A slightly awkward match as Barceloneta decided to “sit back” during its last 2 matches in the group, picking their opponents for the final eight. They decided that it is preferable to play against Eger instead of Szolnok in the QF, probably facing Olympiacos if they make it to the semis, instead of Recco.
That’s obviously a lot of speculation, but picking your battles is always part of the strategy for elimination tournaments.
Barceloneta is much stronger than the last couple of seasons with Perrone back home who would be a huge boost for any team. They brought Vrlic back as well, so now they have a really good center pairing: Vrlic and young, yet already experienced Tahull. They lost the Rasovic brothers (Strahinja to Eger, Viktor to Jug) and Minguell.
Chus Martin is still the main coach, and that is a big benefit of the team, as well as half of this team know what is like to win Champions League after their triumph in 2014. Definitely, we have to mention Munarriz who is playing really great the last couple of seasons, as well as half the Spanish national team: Pinedo, Fernandez, Granados, Mallarach, etc. They play fast water polo, with a lot of swimming, but also show a tight defense.
They may have some problems on the set guard position. But a lot of rotation and the movement from the field players cover the downsides they might have when fighting with centers.
Goalie Pinedo had some ups and downs this season, but overall he is in good form his entire squad. They have yet again won the national championship easily, so they come to Genoa without pressure, but aware of their strength.
Eger is one of the biggest disappointments in the recent Champions League seasons. Even with much stronger rosters, they lost matches they should have won.
Judging by the players on their respective positions, Eger is a solid team. With names like Vlacholopoulos, Hosznyanszky, S. Rasovic, Harai, Mitrovic between the posts, it sounds even better than that. Yet, somehow they tend to lose whenever the pressure is on.
They’ve ended their journey in the national championship on 3rd place, as they lost to Szolnok in the semis, even though they had 2 match points after winning the first encounter.
When you choose an opponent you have to be sure that you know what you’re doing. Barceloneta has a mindset in which they think they can beat Recco in the finals much easier than in the semis, which might be the case, and definitely not the 1st time Recco would lose the final they already believed won before the match. But to get there, the Spaniards need to overcome Eger in the quarters, and then (probably) Olympiacos in semis. However it turns out, it’s a long way to the top.
Our prediction goes in Barceloneta’s favor mainly because they are playing their game without many ups and downs, while Eger is completely opposite in that manner and lacks consistency. Both teams have decent goalkeepers, taking care not to concede on counter attacks, so we should expect a tight match with a low number of goals. If goalkeeper Mitrovic performs as he can from time to time, and Harai is at 100%, Eger might have some chances. This also includes that Hosznyanszky, Rasovic, and Vlacholopoulos score from the outside.
Still, Barceloneta has a great shooting line (Perrone, Farmera, Mallarach) with much more movement on the regular attack. They seem to be more aligned with man-up which is crucial in this type of match. Eger rarely wins really important matches, so we expect Barceloneta to advance, given their consistency in high pressure scenarios.
Eger - 40%
Barceloneta - 60%