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2020 Champions League Champions League 2020 LEN Events News Water Polo

Champions League, Main Round, Day 3 – Preview

Barceloneta is to bounce back against Szolnok

It seems that both groups started to be divided between the favourite sides and the underdogs as the first two days didn’t bring any upsets – and the third round doesn’t promise to see surprises either.

The most interesting game comes in Group A where Barceloneta clashes with Szolnok. Both teams belong to the “big boys’ circle”, Szolnok kicked off its season with two wins while the Spaniards played pretty well for two quarters in Dubrovnik but a blackout in the third cost them the match (Jug staged a 6-0 run and sailed away with the win). Now they are looking for getting back the three points they lost ten days ago but Szolnok also showed some strength despite shaping a brand new team (which left its mark on their defence as they conceded 22 goals in their first two home appearances).

The other two favourites seem to have an easy task. Jug takes on Spandau, though the Germans’ previous visit to Croatia ended up in a well-deserved draw in Split but playing in Dubrovnik is a much tougher challenge. Last year’s runner-up Olympiacos clashes with Jadran Carine – the Montenegrins started their quest with two home losses and it’s hard to see them regaining any of those lost points in Piraeus where Olympiacos has been unbeaten in 15 home matches in this competition.

Sintez lost its first two away matches but now they play at home and have a fine chance against Jadran Split to get the first points – while the Croats are planning the same after dropping two points at home against Spandau. If these teams want to stay close to the favourites with some hope to catch the fourth place, this is a game to win for both.

The same applies for the clash of Marseille and Hannover in Group B. Here the three big favourites, FTC, Recco and OSC seem to represent a different category but the race for the fourth qualifying spot is wide open and the game between the French and the German side is quite important from this perspective.

The other chasers may need to have a miracle in this round. The two newcomers, Terrassa and Tbilisi both face another tough test against the Hungarian giants. Title-holder Ferencvaros is looking for a third home win this season, this time against Terrassa, while OSC is the first team to visit Tbilisi in the Champions League – Dinamo might have wished for an easier home opener.

Mladost prepares for a surprise against the mighty team of Recco, though it might take more than a miracle. Indeed, the last team having beaten Recco was Szolnok in the autumn of 2017 (on Day 4 in the prelims) – since then the Italians produced a 24/24 run in the group stage and reality suggests that they are set to make it 25 on Wednesday.


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Champions League, Round 3

(All times are local)

Group A (Tuesday)

19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

19.15 Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN)

20.00 Sintez Kazan (RUS) v Jadran Split (CRO)

20.00 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Jadran Carine Hercceg Novi (MNE)

Standings: 1. Olympiacos 6, 2. Jug 6, 3. Szolnok 6, 4. Barceloneta 3, 6. Spandau 1, 5. Jadran Split 1, 7. Sintez 0, 8. Jadran Carine 0

Group B (Wednesday)

18.15 FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v CN Terrassa (ESP)

18.30 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)

20.30 HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) v Pro Recco (ITA)

20.30 CN Marseille (FRA) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

Standings: 1. Recco 6, 2. OSC 6, 3. FTC 6, 4. Mladost 3, 5. Terrassa 3, 6. Marseille 0, 7. Hannover 0, 8. Tbilisi 0


Group A (Tuesday)

19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

Day 1-2

Jug: 12-7 v Jadran HN (away), 15-13 v Barceloneta (home)

Spandau: 8-11 v Barceloneta (home), 12-12 v Jadran (away)

Vjekoslav Kobescak, head coach, Jug:

“Our big win against Barceloneta ten days ago increased our self-confidence. Spandau have some great individual players with a lot of experience but I hope we will continue our winning streak in front of our crowd.”

Hrvoje Benic, player, Jug:

“It will be a tough match. They showed their quality in the first two games against Barceloneta and Jadran. I hope that we can repeat our performance what we showed against Barceloneta and gain three more points in front of our spectators.”

