Orizzonte is back in business
The landscape hasn’t changed too much: seven of last season’s quarterfinalists reached the best eight again. The only new side has made a great return in fact: after three years, 8-time winner Orizzonte (ITA) is ready to rock again.
All favourites have made the cut this weekend, only Ugra (RUS) couldn’t repeat its run to the quarters. The Russian fell in Catania where Orizzonte (ITA), regaining its former strength after a couple of weaker years, won all three matches with ease. Mataro (ESP) also beat the Russians so the Spaniards is en route to stun the continent once more, after they had qualified surprisingly for the Final Four last spring.
2017 runner-up Olympiacos (GRE) enjoyed another fine weekend back home, they won an epic 31-goal match (18-13) against Uralochka (RUS) and managed to beat LEN Trophy silver medallist Padova (ITA) in a brilliant battle. The Greeks won 10-7 but only the last period secured the three points for them. The Italians overcame Uralochka 9-5 to book the second qualifying spot with a great 6-2 run in the second half.
UVSE (HUN) took revenge against title-holder Kirishi (RUS) for the Super Cup final. Back in November the Russians captured that trophy with a convincing performance, this time the LEN Trophy-holder Hungarians stroke back and blew their rivals away. UVSE won 11-5, led 9-2 after three periods – the world’s best player, USA’s Maggie Steffens recently joined Hungarians which meant a big boost for them. Kirishi then won a tremendous fight against Vouliagmeni (GRE) on the closing day (11-9), coming from behind to clinch the second place.
Sabadell (ESP), 4-time winner in the last seven years, claimed three multiple-goal victories while enjoying another easy cruise to the quarters. Dunaujvaros (HUN) bounced back from the opening day defeat against the Spaniards and soundly beat the other Spanish club Sant Andreu and the last standing Dutch team Utrecht.
Thus the best eight feature two clubs from Spain, Italy and Hungary respectively, and one apiece from Greece and Russia. The draw for the quarters will be held next weekend during the LEN Water Polo Conference in Ostia (ITA).
Euro League, Preliminary Round
Group E (Piraeus)
- Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 9, 2. Plebiscito Padova (ITA) 6, 3. Dynamo Uralochka (RUS) 3, 4. Despar Messina (ITA) 0
Group F (Catania)
- Ekipe Orizzonte (ITA) 9, 2. La Sirena Mataro (ESP) 6, 3. Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk (RUS) 3, 4. Lille UC (FRA) 0
Group G (Budapest)
- UVSE Budapest (HUN) 9, 2. Kinef Kirishi (RUS) 6, 3. NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) 3, BVSC Zuglo (HUN) 0
Group H (Barcelona)
- Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) 9, 2. Dunaujvaros (HUN) 6, 3. CN Sant Andreu (ESP) 3, 4. UZSC Utrecht (NED) 0
In the quarterfinals the group winners will be paired with the second placed sides and shall play two matches on a home-and-away basis. Teams having been in the same preliminary group may not be drawn together.