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2020 European Water Polo Ch European Water Polo Ch Budapest LEN Events News Water Polo

34th European Water Polo Championships, Budapest D10

Hungary, Spain, Netherlands reach semis like in 2014, 2016 and 2018, Russia returns after 2012

The champions in the previous three editions, Spain (in 2014), Hungary (in 2016) and title-holder Netherlands all made the semi-finals, re-joining just like each occasion since 2014. Russia returns for the first time after 2012, they beat Italy with ease, and 2018 silver medallist Greece is also out.

Women’s tournament

Quarter-finals: Hungary v France 16-3, Russia v Italy 13-7, Greece v Spain 9-12, Slovakia v Netherlands 2-22

For places 9-10th: Croatia v Israel 7-11. For places 11-12th: Serbia v Germany 11-11 (penalties: 2-4)

Fixtures for Thursday:

Semi-finals: Hungary v Spain (17.30), Russia v Netherlands (19.00). For places 5-8th: France v Greece (14.30), Italy v Slovakia (16.00)

The semi-finals will feature three teams which were constant players in the top flight in the last three editions, in fact they were the respective winners in those championships. The Netherlands (champion in Barcelona 2018) and Hungary (Belgrade 2016) enjoyed an easy ride what is a usual reward for the group-winners: since the top six sides are far above the rest of the field, the 4th placed teams they face are no match for them.

In the first quarter-final the Dutch downed the Slovaks by 20 goals and in the evening the Hungarians blew away the French too. Here the resistance was a bit tougher from the underdogs as they trailed only 8-3 at halftime but they ran out of power for the second half where the Hungarian rallied to an 8-0 rush.

More excitements were expected in the middle two fixtures but both matches had a calm finish as Russia out-played the Italians and Spain also sank Greece with a convincing performance. Italy’s 6-goal defeats from Spain and the Netherlands in the prelims showed that the Setterosa wasn’t in top shape and the game against Russia was another painful proof for that.

The Italians could hold on till half-time but when Russia netted two in 50 seconds to go 8-5 up early in the third, the Italian team started fading away. They were 10-6 down before the last break and there was no way back from there – they lost the second half 7-2. One of the most telling stats (besides taking only 23 shots, compared to Russia’s 32) was their disastrous man-up play, 0 for 10 in this match (Russia was 5 for 11). This also meant that Italy, which had always made the semi-finals between 1991 and 2016 (13 editions in a row), will miss the top four for the second consecutive championships.

The following encounter was something similar: Spain also led 6-5 at halftime before they started rolling. The Greeks couldn’t keep up with their rivals in the second half: they similarly had fallen below their first-half level against the Hungarian and the Russians. Though they equalised for 6-6 but then the Spaniards netted three unanswered goals in a span of 2:13 minutes and added two more in the fourth to go 6-11 up and that decided the outcome.

The early matches produced more thrills, especially the one played for the 11th place by Germany and Serbia. The Germans jumped to a 2-5 lead in the second, the Serbs bounced back any early in the fourth they led 11-7. But the Germans didn’t give in and netted four connecting goals, the last one came 11 seconds from time to save the match to a shootout and they won the first penalty-roulette at this Europeans. Then Israel staged a great 6-2 run in the second quarter against the Croats and maintained that gap till the end to clinch the 9th place, just like in Barcelona 2018.

For more details, detailed statistics, play-by-play descriptions and video clips of each goal click here

FLASH QUOTES

Women’s tournament

For places 11-12th, 11.30

Serbia v Germany 11-11, penalties: 2-4

Dragana Ivkovic, head coach, Serbia

“We started the game very badly, then we began to show what we really know in the second and in the third quarter. At the end, in the fourth quarter, we were a little bit easy, relaxed because of the four goals advantage. The German team played from the beginning until the end, they never stopped. Our team was supposed to know that after playing many games against them. We did not finish this game how we wanted or should have finished…”

Arno Troost, head coach, Germany

‘This game was filled with ups and downs. For us it was important to win this match as we came here with a bit higher expectations. I am happy that the team played and fought in the last quarter too, thanks to that, in the end we came out better.”

