After a challenging end to last season, Savona’s experienced coach, Alberto Angelini, is confident that his team’s potential is far greater compared to recent seasons.
The 48-year-old, who won bronze at the 1996 Olympics and formerly captained the Italian national team, has told WP Development that his team has improved since last season, during which his side finished as runners-up in the Euro Cup final and 6th in the Italian Scudetto.
“We have recreated a roster similar to that of two seasons ago when we had Andrea Fondelli, Willy Molina, Matteo Iocchi Gratta, and Nemanja Vuskovic with us,” Angelini began. “Last year, we lost weight, technique, and experience, but now, thanks to the club’s efforts, we’ve managed to regain some of that strength. We have a little more solidity, physicality, density, and strength in our finishing.”
The club was busy over the summer, securing the services of Pietro Figlioli, Balazs Erdelyi, and Marko Vavic—the latter of whom, according to Angelini, will provide extra defensive security. “In defense, we have an additional central defender in Vavic. Without him, we risked having only Mario Guidi with Figlioli for marking. Erdelyi is also a versatile player, capable of doing many things.” Importantly, Angelini added, “This team is returning to a higher level than last year.”
While the summer recruitment was strong, Savona has many reasons to be excited about two of their existing players. Angelini talks about the progress of Lorenzo Bruni, who has as good a chance as any of making the Settebello’s Paris roster, should they, of course, qualify. “He is a player who has solidified his position,” Angelini noted. “In the Olympic year, he will have to continue to push and believe in the work he is doing. He has room to improve further.”
At the other end of the pool, Angelini expressed his hope for his goalkeeper Gianmarco Nicosia’s resurgence after a challenging season marred by injuries. “I really hope that Nicosia will make the best recovery. He was often injured, which forced us to make different choices last year. I would like to have Nicosia at 100%, especially in a water polo world where the importance of the goalkeeper has grown even more.”
Savona might have a stronger spine, but they have some ground to make up domestically in Italy. According to Angelini, only time will tell if his side can close the gap with the teams directly above them. “We have what it takes to bridge the gap with the teams that preceded us. Whether we can set ourselves the goal of the Scudetto final will be seen along the way,” he adds proudly, “but in recent years I think we have shown that we are never afraid to challenge anyone, including Recco.”
Savona was best known last campaign for their Euro Cup run that saw them fall short against a dominant Vasas side. Angelini, more than most, acknowledges Europe’s second-tier competition’s competitiveness. “It will be a very tough Euro Cup, with the first round featuring 12 teams eliminated from the Champions League preliminaries. The first round will be the most complicated; it is the hardest test: If you pass, then it will be pleasant to play the group stage.”