Recco to gain third win in Eger
One of the big matches of the day will be played in Eger where Recco tries to maintain its run as the only team with two wins in the field. Super Cup winner and title-holder Jug’s visit to Barcelona is the other highlight of the last round this year.
19.30 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Olympic Nice (FRA)
The meet of the ‘Olympic’ teams can easily turn into a one-sided contest. Olympiacos has an unbeaten run at home in Piraeus and the sky might come down if the French manages to halt this rush. The Greeks are fresh from beating their main domestic rival, Vouliagmeni with ease (10-4) and something similar can happen in the match to be played on Tuesday.
Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:
“The game against Olympic Nice is very important for our team. We want to remain unbeaten in our home, and the three points would keep us on the top of the ranks. In order to achieve this win we have to be fully concentrated and give our best in the game. Our team is dynamic, furthermore when we play in our home with our fans by our side they are like an extra player. I am optimistic that 2017 will find us in the first place in Group A.”
Albert Espanol, player, Olympiacos:
“The game against Nice is the last Champions League match before the Christmas break. We showed a good performance so far. Our last game in Hungary against Szolnok was very challenging. Even though we had good chances to win, it ended up in a draw – considering the circumstances it was a good result. We know how important is to win our games at home, where we enjoy great support from our fans so we are looking forward to the game on Tuesday against Olympic de Nice.”
Samuel Nardon, head coach, Nice:
„It is our first away game in the Champions League. Coming to Athens and playing with Olympiacos, one of the best teams in Europe, means a great opportunity. This is a great challenge for us and we will give the maximum to be up to the occasion.”
19.00 AN Brescia (ITA) v Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN)
Szolnok earned three points in two extremely tough matches so far, scoring in the last seconds in both, and those goals brought them a win against OSC and a draw against Olympiacos. Brescia was soundly beaten in Dubrovnik, in the LEN Super Cup final (4-10) while Szolnok enjoyed a great weekend, winning the Hungarian Cup, beating fellow Champions League contestant Eger (by the same scoreline, 10-4).
Alessandro Bovo, head coach, Brescia:
“We’ve played against Olympiacos and Jug, and now we face another candidate for the title: it will be a very tough match, Szolnok has an awesome offensive potential and we have to play with great aggressiveness. We have to be ready to make sacrifices in order to mark the Hungarians’ forward line.”
Sándor Cseh, head coach, Szolnok:
„It tells a lot about the team of Brescia that they won the Euro Cup in the last season. They also have a strong team in this season with players from the Italian national team and other foreigners. They lost to Olympiacos and won against Spandau at home. As we all know, it is always hard to play in Italy and it is especially true for the pool of Brescia. We would like to win this encounter and close the year with a successful game.”
Zivko Gocic, captain, Brescia:
„It will be a strong, rough and tumble game in the home of a good team. They have great Italian and Southern Slavonic players. In the Super Cup they were beaten by Dubrovnik by 6 goals so they want to prove now that they are a better team than that. It won’t be easy for us but we will do our best to win this encounter.”
19.30 Spandau 04 (GER) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)
OSC bounced back from the bitter loss to Szolnok in the opening round (the winner was scored in the last second) and beat Nice in France. If the Hungarians want to get closer to the Final Six in this group where only two berths are on offer (Szolnok qualifies automatically as the host) a win in Berlin seems to be a must for them. However, Spandau is always tough to play with in Berlin, last season they had only one loss besides four ties.
Balazs Vincze, head coach, OSC:
„We foresee a hard game against Spandau, but I expect our players to perform well, come through, and get a win in Berlin. We all feel the utmost sorrow for what happened in Berlin yesterday, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. We’ll have to stay secure as a team now, but we have to focus on our job to play good water polo.”
Drasko Brguljan, player, OSC:
„Spandau has a Montenegrin coach, whom I know very well from my youth playing days, so I expect them to play a very physical game. I think Spandau has a very strong team, especially at home it’s a tough challenge for anyone. We’ll be as tough as Berlin and hopefully we’ll get a win in the end.”
19.00 Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade (SRB)
Hannover clinched a draw against Barceloneta while Partizan has yet to earn a point after two defeats. It’s going to be an interesting clash as Hannover fields a couple of Montenegrin aces agasint the young Serbian side.
Zoran Milenkovic, head coach of Partizan:
„We have not played against Hannover in previous years, but we know that it is very good team, stronger than last season. Hannover has a lot of foreign players, among them are former Partizan players and members of the national team of Montenegro, Predrag Jokic and Aleksandar Radovic. Last week we reached the main goal of the first part of the season, we won national cup. It was hard and our players are a little bit tired, both physically and emotionally. Despite this fact I hope that they will find the strength to give their best, as they did in the game against Eger in the previous round.
19.15 CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)
Barceloneta lost valuable points in Hannover and it’s a tough test to recover them against the title-holder. Jug had a tremendous week once again, won the European Super Cup last Wednesday, added the Croatian Cup on Sunday and now looks for maintaining the success story. Felipe Perrone, the former key man of Barceloneta, will boost Jug’s offense and he might make the difference this time.
Chus Martin, head coach, Barceloneta:
“Jug is a fantastic team, the best in the world winning all titles last season. They come from winning the European Super Cup and the Croatian Cup so this will be a very difficult match for us. They are the favourites on Wednesday, but we play at home, we have to believe in ourselves and try to give the best. Our team has demonstrated in other occasions that in our pool and in front of our fans we are capable of everything.”
Vjekoslav Kobescak, head coach, Jug:
“We are a little bit tired after the efforts we had in the last couple of days in the LEN Super Cup and Final Four of the Croatian Cup. We know everything about Barceloneta and they know everything about us, so I expect a pretty tough match. I hope we will find the way to gain a positive result.”
Maro Jokovic, player, Jug:
“Playing against Barceloneta in the last game of this part of season is not the best option. But we are where we are. Great opponent, very strong individuals but we need to finish this year in a positive way.”
20.30 ZF Eger (HUN) v Pro Recco (ITA)
The game of the day is the last one in the schedule: Eger clashes Recco. The Italians are the only ones in the field with two wins and both were really convincing, a 18-8 thrashing of Hannover and a great win in Dubrovnik (11-8). In the meantime, Eger couldn’t do anything against the Croats but managed to beat Partizan in Belgrade after some struggles. With a couple of injured players unavailable for the year-ending contest for Eger, Recco is the big favourite of this duel.
Norbert Dabrowski (coach ZF-Eger):
“Unfortunately I have to say that this is a kind of mission impossible for us, after a really hard final of the Hungarian Cup, I have only a few players left, owing to the injuries. Still, I hope, that everybody will motivated at home, especially against Recco.”
Balazs Erdelyi, player, Eger:
“I have ambivalent feelings after the final of the Hungarian Cup. I hope, against the Recco, at home we can play on the highest level. Recco belongs to a special category in water polo, everybody knows them. But it was proved a lot of times, that they can be beaten.”
Vladimir Vujasinovic, head coach, Recco:
“A strong game awaits us, but we know there are no easy matches in the Champions League. We want to keep on winning after the good performance in Dubrovnik.”
Pietro Figlioli, player, Pro Recco:
“Eger has pool where it’s quite difficult to win. Traditionally, the Hungarian teams play very well and we must be careful. It’s the last match of the year and we want to present ourselves a Christmas gift.”
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