In a shadow of the Champions League matches, the teams in the LEN Euro Cup will play the return games of the eighth-finals tomorrow. The first leg answered just a few questions, there are not many teams that will enter the 2nd leg with big leads, so new excitement is in sight.
LEN Euro Cup, eighth finals, 2nd leg, preview
Only one club earned an away win in the 1st leg. And it was a huge win. Trieste shocked Noisy-le-Sec in Paris (20:12). Therefore, the Italians can already start preparing for the quarterfinals. Even though Noisy played better away than in the home matches in LEN competitions this season, booking a ticket for the quarterfinals is almost an impossible mission for them.
It seems that everything is decided in the Italian derby, Ortigia-Savona. Ortigia is the host in the second game, but the Sicilians will start with a five-goal deficit (2:7). However, an experienced team from Syracuse has a chance if it opens the match in the right way.
Vasas earned a solid advantage before the return leg against Crvena Zvezda (15:10). Still, the Serbs have played better and better in the past few weeks. They are ready for a big clash and will try to upset the favorite from Hungary.
Two giants of European water polo are coming to Belgrade tomorrow. The match Crvena Zvezda – Vasas will begin at 20:00 CET. Just 15 minutes earlier, the Champions League derby Novi Beograd – Jug will start in the other pool in Belgrade, which is ten kilometers away from the venue of the match Crvena Zvezda – Sabac. Water polo lovers in the capital of Serbia won’t be able to watch both matches. But, these things happen in water polo. Tomorrow, two Champions League games will be played at the same time in Budapest.
Besides Trieste, Savona and Vasas, only one club earned an advantage bigger than two goals in the first match. Sabac beat Barcelona 13:10. But, the Spaniards are still in the race for the quarterfinals. Between two LEN Euro Cup matches, both clubs played derby games in the national championships. Barcelona lost to Terrassa and beat Mataro. Sabac suffered defeats to the best Serbian clubs, Novi Beograd and Radnicki. A 2:11 loss to Radnicki was very painful, but it can be helpful and “wake up” Sabac before one of the most important matches in the club’s history.
Panionios welcomes Partizan, which recorded a slim advantage in Belgrade (12:11). The Greeks will have a home-field advantage, but Partizan played very well in the LEN Euro Cup and the national competitions this season and it won’t be a surprise in a young team of the seven-time European champion reach the quarterfinals.
Szolnok hosts Honved in the Hungarian derby. The Budapest-based side will start with a two-goal advantage (13:11), but that means nothing. A month ago, Szolnok defeated Honved by two goals in the Hungarian League (12:10). That proves that nothing is decided in the all-Hungarian battle.
Two games in the first leg ended in a draw. Primorac and Tourcoing shared the points in Kotor (7:7), just like in their encounter in the Champions League qualifications in the same pool. If we take into account the rosters of both teams, Tourcoing, which brought several excellent reinforcements, is a big favorite. But ups and downs in the domestic and European competitions say that Tourcoing still isn’t in good shape.
Romania will have one club in the quarterfinals, but nobody can predict which team will play in the Round of 8. Steaua Bucharest and Oradea are teams of similar qualities, they proved that both in the Romanian League and Europe. The game in Bucharest ended with no winner (8:8). Despite being the host in tomorrow’s match, Oradea can’t be considered a favorite.
Schedule (December 14)
Ortigia – Savona (15:00) – first leg 2:7
Szolnok – Honved (18:30) – first leg 11:13
Tourcoing – Primorac (19:00) – first leg 7:7
Barcelona – Sabac (19:45) – first leg 10:13
Oradea – Steaua (19:00) – first leg 8:8
Trieste – Noisy-le-Sec (20:00) – first leg 20:12
Panionios – Partizan (20:00) – first leg 11:12
Crvena Zvezda – Vasas (20:00) – first leg 10:15
All times are local