Gesa Deike, player, Germany

“We came for the 8th place in this tournament but we could not achieve it because of our performance in the prelims. So obviously we were super-super motivated today to win at least this match. There were some difficulties during the game, but we just went ahead, we did not care about all those things. I think this was the most important factor in winning this placement match.”

For places 9-10th, 13.00

Croatia v Israel 7-11

Marijo Caleta, head coach, Croatia

“I am happy about the way we began this game. It was great to see that the girls played the way we have discussed it before. The problem came in the 3rd quarter when we got a few goals and the difference started to grow, which we could not reduce until the end.”

Dimitrios Mavrotas, head coach, Israel

“I think we did not start the game in a very good rhythm. In the second quarter and later we were much better, we swam better, we managed to score some goals in counter attacks. We knew that was the key for the victory, we had to pace our rhythm in this game and not to get caught by their much slower one. I think we did a good job today, we deserved this win. For us this is a very big achievement because it is the first time Israel won matches and took the 9th place at the European Championships.”

Miriam Bogachenko, player, Israel

“Our main goal before the tournament was to reach the quarter-finals, which we, unfortunately, were not able to achieve because we lost against France, but this way this game was very important for us. I feel like we improved a lot during these championships, in the beginning I felt so confused and nervous because all the things going on, but today it was now or never, and we could push that all aside.”

Quarter-final, 14.30

Slovakia v Netherlands 2-22

Milan Henkrich, head coach, Slovakia

“After two wins we played against the European champions. We started slow and with too much respect for the Dutch team in the first quarter but then improved as the match went by. It is never good to lose but every match against the top teams is a good learning opportunity for us. We go into every match wanting to win but there is still a huge difference between us and the top teams. We would prefer Italy for the next match. We didn’t play in this level of championships so far so this is all new to us. We will try to stay on this good path.”

Arno Havenga, head coach, Netherlands

“Although, we knew that it is not going to be our most difficult match, we have prepared for it and we tried to do our best. This was not only an important game we must win but also a great opportunity to practice. That said, the first and second quarter were not good but then the girls tuned into the game and start feeling the flow of it. The semi-final is the reason we are here. It will be tough for all four teams. There is a visible gap between the top 6 and lower 6 teams. From now on every game is a final. The semi-final will be decided by one or two goals.”

Emna Junasova, player, Slovakia

“It’s clear that they are a much better team and we are not on the same level. They are preparing for the semi-finals but I still think we can do better. Playing these kind of games is always a good school for us.”

Bente Rogge, player, Netherlands

“I think that we lacked a little bit of focus and concentration in certain parts of the game. On the other hand we had also some good passing, counter-attacks and shots. The semi-final will be a tough and close match. We will watch the next game to see who comes in our way. In any case we are very excited to play that match.”

Maud Megens, player, Netherlands

“We enjoyed this game and we left the pool with a great feeling which is a good and positive thing while going into the semi-finals. We could consider today as a resting day as well, because if we look at the other matches we had a way easier job today.”

Quarter-final, 16.00

Russia v Italy 13-7

Andrei Belofastov, assistant coach, Russia

“The girls did what we asked them to do and we believed in them till the very end. After the match with Hungary some of the older players weren’t sure how ready and prepared they were. This is our third real match but they showed what they are made of when it was needed the most. I think we were better tactically, that was the decisive factor. Our second half was just simply perfect, we are really happy because we could demonstrate our power. Especially our counter attacks worked out very well. The Netherlands has a top-level team. We will try. We know their strong and weak points. If we repeat the performance from today’s last two quarters we can win.”

Paolo Zizza, head coach, Italy

“We held on until the halftime. We literally handed them 4-5 goals. We missed clarity and grit from our attack. Sometimes it was as we had fallen asleep. We lost our confidence. We must analyse many mistakes we made today. We must not lose our optimism, and we will fight till the end. We must show our true face in Trieste in the Olympic Qualification Tournament.”

