-finals: Vouliagmeni – Novi Beograd 7:7 and 9:8; quarterfinals: Vouliagmeni – Mladost 10:11 and 20:18 (PSO).
Szolnok hasn’t suffered a loss in the European cups this season. The 2017 European champion finished 3rd in Group A of the Champions League qualifications but without a defeat. Szolnok was 2nd in the sub-group because it had a worse goal difference than Mladost (their encounter was ended with no winner). Szolnok easily beat Primorac in the round of 16, but it had to pass a very high hurdle in the quarterfinals. The Hungarians faced Radnicki and won the match in Kragujevac (14:12). The second game, played in Szolnok, was ended in a 10:10 draw.
Road to the semifinals – qualifications: Szolnok – Strasbourg 15:5, Szolnok – Terrassa 20:14, Szolnok – Apollon Smyrnis 13:11; eighth-finals: Szolnok – Primorac 18:8 and 17:16; quarterfinals: Szolnok – Radnicki 14:12 and 10:10
Crvena Zvezda, the Serbian Cup winner, is the only semifinalist that didn’t play in the LEN Champions League qualifications. The Serbs have had some ups and downs during the season. They beat Dynamo in Moscow (11:8), but they were 0:5 down in the return leg of the quarterfinals. Still, Crvena Zvezda managed to come back and secure a spot in the semifinals. Szolnok is the favorite in this encounter, but there are no underdogs in the semifinals. Crvena Zvezda has the right to dream of the final.
Road to the semifinals – qualifications: Crvena Zvezda – OSC 5:15, Crvena Zvezda – Triglav 19:7, Crvena Zvezda – Noisy-le-Sec 13:12; eighth-finals: Crvena Zvezda – Tourcoing 12:9 and 7:6; quarterfinals: Crvena Zvezda – Dynamo Moscow 11:8 and 9:9
OSC Budapest – Vouliagmeni (16:30)
Crvena Zvezda – Szolnok (19:00)
SEMIFINALS: April 3 and 10, 2021
FINALS: April 24 and May 8, 2021