Jug played back-to-back finals in 2016 and 2017 in Budapest, they won three years ago and it was their 4th triumph in the Champions League history. However, it was the first time they clinched the trophy outside their city as their first three wins were all achieved in Dubrovnik (1981, 2001, 2006). With four more appearances in the finals, Jug is tied 4th on the all-time-ranks (they stand 4-4 in the finals). Jug also won the LEN Trophy (today Euro Cup) in 2000.
Since the introduction of the Final Four (then Six, now Eight), Jug reached the final stage frequently, they had 13 appearances altogether, including 6 straight F4 presences between 2005 and 2010. Here is the list with the placements: 2001 (1.), 2002 (4.), 2005 (4.), 2006 (1.), 2007 (2.), 2008 (2.), 2009 (3.), 2010 (4.), 2013 (2.), 2015 (4.), 2016 (1.), 2017 (2.), 2018 (4.).
Since 2015, Jug has never lost on Day 1, reached the semi-finals on all 4 occasions.
As for Ferencvaros, this is their first F8 appearance – the last time they played in the Champions League (Euro League) dates back to 2001 when they couldn’t qualify from the prelims. Their best ever showing in the most prestigious competition came in 1989 when they reached the semi-final but lost a thrilling duel to Catalunya (ESP) in the sudden death.
The others cups brought bigger successes to the Hungarians, they won the Cup Winners Cup 4 times (1975, 1977, 1979, 1998), were LEN Trophy finalist in 1995 and 1997 and won the Euro Cup in 2017 and 2018.
Ferencvaros won the last edition of the Super Cup, beating Olympiacos in Budapest in a penalty shootout (they lost the 2018 final to Szolnok in a similar way).
Compared to last year’s line-up, Jug’s biggest loss was the move of its goalie, world champion Marko Bijac to Recco. Two of their foreign players also left, Viktor Rasovic (SRB) and Vincenzo Renzuto (ITA), while Daniil Merkulov (RUS) and Anastasios Papanastasiou (GRE) joined the team.
Jug fields five players who were part of Croatia’s World Championships winning team in 2017: Marko Macan, Loren Fatovic, Luka Loncar, Maro Jokovic and Xavi Garcia.
As for Ferencvaros, compared to the 2018 Euro Cup winning side, the team ‘partly’ lost Norbert Madaras as the two-time Olympic champion player finished his career and became president of the water polo club – and Olympic gold medallist Daniel Varga also called it a day and became coach of the junior teams. National team member Krisztian Manhercz and Balazs Sziranyi also left. Arrived Aussie star Aaron Younger and HUN national team member Daniel Mezei from Szolnok, also leftie Mark Kallay and 2013 world champion Miklos Gor-Nagy.
One Hungarian Olympic gold medallist is still with team, captain Denes Varga, while they have three more Rio 2016 winners from Serbia: Slobodan Nikic, Nikola Jaksic and Stefan Mitrovic. Ten of its HUN players have been selected for the national team for this summer, including 2013 world champion Marton Vamos.
Jug returned to the top in the Croatian league three years ago. Between 2000 and 2013 they won the national championship 11 times, in 2014 and 2015 Primorje Rijeka came first but the last four titles landed in Dubrovnik again. They won the Croatian/Yugoslavian championships 35 times altogether.
Ferencvaros is Hungary’s most popular club thanks to its football team. The Greens won the water polo league 23 times, in this year’s final they won the duel against OSC with a 3-0 sweep.
Jug’s head coach Vjekoslav Kobescak played frequently among the best as member of Mladost Zagreb (CRO). He won the title in 1996, and was runner-up in 1997 and 2000 (that time in the Final Four). In fact, he and Ferencvaros’s head coach Zsolt Varga was team- and room-mates in Mladost for four years between 1997 and 2001. Varga is one of the icons in Hungary, he was Olympic champion in 2000 and European champion in 1997 and 1999.
In the prelims Jug had a nice unbeaten run of 10 matches with 9 wins and 1 draw, then they had three games without a win (draw with BPM, loss to Szolnok and Jadran) before securing their 1st position in Group B by beating Spandau.
Since the start of the current format in 2014, this was the first time Jug won its group as they bagged 32 points (10 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses). In the previous season they had 28 and finished second (9-1-4). In the 10-round prelims they were 3rd in 2017 (5-2-3), in 2016 (7-2-1) and in 2015 (7-1-2) and failed to qualify in 2014 (4th, 4-3-3).
Ferencvaros finished 4th in Group A: against the top three teams they had 1 draw (against Brescia) and 5 losses, while they won all 8 games against the sides ranked behind them (8-1-5).
Jug scored 152 goals, the 4th highest in the field, while FTC had 146 (6th).
Jug conceded 110 goals (4th), Ferencvaros got 117 (6th).
Scorers for the teams – Jug
Maro Jokovic 24
Daniil Merkulov 21
Loren Fatovic 20
A. Papanastasiou 19
Hrvoje Benic 14
Luka Loncar 13
Luka Lozina 12
Javier Garcia 11
Marko Macan 8
Marko Zuvela 6
Marin Tomasovic 2
Filip Krzic 1
Kristijan Culina 1
Scorers for FTC-Telekom
Denes Varga 25
Aaron Younger 24
Marton Vamos 23
Stefan Mitrovic 14
Mark Kallay 12
Tamas Sedlmayer 11
Szilard Jansik 9
Nikola Jaksic 9
Slobodan Nikic 6
Miklos Gor-Nagy 4
Toni Josef Nemet 3
Tamas Mezei 3
Zoltan Pohl 3