Marko Zuvela, player, Jug:

“There are no easy Champions League matches this season. I expect a hard and equal match and of course I hope for our victory.”

Petar Kovacevic, head coach, Spandau:

“In the weekend we had a successful showdown against Hannover. My team played combatively and I also saw a significant improvement in our performance. Everyone works very well in training and of course wants the well-deserved success. Dubrovnik is the favourite at home, but we are not without chances. We would like to stay on the wave of success as long as possible.”

Mateo Cuk, player, Spandau:

“We know how hard it is to succeed in Dubrovnik. The last seasons showed that. But that means we have no pressure and can play freely. We can concentrate on ourselves to avoid the mistakes in our game. We have to continue improving, especially the triumph against Hannover on Saturday and the game in Split meant we took many steps towards our best game. We will do our best.”

19.15 Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN)

Day 1-2

Barceloneta: 11-8 v Spandau (away), 13-15 v Jug (away)

Szolnok: 13-10 v Sintez (home), 14-12 v Jadran Carine (away)

Chus Martin, head coach, Barceloneta:

“This is the third day in the Champions League and our first game in front of our fans. The defeat in Dubrovnik ought to trigger a reaction for the coming matches. Szolnok is a great team with some experienced and talented players and our goal is to play better, especially in defence, and to get a victory in a good game.”

Alex Bustos, player, Barceloneta:

“It’s our first home game in this season of the Champions League and against a high level team. This summer Szolnok has been consolidated with the addition of some great players. It won’t be easy, but we want to get the three points and cause them difficulties in our home pool. With the support of our fans, we hope to achieve that.”

Alberto Munarriz, player, Barceloneta:

“It’s going to be a complicated game. Szolnok has gained six points to date and considering that they’ve had one home game and another away, that’s not bad. For us this match is very important because it’s our first home game and that’s where we must get the points to make some real progress. This goal needs to be absolutely clear in our mind and in order to reach it we have to start with a win over Szolnok. They don’t need this win that badly, while we strongly hope to get all three points and strengthen our team at home.”

Zivko Gocic, head coach, Szolnok:

“We are going through a tough period as we have several games of high importance in our national league and we are going to visit one of the top teams of the Champions League this Tuesday. The team of Barceloneta has well qualified players, it is a well constructed team, managing to be among the top sides in the finals each year. Therefore we are expecting a tough and demanding game. In their home pool they will do their best to improve their current status, as they have lost their last game in Dubrovnik. Nevertheless we will do our best to continue our series of wins.”

Zsombor Szeghalmi, player, Szolnok:

“Barceloneta is one of the strongest and most balanced teams in the League. We are preparing hard for this game, we know that we have to be in our best form both physically and mentally if we want to play well. I think we are on the right track, but we still have room for improvement. This game will be intriguing as Milan Aleksic, one of our ex-players is playing for the Spanish team. We envisage a vigorous match, but we want to continue our good series.”

20.00 Sintez Kazan (RUS) v Jadran Split (CRO)

Day 1-2

Sintez: 10-13 v Szolnok (away), 8-10 v Olympiacos (away)

Jadran: 8-17 v Olympiacos (home), 12-12 v Spandau (home)

Alexander Eryshov, head coach, Sintez:

“We will play the first home game of the Champions League this season against Jadran. It is important for us to win our home games, so our team is ready to achieve a decent result.”

Stepan Andryukov, player, Sintez:

“Our team is ready for this match against Jadran, we have had serious trainings, and really want to win at home.”

Ivan Asic, head coach, Jadran:

“I saw a lot of good things in our game against Mladost. We lost the game, but players showed good attitude. We tried to have some rest ahead of game against Sintez. We will leave our heart in pool. No game is an easy one, Sintez has a lot of good players, every team is strong in our group.”

