Ferencvaros prevented to have the same four teams reaching the semi-finals as in last year when Recco, Olympiacos, Barceloneta and Jug made the top four. Now the Hungarians took over Jug’s place with a fine win in the quarters. They are the only side in the semis now which has never won the trophy before.
All four teams already secured its respective domestic league title, so the Champions League trophy is contested by four national champions.
Ferencvaros and Barceloneta already met in the prelims, the Spaniards won both matches, 9-8 in Budapest and 9-6 in Barcelona.
Ferencvaros reached the semi-finals once in the history of this competition, in 1989 when they met another team from Barcelona, Catalunya. That time they played on a home-and-away basis, Ferencvaros won the first leg 7-6, in the return leg the Spaniards also won 7-6, after the 2x3min extra-time it stood 8-7, so a thrilling sudden death decided the outcome and in the third period the hosts scored the winning goal (the game lasted some 41 and half playing minutes, in reality more than one and a half hours).
This is the 5th semi-final for Barceloneta, they won 1 and lost 3 in the previous 4 occasions. Their only win came in 2014, at home, they won against Primorje 10-8 and went on winning the title. They lost the SF 5-9 to Crvena Zvezda in 2013, 11-12 to Recco in 2015, and 4-6 to Olympiacos last year.
Ferencvaros is the first team in the history to reach the semis after finishing 4th in the prelims. When they beat Jug 10-9 in the quarters, they became the first team to achieve this in five years as Jug had always won its game on Day 1 in the previous four editions of the Final 6/8.
Since the introduction of the current format, Barceloneta holds a 3-1 edge over Hungarian teams in the finals: they beat Szolnok 10-9 in the quarters in 2015 (after 6-6, with penalties), Szolnok took revenge next year in the same phase (7-5), then Barceloneta beat Eger 10-6 for the 5th place and last year they beat Eger once more, 9-4 in the quarters.
In fact, just as last year, Barceloneta won its QF by five goals again (12-7 against BPM).
The shooting percentages were almost identical on Thursday: Ferencvaros scored 10 goals from 24 shots for 41.7%, while Barceloneta had 12 goals from 29 shots for 41.4%
As for man-ups, Ferencvaros was 2 for 9 in extra and got 6 goals from 15 man-downs. Barceloneta was 2/11 in man-up – conceded 5 goals from 8 man-downs.
Ferencvaros goalie Soma Vogel (son of 1994 Champions League-winner Zsolt Vogel, with Ujpest, apparently against Catalunya) posted 8 saves on 15 shots for 53.3% (saved a penalty). As usual, Spanish national team goalie Dani Lopez was tremendous, had 10 saves on 16 shots for 62.5%.
As a matter of curiosity, a couple of players of Ferencvaros was part of some above-mentioned clashes with Barceloneta while playing for other teams. Denes Varga played for Primorje when they lost to the Spaniards in 2014. He then, together with Marton Vamos and Stefan Mitrovic played for Szolnok when they lost to Barceloneta in 2015 and also next year when they took revenge.
This match features two truly outstanding players, both wearing cap No 10 – 2008 Olympic champion Denes Varga was MVP of the 2012 Final Four, while Felipe Perrone was MVP of the Final Six in 2015 and 2016.
Denes Varga leads the in-house ranks of FTC with 27 goals, followed by Aaron Younger and Marton Vamos 25 goals apiece and Stefan Mitrovic with 16 goals.
In Barceloneta Alberto Munarriz is the top scorer with 29 goals (though he was 0/4 on Day 1), Felipe Perrone added 3 goals to have 23, followed by Blai Mallarach with 20 and Alvaro Granados is next with 19.