The LEN Euro Cup final starts tomorrow.
Before the first game, one thing is for sure – the trophy comes back to Hungary, after two years (Ferencvaros was the winner in 2017 and 2018, French Marseille succeeded “Fradi “on the throne, while the 2020 season was canceled).
Szolnok and OSC Budapest will battle for the trophy. The first match is in Szolnok tomorrow, while the return leg is in Budapest in two weeks.
Neither OSC nor Szolnok have played in the Euro Cup final (LEN Trophy until 2011) so far. But, both clubs have European trophies in their treasuries. OSC was the European champion twice – 1973 and 1979, and won the 1979 Super Cup. Szolnok won the 2017 Champions League and the Super Cup in the same year.
The upcoming encounters will be the second all-Hungarian final (in 1997, Ujpest defeated Ferencvaros).
Both clubs arrived at the final after the series of convincing wins in the previous rounds of the LEN Euro Cup. Szolnok have recorded eight wins, and one of their matches was ended in a draw. The most complex task for Szolnok was the clash with Radnicki in the quarterfinals (they won 14:12 in Kragujevac, and there was no winner in Szolnok – 10:10). OSC cruised to the final with eight victories and one loss. Sabadell defeated OSC in the 2nd leg of the quarterfinals -12:10, but everything was decided in the first match, in which OSC won 17:11.
The Hungarian league leader Szolnok hasn’t suffered a loss in a regular time of a game in all competitions this season. They were eliminated from the Champions League qualifications with two wins and one draw (Szolnok finished 2nd in the qualification group, behind Mladost because the Croats had a better goal difference). Szolnok lost to Ferencvaros in the Hungarian Cup final but after a penalty shootout. Szolnok has recorded 47 wins, and 3 draws in all competitions this season. OSC’s record is 44 wins, 3 draws, 4 losses. It should be noted that OSC didn’t play at the Final Four of the Hungarian Cup. It had to withdraw due to the corona cases at the club.
OSC and Szolnok have faced two times this season. Szolnok won the first league match in its pool (10:7). The game in Budapest ended in a tie (15:15).
Both clubs are guided by great former water polo players, Olympic champions, who retired as players in the same year – in 2018. Immediately after retirement, Zivko Gocic, the captain of Serbia at the 2016 Olympics, became Szolnok’s head coach (he was the team’s captain until then). Daniel Varga, the 2008 Olympic champion with Hungary, has been OSC’s coach since last summer, and this is his first coaching job in the senior water polo (earlier, he worked with juniors).
Szolnok and OSC have great stars on their rosters. Filip Filipovic’s arrival in Szolnok was one of the “bombs “of the 2020 transfer market. Besides Filipovic, Szolnok has two Serbs in the team – Dusko Pijetlovic and Radomir Drasovic, and several Hungarian stars, like goalkeeper Viktor Nagy, Danial Angyal, Gergo Kovacs, Adam Nagy, etc.
In summer 2020, OSC released all foreigners, but it composed a very good squad that has proved its quality. The high-class goalscorer Krisztian Manhercz is the leader of the team. Some of the key players are also Balazs Erdelyi, Balazs Harai, Gergely Burian.
There is no favorite!
1st leg, Saturday, April 24
Szolnok – OSC (19.15)
2nd leg, Saturday, May 8
OSC – Szolnok (19.15)