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2020 Champions League Champions League 2020 LEN Events News Water Polo

Champions League, Main Round, Day 6 – Preview

Showdowns in both groups

The top four ranked sides play each other both in Group A and Group B so the sixth round seems to be of paramount importance. Two big days are ahead.

Four former champions of recent years face off in Group A: 2016 winner Jug clashes with 2017 winner Szolnok (they played the 2017 final), while 2014 champion Barceloneta meets 2018 gold medallist Olympiacos.

In Dubrovnik, Jug tries to maintain its unbeaten run at home but they had some shakier days in November, losing surprisingly to Jadran Split in the Champions League and to Mladost in the Croatian Cup final. Szolnok’s new team looks dangerous but so far had to bow to Barceloneta and Olympiacos and it needed a bit of luck to keep all three points at home against Split two weeks ago.

Olympiacos is 5/5 so far in this season including a couple of single-goal wins while Barceloneta lost a single game, against Jug, and has also been enjoying a good run with some spectacular wins – it’s no way to predict the outcome of this match.

The top four teams’ encounters also give some chance for the others to come closer to the ‘big boys’. The highlighted battle of the lower house is the meeting of the Jadrans in Split. Both Split and Herceg Novi had tremendous matches in the previous rounds and might have deserved more against the top sides, still, the Croats seem to be the favourites at home. The game of Sintez and Spandau look like anybody’s match, can go either way.

Budapest is set to witness two more extraordinary matches in Group B on Wednesday. Ferencvaros, halting Recco’s home winning streak after 33 matches two weeks ago, meets Mladost, which also played a draw with the Italian giant earlier. Though the title-holders are the favourites, Mladost is on the rise, beat Jug in the Croatian Cup final so this game promises no less than sheer excitements.

Just as the other one between OSC and Recco. Recco now faces back-to-back tests against the Hungarians: they managed to save a point at home against Ferencvaros, now they play against the No 2. Magyar side. OSC can be a threat on any given day, though their loss to Marseille at home on Day 4 also shows that sometimes they can crash under pressure.

Here the 5th placed side Marseille has a good chance to get to the top four after this round. The French are in a three-game winning streak and this coming game against Terrassa will show if they could be really considered a favourite to grab a place in the Final Eight. In Tbilisi, the only two pointless clubs of the prelims, Dinamo and Waspo are eying the first win in the competition.

Champions League, Prelims, Day 6

(all times are local)

Group A (Tuesday)

19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN)

19.15 Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)

20.00 Sintez Kazan (RUS) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

20.30 Jadran Split (CRO) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)

Standings: 1. Olympiacos 15, 2. Jug 12, 3. Barceloneta 12, 4. Szolnok 9, 5. Jadran Split 4, 6. Sintez 3, 7. Spandau 2, 8. Jadran Carine 1

Group B (Wednesday)

18.30 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

18.30 A Híd-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Pro Recco (ITA)

19.00 FTC-Telekom Budapest (ITA) v Mladost Zagreb (CRO)

20.30 CN Marseille (FRA) v CN Terrassa (ESP)

Standings: 1. FTC 13, 2. OSC 12, 3. Recco 11, 4. Mladost 10, 5. Marseille 9, 6. Terrassa 3, 7. Hannover 0, 8. Tbilisi 0

QUOTES

Group A (Tuesday)

19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN)

Recent form:

Jug: WWWLW

Szolnok: WWLLW

Last round:

Jug: 18-10 v Sintez (home)

Szolnok: 5-4 v Jadran Split (home)

Vjekoslav Kobescak, head coach, Jug:

“Two more games to play before the break and every point is critical. We will try to retain second place and our good position to reach the Final 8.”

Luka Lozina, player, Jug:

“It is certainly not going to be an easy match. We have ups and downs in form but I hope on Tuesday we will try to be at our best. They are a great team with a lot individual quality but we are at home and we cannot afford to make a mistake.”

Zivko Gocic, head coach, Szolnok:

“I don’t think I need to introduce the team of Jug Dubrovnik, as they are one of the strongest and most qualified teams of the League. They have been on the top for several years, featuring the world’s best players. They have not been defeated in their home pool for quite a while, now we will try to make them tense. Besides Radomir Drasovic, who is ill at the moment, everyone will be on board. We have been preparing hard for this game, doing analysis and preparing tactics. We are expecting to have a good game, we are determined, we want to earn important points in Dubrovnik.”

David Jansik, player, Szolnok:

“No doubt that the team of Dubrovnik is one of the strongest pillars of the League. They are extremely strong in all positions as they have excellent players. We have been working hard for this game, we are aware that for a good result we need to perform above our 100 per cent. Barcelonetta was leading by three goals more than once in the second quarter in Dubrovnik, but at the end it didn’t get any points. We will do our best to succeed and to strengthen our position in the Champions League rankings.”

