The series of the finals in LEN’s cup competitions started late in March with the women’s Euro Cup, continued with the Women’s Champions League Final Four (March 30 – April 1), while the final of the Men’s Euro Cup started with the first leg Savona – Vasas on Saturday.
Tomorrow, the final battles for a new LEN trophy will start. Apollon Smyrnis will welcome Terrassa in the first leg of the LEN Challenger Cup (19:45 local time – 18:45 CET). The winning team will become the first-ever LEN Challenger Cup winner. Besides that, it will add its first international trophy to its treasury. It will write golden pages in its club’s and European water polo history.
Both clubs come from countries that are among the best in the world. Spain is the world champion, and Greece won bronze at the last year’s World Championships.
Terrassa and Apollon aren’t the title contenders in their national championships. But both are among the top 4 in their countries. Apollon finished the regular season in 3rd place, behind the Champions League clubs Olympiacos and Vouliagmeni, and qualified for the semifinals of the playoffs. Terrassa still hasn’t secured a spot in the playoffs in Spain, but it’s most likely that it will finish 4th in the regular season.
Both clubs have similar ways in their ways to the LEN Challenger Cup final. Both started the European season in the LEN Euro Cup,. They failed to reach Round 2, but neither of the rivals beat Terrassa or Apollon convincingly. Both teams won 4th places in their groups of the LEN Euro Cup Round 1 and got a new chance in the Challenger Cup.
Road to the final
LEN Euro Cup, Round 1: Apollon – Crvena Zvezda 8:10, Apollon – Trieste 8:13, Apollon – BVSC 12:15, Apollon – Mediterrani 9:10, Apollon – Kosice 34:6.
LEN Challenger Cup – group stage: Apollon – Ludwigsburg 11:10, Apollon – Triglav 20:6, Apollon- KVIK Kastrup 37:4 Quarterfinals: Apollon – Galatasaray 9:5 & 16:8 . Semifinals: Apollon – Tenerife 10:11 & 18:8
LEN Euro Cup, Round 1: Terrassa – Strasbourg 11:14, Terrassa – Honved 7:11, Terrassa – Telimar Palermo 15:18, Terrassa – Valis 10:11, Terrassa – Triglav 14:3.
LEN Challenger Cup – group stage:Terrassa – Het Ravijn 16:12, Terrassa – ASA Tel Aviv 12:4. Quarterfinals: Terrassa – Ludwigsburg 16:7 & 15:12. Semifinals: Terrassa – ENKA Istanbul 15:12 & 10:8
Terrassa arrived at the final with six wins in as many matches in the Challenger Cup. Apollon played seven games, recorded six wins and suffered one loss.
The Greeks were defeated by Spanish Tenerife in the 1st leg of the semifinals (10:11), but they were very convincing in the second leg in Athens (18:8).
Apollon faces the new “Spanish test “. Before the first leg, it isn’t easy to predict the outcome. Apollon plays excellently at home. However, Terrassa, which competed in the Champions League Preliminary Round a few years ago, doesn’t carry a white flag and wishes to continue its unbeaten run.
The return leg in Spain is on April 29.