Antonio Duzevic, player, Jadran:

“We have played a good match against Mladost in Split, though we dropped ourselved to a ‘black hole’ in the third quarter. We are playing better and better each game. I think we are better team than Kazan and we want to show it in this match.”

20.00 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Jadran Carine Hercceg Novi (MNE)

Day 1-2

Olympiacos: 17-8 v Jadran Split (away), 10-8 v Sintez (home)

Jadran Carine: 7-12 v Jug (home), 12-14 v Szolnok (home)

Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:

“In the forthcoming Champions League game, we will play against a good team from the Montenegro school of water polo which is almost the same as the Serbian and Croatian schools. They can cause damage to their opponent at any time. We feel good at our home, for sure we are the favourite in this game but we have to play much better than in our last game against Kazan. It is very important for us to win our third game in the competition.”

Ivan Buljubasic, player, Olympiacos:

“We will play against a well organised team with many young players. They deserve to be in Champions League. We have to be very focused in the game from the first to the last second, because in such games every move and situation is critical. We have to play very hard in order to win this match!”

Petar Radanovic, head coach, Jadran Carine:

“It will be a very difficult game for us since Olympiacos is one of the best European teams built on excellent Greek and foreign players. We have to be focusing on defencee to try to concede the fewest possible goals. It will be very difficult to play in their pool but we will give our best to get the best result possible.”

Marko Petkovic, captain, Jadran Carine:

“This will be one of the most difficult games for us in this season of the Champions League. Olympiacos is the absolute favourite in this match. The atmosphere in Athens is always excellent and it is our pleasure to play with such a great team as Olympiacos is.  We do not expect any special result there but we will give our best.”

Group B (Wednesday)

18.15 FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v CN Terrassa (ESP)

Day 1-2

FTC: 15-12 v Hannover (home), 13-7 v Marseille (home)

Terrassa: 9-5 v Tbilisi (home), 5-15 v Recco (away)

Zsolt Varga, head coach, FTC:

“We are looking forward to host the Champions League newcomer Terrassa in in our home pool. We have met them in Naples and Busto Arsizio in the previous editions of the Euro Cup, we know that their players and the team became more experienced but our goal is to keep the three points at home for the third time in a row.”

Ioannis Fountoulis, player, FTC:

“It is always exciting to play a Champions League game no matter who is the opponent. We are going to face Terrassa with maximum respect and take the three points we need. On Saturday we will also have the Super Cup final and I believe that this game is coming in the right moment in order to help us to be in the best shape for that match too.”

Didac Cobacho, head coach, Terrassa:

“Ferencvaros is the current champion, in fact, last year they won everything, the European Super Cup and the Hungarian league, one of the most prestigious championships in Europe. It is a very powerful team in every sense, with Denes Varga as a reference, one of the best in Europe and the world. It is a team destined to win the Champions League again, one of the favourites for sure. Coach Zsolt Varga has made the team grow and has perfectly adapted the new signings to the team’s game, like Ioannis Fountoulis, a very talented player with a lot of goals. But I couldn’t put just two players in the spotlight. They’re all of the highest standards so we’re talking about a team with a lot of potential. For us, after playing against Recco, it’s another chance to take on a big team of the continent. Against those teams you want to show something special after many years of work. We hope to play a game which we could enjoy and in which we must continue to gain experience and live incredible moments like we’ve done before.”

Sergi Mora, player, Terrassa:

“Our goal is to get the most possible experience, especially when we play away matches. Ferencvaros is the current title-holder in the Champions League and has also been strengthened with new excellent players as Fountoulis from Olympiakos, and the Canadian centre-forward Constantin-Bicari, also representing the highest level. They also have Denes Varga or Marton Vamos, among others. We know that we are facing a great team, one of the best. We will try to compete as much as possible and keep the score low. We know that we have to defend very well, as they have a lot of offensive potential. We’re not interested in a game with a lot of goals because our scoring ability is lower. We’re approaching this game with the utmost enthusiasm to continue gaining experience, especially for the next games we’ll play at home, where we’ll try to get more points. It’s a learning opportunity for us and obviously we’ll try to get the best possible result.”