19.15 Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)

Recent form:

Barceloneta: WLWWW

Olympiacos: WWWWW

Last round:

Barceloneta: 13-12 v Jadran Carine (away)

Olympiacos: 13-8 v Spandau (home)

Jesus Martin, head coach, Barceloneta:

“A game against the group leader. Olympiacos is the only undefeated team and despite losing some very important players they’ve been reinforced with some new signings and are a highly competitive team. This is our second home game and we want to be on top form in front of our fans. We hope to get another win and stay at the top of the rankings.”

Blai Mallarach, player, Barceloneta:

“Olympiacos is a very tough team. They’ve won every game of this regular phase and are undoubtedly the opponent to beat. If we’re going to be up to it, we have to show that we can beat them at home. They won the Champions League two years ago, and last year just missed to retain the trophy. They’ve made quite a few changes to their line-up, losing some key players but also signing Maro Jokovic from Jug. They seem to have a very balanced team with two very strong players in the centre-forward’s position. The important thing will be to break the Greeks’ rhythm and control of the game and to surprise them – this year they’ve also changed goalkeeper and that’s been one of their main losses.”

Mike Bodegas, player, Barceloneta:

“We are aware that our next opponent is one of the best teams in this competition. They have a clear identity thanks to their “Greek DNA”. They add experienced players this year who have adapted really fast. We are preparing physically, tactically and mentally for this encounter. Each match is an opportunity to improve our game and grow as a team. And we can’t hide our ambition, we will do everything to win this game.”

Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:

“Barceloneta is a great team and we face them in a game of great interest, at their home, we all know how difficult for every visitor to play there. We will try to win this game in order to stay at front in our group. In both teams there are several leading players and the games between our teams are always really exciting.”

Stelios Argyropoulos, player, Olympiacos:

“Our target is to win this game. We want to be serious and focus on our game. Barceloneta is a team that wants to claim the title, it is very hard to play them in their home and we need to look worthy and concentrated throughout the game in order to continue our positive run in the competition.”

20.00 Sintez Kazan (RUS) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

Recent form:

Sintez: LLWLL

Spandau: LDLDL

Last round:

Sintez: 10-18 v Jug (away)

Spandau: 8-13 v Olympiacos (away)

Artem Odintsov, captain, Sintez:

“In the upcoming game we will play with the leader of the German championship. Spandau 04 team is traditionally strong.  We stand next to each other in the rankings. I’m sure that the game will be interesting, we hope for full stands at home since the support of our fans is very important for us.”

Aleksandr Eryshov, head coach, Sintez:

“The game against Spandau is very important for us. It is a strong team and I am sure the match will be interesting. We have worked on the mistakes after the past matches and are ready to show a good game. The preparation and support of home stands should help us to win.”

Petar Kovacevic, head coach, Spandau:

“We are still not complete, but my team has shown a very good approach against Olympiacos. We have to go on like this and play our game with concentration in Kazan. My team is very motivated to get the first win in the Champions League season, that’s our goal indeed.”

Maurice Jüngling, player, Spandau:

“Kazan is not among the favourites in our group, but they had some good games. Our coach prepared us very well for the match and we know our strength. An away game is always difficult, but we want our first win in the Champions League this season.”

20.30 Jadran Split (CRO) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)

Recent form:

Jadran: LDLWL

Jadran Carine: LLLDL

Last round:

Jadran Split: 4-5 v Szolnok (away)

Jadran Carine: 12-13 v Barceloneta (away)

Ivan Asic, head coach, Jadran Split:

“This is an important game for us. We didn’t have luck in some of our previous matches, I hope that will change. We lost against Jadran Carine in the Regional League. They are strong and deserve more points in Champions League then they have right now. We play in front of our home crowd and three points would mean a lot for us.”

Dean Savicevic, sports director, Jadran Split:

“We had a lot of injury problems lately and it is showed in our score sheet. But we will get our head held high and try to do our best in the games to come, against Jadran Carine and Barceloneta. We hope to get some points, this first game offers a bigger chance for us to ‘score’.”

Petar Radanovic, head coach, Jadran Carine:

“Hope we are ready for the first three points in the Champions League, in Split. In our last games we played very well, we lost to Barceloneta and Olympiacos in the last moments of the respective games and missed to get three points against Spandau. I think we have a chance in Split, the match will be a real challenge.”

Vlado Popadic, player, Jadran Carine:

“We are ready for a good game in Split. Jadran Split is a great team, recently they beat Jug. Both teams expect and wish for victory. We know each other very well since we play lot of games in the Regional League. We beat them in September in Split and each new game is new chance for both teams.”

