Olympiacos is the title-holder, they won the Champions League for the second time after 2002. Last season they beat Spandau 6-5 in the quarters, Barceloneta 6-4 in the semis and Recco 9-7 in the final. The team was finalist two more times, in 2001 and 2016, they lost both finals to Jug (CRO). In 2016 it was their only loss in the entire season, including all matches.
Since the introduction of the Final 4/6/8 in 1997, Olympiacos had 6 appearances: 2001 (2.), 2002 (1.), 2007 (4.), 2016 (2.), 2017 (6.). 2018 (1.).
Brescia returned to the Final Six in 2017 after 2014, this is their fourth appearance. They are yet to win on the first day: in 2014 they lost to host Barceloneta 4-6 in the QF, then beat Recco 10-9 for the 5th place. Two years ago they were stopped by Eger in the QF (again, by 4-6), then upended Olympiacos for the 5th place 8-5. Last season they almost upset host Recco in the quarters, lost by penalties, then lost to Szolnok before beating Spandau 14-10 for the 7th place.
Brescia won the Euro Cup four times, a record till date (2002, 2003, 2006, 2016).
The two sides met 7 times in the Champions League, Olympiacos leads 4-2 with one game tied. In fact, that was their first clash in 2015, ending 9-9. The Greeks won 8-6 later in that season. In 2017 Olympiacos won 8-4 at home, Brescia stroke back 13-10 and beat the Greeks again for the 5th place in the F6. Last season Olympiacos won 7-6 in Brescia and 13-6 at home.
No big changes in Olympiacos’s line-up, Evangelos Delakas left the winning team and Dimitrios Skoumpakis inherited his cap No 3.
So it means that the scenario is the same: Olympiacos is more or less equal with the Greek national team (8 players from Piraeus were with the Greek side at the 2018 Europeans) and they are boosted by three quality Croatians, all were Olympic champions in London 2012: Josip Pavic, Andro Buslje and Paulo Obradovic.
Olympiacos’s head coach Theodoros Vlachos is the only one among the bosses in the F8 who is also head coach of his country’s national team.
Brescia, while bidding farewell to seasoned Montenegrin Vjekoslav Paskovic, welcomed two experienced Italians, Pietro Figlioli and Valentino Gallo.
With Figlioli and Gallo, Brescia has five national team members, goalie Marco del Luongo, Nicholas Presciutti and Zeno Bertoli all played in Barcelona 2018. They have quality foreigners, Croatian Olympic champion Petar Muslim and two Montenegrin European champions Mladan Janovic and Nikola Vukcevic.
Their head coach, Alessandro Bovo was part of Italy’s legendary team which swept the Olympic, World and European titles in the 90s.
Olympiacos completed another unbeaten season in Greece, becoming national champion for the 33rd time.
Brescia won the Italian championship once, in 2003. This year they lost the final to Recco by a single goal 11-10 and they are the only team to beat Recco in the entire season (happened on the last day of the regular season in the domestic league).
Since the current format has been introduced in 2014, Olympiacos had two modest years in the prelims (5th in 2014 with 3 wins, 1 draw and 6 losses, 3rd in 2015 with 3-2-5), followed by strong performances, in 2016 they remained unbeaten (7-3-0) and came first, in 2017 they were second (7-1-2), while last year they were overwhelming (12-1-1, 1st place). This season they came second again with 9-2-3.
Olympiacos took a slow start, lost in Busto and left two more points in Hannover before bouncing back and earning three wins and a valuable draw in Szolnok. On Day 7 they lost once more to Jug, then they played a draw with the Croats on Day 8, then Olympiacos won 6/6 to finish second.
Brescia’s adventures in the prelims have always been rich in twists and turns. In 2014 they produced their best placement till date, finished 2nd with 7 wins and 3 defeats. Next year came an all-time low, 6th place (2-3-5), followed by a 3rd place finish in 2017 (5-2-3), 4th place last year (8-2-4) and one better this season, 3rd (9-2-3).
Brescia opened the season with a win in Bucharest, then they lost to Recco at home but that was followed by a 7-game unbeaten streak (including back-to-back draws in Barcelona and Budapest). The only hiccup came on Day 10 when they lost unexpectedly in Moscow, but won 3 of the last four remaining matches, only lost in Recco.
Olympiacos produced similar goal difference as a year ago (153-102 in 2018, 149-98 this year). The 149 goals are the 5th best in the field, while in defence they are the second best with 98, behind Recco.
Brescia’s 133 goals are 10th in the ranks, while they are 3rd in defence with 107 goals conceded.
Scorers for the teams – Olympiacos
Konstantinos Genidounias 34 (top scorer of the prelims)
Alexandros Gounas 30
Ioannis Fountoulis 22
Paulo Obradovic 16
Georgios Dervisis 11
Konstantinos Mourikis 11
Andro Buslje 9
Stylianos Agryropoulos 6
Emmanouil Mylonakis 4
Dimitrios Skoumpakis 3
Konstantinos Kakaris 2
Dimitrios Nikolaidis 1
Scorers for Brescia
Pietro Figlioli 29
Valerio Rizzo 19
Valentino Gallo 17
Christian Presciutti 16
Petar Muslim 12
Nikola Vukcevic 10
Mladan Janovic 9
Zeno Bertoli 8
Nicholas Presciutti 6
Alessandro Nora 5
Stefano Guerrato 1