18.30 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)

Day 1-2

Tbilisi: 5-9 v Terrassa (away), 11-21 v Mladost (away)

OSC: 13-10 v Mladost (home), 19-10 v Hannover (home)

Revaz Chomakhidze, head coach, Tbilisi:

“This Wednesday we’re going to play for the first time in Tbilisi in the Champions League. For us it is important to perform as well as possible in front of our fans, even if we face OSC, one of the best teams in our group. We can’t be considered favourites in this match, but it is in our hands to make the game interesting.”

Boris Vapenski, player, Tbilisi:

“It is going to be a good experience for all of us to play against one of the best teams in the world. I am expecting a strong, physical game, with a lot of swimming. We will do our best to play better and to present the fans with some good water polo.”

Vad Lajos, head coach, OSC:

“We do not take this match lightly, we want to collect three more points.”

Aleksa Ukropina, player, OSC:

“It’s our first away game in the Champions League this season and we hope to get the best out of it. It is our team, which has more quality and we are going for all three points because any results but victory wouldn’t be enough for our ambitions. However, we mustn’t underestimate our opponents. It’s their first game at home and they want to prove themselves in front of their fans. Also they have a couple of players who can cause some trouble for us if we don’t enter the game the right way. My opinion is that everything’s in our hands and if we start the game well it shouldn’t be a problem for us to win.”

20.30 HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) v Pro Recco (ITA)

Day 1-2

Mladost: 10-13 v OSC (away), 21-11 v Tbilisi (home)

Recco: 13-9 v Marseille (away), 15-5 v Terrassa (home)

Zoran Bajic, head coach, Mladost:

“We all know the amazing strength both in individual and team aspect of Pro Recco. We are sure that this respected and outstanding team will give us some hard time but also a good game for all our spectators. All in all, we shall play with full power and I think if we are capable to keep the outcome uncertain till the last quarter then we can even cause a surprise and win the match.”

Cosmin Radu, player, Mladost:

“I hope it’s going to be a great game to watch. They are coming here as favourites but we have been playing pretty well lately so I’m hopeful for a positive result.”

Joe Kayes, player, Pro Recco:

“Mladost has centres like Vrlic and Radu, many experienced players and excellent shooters like Bowen. It will be a challenging test, an extra motivation for us who love these types of matches. To win we will have to play as we know and do it for all four quarters.”

Francesco Di Fulvio, player, Pro Recco:

“It will be a very tough game, Mladost has changed some players compared to last year. They are a physically strong team that plays very well. Taking three points in their home will not be easy but we will present the best Pro Recco on Wednesday.”

20.30 CN Marseille (FRA) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

Day 1-2

Marseille: 9-13 v Recco (home), 7-13 v FTC (away)

Hannover: 12-15 v FTC (away), 10-19 v OSC (away)

Marc Amardeilh, head coach, Marseille:

“It’s an important match for us. We’ll give everything to get this first victory in the competition. Their team has a lot of individual qualities, so we need to control that. It’ll be a hard match but my team is ready for that. We are lucky to have our supporters behind us.”

Alexandre Camarasa, player, Marseille:

“We have to beware of this team who has a lot of collective and individual qualities. If we stay composed I’m sure that our team shall win this match. We need points as this a decisive match for reaching the Final Eight.”

Karsten Seehafer, head coach, Hannover:

“An away game in Marseille – it’s not easy… It’s the first time we travel to Marseille, they are the current Euro Cup winners. If we are able to retain all the good things from the last games it will be a close clash. We are not the favourites, but it’s not easy to beat us.”

Julian Real, player, Hannover:

“I expect a game of equal terms. Both teams are pointless yet and want the victory.  We need to focus on our defence and stay calm in the attack.  At the end I hope that we gain a close victory.”