Group B (Wednesday)

18.30 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

Recent form:

Tbilisi: LLLLL

Hannover: LLLLL

Last round:

Tbilisi: 7-17 v Marseille (away)

Hannover: 13-15 v Mladost (away)

Revaz Chomakhidze, head coach, Dinamo:

“Hannover’s team is a very strong on an individual level. There are some excellent players, but they haven’t shown their real potential till now. I hope, the game in Tbilisi will not be the point of rebirth for them.”

Mikheil Bagaturia, player, Dinamo:

“Waspo is a very strong and experienced team, which is staffed by players from the German national team and high level internationals. It will be a difficult match, however, we will do our best and try to take points in our pool and make our fans happy.”

Karsten Seehafer, head coach, Spandau.

“It’s a very important game for us and we will travel to Tbilisi to get the first points.”

Petar Muslim, player, Spandau:

“I expect a good game and our first points in the Champions League.”

18.30 A Híd-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Pro Recco (ITA)

Recent form:

OSC: WWWLW

Recco: WWDWD

Last round:

OSC: 15-10 v Terrassa (away)

Recco: 13-13 v Ferencvaros (home)

Lajos Vad, head coach, OSC:

“In our home we would like to collect a point or points. We know that we will play against on of the best teams in the world and we know we have to play in an extra class.”

Balazs Harai, player, OSC:

“It’s a very important game on Wednesday against Pro Recco. On one hand we will learn where our team is now, playing against one of the best teams in the world will show that. On the other hand, we are preparing for the Hungarian Cup Final Four and we would like to win all the games we play this week.”

Pietro Figlioli, player, Pro Recco:

“It’s a tough match in the home of a team that has the players in order to put each opponent in difficulty. We know the importance of these three points in a very balanced group with five teams standing within four points in the ranks.”

19.00 FTC-Telekom Budapest (ITA) v Mladost Zagreb (CRO)

Recent form:

FTC: WWWWD

Mladost: LWDWW

Last round:

Ferencvaros: 13-13 v Recco (away)

Mladost: 15-13 v Hannover (home)

Zsolt Varga, head coach, FTC-Telekom:

“It’s very special for me to lead my team against Mladost since I played for the Croatian club for four years. Zagreb is a very good and complex team, with two strong centre-forwards, we could see that in their last games and experienced when we had some joint preparations with them recenly.”

Gergo Zalanki, player, FTC-Telekom:

“They are a very good team with so many talented players so I hope we will show a high quality water polo in this match. We had a week to prepare for this game, so we are exited to have this opportunity. We want to keep three points at home so we will do our best.”

Zoran Bajic, head coach, Mladost:

“After winning the Croatian Cup we are looking forward to the coming great games in Champions league. We are going to play our way and hope to come home with thee points in our bag.”

Cosmin Radu, player, Mladost:

“After the win in the final of the Croatian Cup against Jug we are going to Budapest with a very good morale but at the same time we are aware that we are playing in the home of the European champions so they are the favourites. I hope that we will have an entertaining game that will have a positive result for us.”

20.30 CN Marseille (FRA) v CN Terrassa (ESP)

Recent form:

Marseille: LLWWW

Terrassa: WLLLLL

Last round:

Marseille: 17-7 v Tbilisi (home)

Terrassa: 10-15 v OSC (home)

Marc Amardeilh, head coach, Marseille:

“The match against Terrassa is very important for us if we want to go to the Final 8. Terrassa is a dynamic team with very good individual qualities. We prepare us to do the best of us. We want these three points.”

Romain Blary, player, Marseille:

“The atmosphere is good and the team is ready to prepare with the best tactics for the match against Terrassa. We have to continue our winning streak, it’s essential if we want to do great in this competition.”

Didac Cobacho, head coach, Terrassa:

“Marseille is one of the teams I like the most. They’re playing dynamically, with a lot of speed, and they defend with a lot of intensity. They have one of the best goalkeepers in the competition, Milos Scepanovic, and a big centre-forward Thomas Vernoux, young players with great projection like Alexandre Camarasa or Romain Blary. The latter we know because he had played in the Spanish league in Mataro. Other outstanding players are Ante Vukicevic and left-handed Ugo Crousillat, who has won the trophy with Szolnok. It is a very complete team, especially at home, and are fighting to reach the Final Eight. We will try to surprise a team that is the current Euro Cup champion. We have a special illusion to face them.”

Inaki Aguilar, goalkeeper, Terrassa:

“Marseille is a great club, one of the pioneers in Europe, a benchmark. For some years now, they are betting strongly on the water polo, their Euro Cup title last year is an evidence for that. They have one of the best goalkeepers in the history of Montenegro, Milos Scepanovic, and the hard core of the French team. It’s a dynamic team, with a lot of intensity. I think they have managed to set up a very complex team with French and foreign players of great quality. We’ve already seen that, in the European Super Cup, they put Ferencvaros on the edge. It’s one of the most dangerous pools in the competition. It will be an intense match, a great experience, and we will try to do our best.”