20.30 ZF Eger (HUN) v Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN)
- Whoever wins today, writes club history as neither side has ever reached any European cup final so far. Szolnok has a 3rd place from last year as its best ever effort while Eger has already bested its previous performances as they could never get beyond the quarters.
- This is the 5th time that a semi-final match features teams from the same nation.
Previous occasions in SFs: 2005: Posillipo v Recco (both ITA) 7-6; 2006: Posillipo v Recco (both ITA) 8-9 (in extra-time); 2012: Primorje v Mladost (both CRO) 10-6; 2014: Radnicki v Partizan (both SRB) 9-4.
In the knockout-phase there were in-house finals on 2 occasions: 1993: Mladost v Jadran (both CRO) 8-7, 4-6; 1998: Posillipo v Pescara (both ITA) 8-6. There were also 2 bronze medal matches: 2006: Posillipo v Savona (both ITA) 11-8; 2009: Jug v Mladost (both CRO) 14-13. And 2 for the 5th place: 2014: Brescia v Recco (both ITA) 10-9. 2015: Eger v Szolnok (both HUN) 8-7.
Altogether there were 10 “national” encounters so far: 5 ITA, 3 CRO, 1 SRB and 1 HUN.
- Szolnok and Eger will play for the 8th time this season. Szolnok leads 7-1 in the head-to-head and they gained big wins over their arch-rival on each occasion. They swept Eger 3-0 in the league final, including two away matches since Eger’s only win pushed Szolnok to the second place in the ranks. Their 2016-17 clashes so far from Szolnok’s point: 14-9 (Hungarian Super Cup), 10-4 (cup final), 11-7, 5-8 (regular season), 13-7, 9-6, 8-3 (championship final).
- They met only once in the Champions League: in the consolation match played for the 5-6th place in 2015 in Barcelona. Eger won 8-7.
- This is the third appearance for both clubs in the Final Six. Szolnok finished 6th in 2015 and came 3rd last year after they had beat Barceloneta (7-5) in the QF, lost to Olympiacos in the semis (7-8) and won against Recco in the bronze medal match (11-7).
- Eger had 7 unsuccessful attempts before making the F6 in 2015 for the first time. Eger failed to win any of its quarter-finals in the previous two seasons, they faced Jug (CRO) on both occasions and lost 8-10 and 6-8. Eger finished 5th in 2015 and 6th in 2016. Reaching the semis after their 6-4 QF win against Brescia yesterday means the best ever result for the club in its history.
- Eger had a modest performance in offence against Brescia in the QF yesterday, netting 6 goals from 21 attempts (28.6%). Balazs Harai was the hero of the evening with 3 goals from 3 shots.
- Eger’s goalie, Branislav Mitrovic enjoyed another outstanding game making 9 stops on 13 attempts for an amazing 69.2% saving percentage.
- In the prelims Eger produced a 6-0-4 scoreline, lost to Recco home and away, lost to Jug in Dubrovnik and to Barceloneta in Barcelona.
- Szolnok has an unbeaten run so far, after they had a 5-5 tie with Olympiacos on the opening day in the prelims, they posted 9 wins in succession to top the group (though enjoying an automatic qualifying berth as the official host of this F6 tournament).
- Szolnok lost three matches this season, all in Hungary: two against OSC, first in the early stages of the championship (11-14) then in the semis (6-7), and one against Eger at the end of the regular season (5-8).
- In the prelims, Eger conceded the most goals among the F6 participants (84) and scored the fewest goals (78). On the contrary, Szolnok scored the third most (101) and conceded the fewest (62). In fact, Szolnok has improved its defence spectacularly as they finished the previous prelims with an almost identical goal-difference (2015: 122-90 – 2016: 121-90), but now had 29 less goals-against.
- Eger has won the national title 3 times (2011, 2013, 2014). Szolnok won its third straight title weeks ago, previously they were gold medallists 6 times so their golden count stands at 9. Szolnok was the first team outside the capital (Budapest) which won the Hungarian title (in 1954).
- Fellow national players face off in this semi-final. From Hungary’s 5th placed Rio side there are four in Eger (Adam Decker, Balazs Erdelyi, Balazs Harai and Norbert Hosnyanszky) and four in Szolnok (Viktor Nagy, Marton Vamos, Denes Varga and Gabor Kis). Hosnyanszky, Varga and Kis won the Olympic gold together in 2008 and with Decker, Harai, Nagy and Vamos they were part of Hungary’s world title winning team in 2013, too.
- Serbia could watch this match eagerly as five of its Rio Olympic champions will be in the pool, Milan Aleksic, Zivko Gocic and Andrija Prlainovic in Szolnok, Branislav Mitrovic and Milos Cuk in Eger (plus 2011 Champions League winner Boris Vapenski).
• There is one Montenegrin in both teams: Ugo Crousillat in Szolnok, Uros Cuckovic in Eger. An Australian, Aaron Younger completes Szolnok’s international mix.