In the next two days, all eyes of sports fans all around the world will be on Qatar. The finalists of the FIFA World Cup will be determined.
Still, other sports can’t take a break. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the third day of the LEN Champions League matches is on the world water polo schedule. Some games will be held shortly before the semifinals in Qatar, some at the same time as the first or second halves of the football spectacles.
If you prefer water polo to football and decide to miss some parts of the FIFA World Cup semis and watch the Champions League matches, you probably won’t regret it. There will definitely be exciting games on Day 3 of the Champions League.
The big derby is on Wednesday. The Serbian and the Croatian champions will face off. Novi Beograd, the runner-up in the last season, will host Croatian powerhouse Jug.
However, some other games can be very interesting.
After a great win over Pro Recco and a leisurely cruise in Tbilisi, Olympiacos wants to extend its winning streak. The Greeks arrive in Split, to face Jadran. The Split-based team is in a crisis of results. It played well but lost to Pro Recco in the 2nd round. Still, the results and performances in the Croatian competitions were the primary cause why head coach Mile Smodlaka left the first team. Sporting director Dean Savicevic will temporarily guide the club. A change of a head coach can be “shocking therapy” for a team. We’ll see if this one will be helpful for Jadran. Last season, Olympiacos beat Jadran both in Split and Piraeus.
European champion Pro Recco will play its first home match in the 2023 Champions League. It will host Radnicki, which will play its first away game this season. Neither of the teams isn’t satisfied with what they achieved on the European stage so far. Pro Recco lost to Olympiacos, but beat Jadran after that. Radnicki failed to defeat Vouliagmeni, although it had a 4-goal lead. In the second round, the Serbs earned a hard-fought win over Hannover.
Pro Recco is always a favorite. However, Radnicki isn’t an underdog, especially because it has played better and better from match to match and will have no pressure in tomorrow’s game. The teams know each other very well. Recently, they had joint preparations.
Pro Recco and Radnicki trained together in the outdoor pool in Recco in October, but tomorrow’s game will take place in an indoor pool, “Albaro”, in Genoa. It will be the first match in international competition in the capital of Liguria after a long time.
Barceloneta and Vouliagmeni shouldn’t have very demanding tasks against Waspo 98 Hannover and Dinamo Tbilisi, respectively. Waspo and Dinamo are the only teams with no points after two rounds. Still, neither of the clubs should be underestimated, especially Hannover, which caused headaches to Jadran Split and Radnicki in the first two rounds.
Day 2, December 13
Jadran Split – Olympiacos (19:00)
Barceloneta – Hannover (19:00)
Vouliagmeni – Dinamo Tbilisi (19:00)
Pro Recco – Radnicki (21:00)
All times are local
Follow the live scores and statistics on Total Waterpolo Arena
Standings: 1. Olympiacos 6, 2. Barceloneta 6, 3. Radnicki 4, 4. Pro Recco 3, 5. Jadran S 3, 6. Vouliagmeni 1, 7. Waspo 98 Hannover 0, 8. Dinamo Tbilisi 0.
The highlight of the day is an encounter between Novi Beograd and Jug.
To date, Novi Beograd and Jug have faced each other only once. A year ago, Novi Beograd defeated Jug 14:10 in the regular season of the Regional League. Since then, Novi Beograd has changed three coaches and additionally reinforced the team. Zivko Gocic is on the bench now, big reinforcements are Alvaro Granados, Dimitrios Skoumpakis. On the other side, Jug lost several key players, but it composed a very good team.
Novi Beograd got off to an excellent start to the season. It trashed Spandau 04 in Berlin and defeated OSC in Belgrade more convincingly than expected. The Serbs have won all matches they played since the beginning of the season.
Jug suffered two losses. The Dubrovnik-based side opened the Champions League with a painful loss to Brescia, and was defeeated by Radnicki in the Regional League. Still, the latest results greatly encourage the Croats and prove that the team has reached good shape. Two weeks ago, they beat Marseille in the Champions League. Last week, they won the Croatian Cup with a convincing victory over Jadran Split in the final. It was the second trophy for Jug this season, after the Croatian Super Cup (where they beat Jadran,too).
Everything mentioned promises an exciting duel in the Sports Centre “11 April”.
Two games will take place in Budapest on Wednesday.
Ferencvaros welcomes the best French club Marseille. Both teams had tough matches last weekend The hosts won their fifth consecutive Hungarian Cup two days ago, after a thrilling final against OSC. Marseille edged out Noisy-le-Sec in the French derby. These victories boosted the self-confidence of both teams. Both sides are experienced, and they have high ambitions this season. However, Marseille has never beaten Ferencvaros. The teams have met three times so far. Ferencvaros won two games in the Champions League and one in the LEN Super Cup. The tradition of head-to-head encounters is one of the reasons why Marseille’s win in Budapest would be a surprise.
OSC Budapest is considered the favorite in the match against Spandau. The Hungarians aim to take revenge for a loss in the previous season. OSC wasn’t able to play against the Berliners in Budapest, due to a number of Covid cases. A win with a technical score (10:0) didn’t help Spandau reach the Final Eight, but it stopped OSC on their way to the F8.
Brescia will host Sabadell, the LEN Euro Cup winner. The Italians have played excellently in the last several weeks. In the first two rounds of the Champions League, they convincingly beat two powerhouses of the European water polo – Jug in Dubrovnik (13:8) and Ferencvaros in Brescia (8:4). Sabadell is the leader of the Spanish League. Still, the results in the first Champions League rounds weren’t bright. They played two home matches, and won only one point. A loss to Ferencvaros is something that was expected, but a draw with Spandau (10:10) was a disappointment. The away match in Italy isn’t a real opportunity for a makeup exam. But, it’s sure that the Spaniards won’t surrender without a big battle.
Day 2, December 14
Ferencvaros – Marseille (19:00)
OSC Budapest – Spandau 04 (19:30)
Novi Beograd – Jug AO (19:45)
Brescia – Sabadell (20:30)
Follow the live scores and statistics on Total Waterpolo Arena
Standings: 1. Novi Beograd 6, 2. Brescia 6, 3. Jug 3, 4. Ferencvaros 3, 5. OSC Budapest 1, 6. Marseille 1, 7. Sabadell 1, 8. Spandau 04 1.