Anastasia Fedotova, player, Russia

“The Russian machine is going strong! The Italian team is fast like us. After the second period we started pushing faster and more. The six goals difference is great, but this was not an easy game. I hope we can swim this fast against the Netherlands too. We then have a chance.”

Anna Timofeeva, player, Russia

“We put all our effort into this match because we have been very disappointed after the defeat against Hungary. We knew we must win this one. Today I was really satisfied with our performance, I think we made a huge step towards our dream. In the semi-finals we will meet the Netherlands, however, right now I cannot say what is the difference between the top six teams. So we have to be very well prepared.”

Giulia Gorlero, goalkeeper, Italy

“We played well at the beginning. We committed too many easy mistakes and they punished us for that and that’s it. We go back to Italy with our heads high. We must continue working hard on getting better.”

Quarter-final, 17.30

Greece v Spain 9-12

Georgios Morfesis, head coach, Greece

“I feel like I am repeating myself. Again we played well for two and a half periods like in the games against Russia and Hungary. We must find out why this keeps happening. After the Europeans the whole staff needs to sit down and find a solution to that. We don’t have much time. We only have 25 sessions to prepare for the Olympic Qualification Tournament. We should think about how to improve our physical power to be able to fight until the end. The areas where we should improve are our physical condition, the speed of our swim, the turnovers and the defence. There were also some bad decisions that we have to work on. In remaining matches we will do our best to achieve a good result.”

Miguel Oca, head coach, Spain

“This match was very equal in almost every aspect of the game so I truly could not name only one element which was decisive. I would say the whole match was on point, we were able to stay focused during the first quarters which helped our defence to work well, that provided a perfect base for the second half, especially for the third quarter to get a bit more ahead of the opponent. That gave us the calmness and peace of mind to finally close the game. Hungary is in a very good moment right now. They are strong, playing well. We will do our best and put everything into the pool and try to secure our place in the final.”

Margarita Plevritou, player, Greece

“It was a hard game. We made many mistakes in defence and allowed them to score easy goals. We tried, we really tried hard. Now we won’t qualify for the Olympics here but we will do our best to prepare well for the Olympic Qualification Tournament.”

Clara Espar, player, Spain

“We knew it would be a hard match, as always in the quarter-final. We fought strong but so did Greece and they kept coming up until finally we managed to play our game, pulled away by 2-3 goals and kept the difference. Next we will probably face Hungary. They play hard, they play well and are on home ground. We will see how it goes.”

Beatriz Ortiz, player, Spain

“This match was very intensive and physically exhausting. We have known this Greek team for a long time, and we have been prepared to play a very hard game against them. There were two equal periods, the second and the fourth but despite of those quarters we felt during the whole game that we are the ones who dominated the match. Now we will watch the next game between Hungary and France, because we will continue against the winner of that match.”

Quarter-final, 19.00

Hungary v France 16-3

Attila Biro, head coach, Hungary

“It only looks that the difference between the two teams was as big as the result shows. I thought this game would be less difficult for us, but I did not expect that France would shoot only three goals. And I take my hat off to my players for scoring 16. Now we will meet Spain, though I suppose all the teams reaching the semi-finals are more or less on the same level.”

Florian Bruzzo, head coach, France

“I had no target result-wise. I am more interested in how we play. Some things were good but we are still far away from their level. We will play with Greece to qualify for the World Championships. Today our defence was not too bad. The girls got tired by the end of the match. We fought a tough game with a lot of exclusions from our side as a result of wanting to stop the attacks as early as we could. We are improving but we still have a long way to go.”

Vanda Valyi, player, Hungary

“To be honest this French team belongs to the middle of the field, it was very tough to go through their defence in the beginning. We will be much more concentrated against Spain than ever before in this tournament. Our speed and dynamism could be an advantage for us.”

Geraldine Mahieu, player, France

“The atmosphere was great. We knew it would be a hard and tough match. Interestingly enough, we have played with them at this stage four times in the last four years in big tournaments. It was tough but we gave our best.”