Champions League, Preliminaries, Day 6 – Preview

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4. März 2015
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4. März 2015
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Champions League, Preliminaries, Day 6 – Preview

The second half of the prelims starts on Wednesday and due to the usually applied playing order this round will see the rematches of Day 5. So three weeks after the Italian and Croatian ‘in-house battles’ here they come again with a couple of crucial encounters especially in Group A.

Group A
18.45 ZF Eger (HUN) vs. Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)

As Recco seems to sail away with the top spot and Barceloneta has a guaranteed berth in the Final Six as the host, the hunt for the remaining spot is really sharp. In mid-February Radnicki managed to beat the Hungarian champion in a huge fight. The Serbs’ 12-11 win kept them in the race while Eger – controlling the game in the first half but collapsing in the third period – missed the chance to widen the gap between themselves and the chasers. Now the Hungarians is looking for a revenge: in this extremely levelled field winning the home games is essential to go through, but Eger had some ups and downs recently: they lost a crucial league game to OSC Budapest 4-5 in which they were 3-0 up early but faded in front of the goal later. Radnicki showed similar signs as they lost to Crvena Zvezda at home but came off with a 10-10 draw after a huge match in Dubrovnik in the Regional League.

This is mirrored by the opinion of Norbert Dabrowski, head coach of ZF-Eger: “We know that Radnicki is a very unpredictable team. They had lost at home against Zvezda then had a tie in Dubrovnik. We are preparing for the team against whom we lost with a goal three weeks ago.”

Team captain Peter Biros was confident: “I am absolutely sure that we are a better team than Kragujevac. However, this had not been shown at our first game. We were rushing at the beginning, did not play what we had agreed and what we were capable of. But it will be different this time, we’re going to win. I am positive that we are over of the small setback we had.”
Champions League, Preliminaries, Day 6 – Preview

The second half of the prelims starts on Wednesday and due to the usually applied playing order this round will see the rematches of Day 5. So three weeks after the Italian and Croatian ‘in-house battles’ here they come again with a couple of crucial encounters especially in Group A.

Group A
18.45 ZF Eger (HUN) vs. Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)

As Recco seems to sail away with the top spot and Barceloneta has a guaranteed berth in the Final Six as the host, the hunt for the remaining spot is really sharp. In mid-February Radnicki managed to beat the Hungarian champion in a huge fight. The Serbs’ 12-11 win kept them in the race while Eger – controlling the game in the first half but collapsing in the third period – missed the chance to widen the gap between themselves and the chasers. Now the Hungarians is looking for a revenge: in this extremely levelled field winning the home games is essential to go through, but Eger had some ups and downs recently: they lost a crucial league game to OSC Budapest 4-5 in which they were 3-0 up early but faded in front of the goal later. Radnicki showed similar signs as they lost to Crvena Zvezda at home but came off with a 10-10 draw after a huge match in Dubrovnik in the Regional League.

This is mirrored by the opinion of Norbert Dabrowski, head coach of ZF-Eger: “We know that Radnicki is a very unpredictable team. They had lost at home against Zvezda then had a tie in Dubrovnik. We are preparing for the team against whom we lost with a goal three weeks ago.”

Team captain Peter Biros was confident: “I am absolutely sure that we are a better team than Kragujevac. However, this had not been shown at our first game. We were rushing at the beginning, did not play what we had agreed and what we were capable of. But it will be different this time, we’re going to win. I am positive that we are over of the small setback we had.”

Balazs Harai added: “We were disappointed after the match in Kragujevac. We played quite dumbly there, still, we shouldn’t have lost that game. We are preparing for Wednesday with full speed to prove to our fans that the previous result was only an accident. We are going to win.”

One of the younger players, Balint Lorincz said: “Our long-term goal hasn’t changed: we want to be in the Final Six in Barcelona. So we can’t allow any more mistakes. We want to win at home and we will. I am sure that a lot of people are coming to watch the game and cheer for us, which would be a huge help for the team.”

In the other camp head coach Uros Stevanovic said: “This game is very important for both teams because anyone winning this match will get very close to the Final Six. We expect a difficult game, like it was in Kragujevac.”

19.15 CN Barceloneta (ESP) vs. Olympiakos Piraeus (GRE)

While Olympiacos dominates the Greek league – 15 wins in 15 games with a 16.9 goals per game scoring average – they are ranked 6th in Group A, though they are just 3 points behind second seeded Eger. Still, it was a bit surprising how easily Barceloneta won in Athens, ending the struggle of the Spanish title-holders. Now the Greeks try to avenge their loss – it’s going to be an interesting clash, for sure, as Barceloneta still looks for their first win at home while Olympiacos has a draw and two losses in their away games. Barceloneta had something to cheer about recently as they won the Spanish Cup in the weekend.

“The match will be a very tricky one as we’re just back from playing the Royal Cup” Barceloneta’s head coach Chus Martin said. “That required playing three matches in three days, so we’ve had almost no time to rest and prepare for this match. Competitions like the Royal Cup are very demanding as it’s played with knock-out format and you have to produce a top performance in every match. On Wednesday we’ll need to make a huge effort to overcome Olympiacos. They’re a great team and they really need this win and this makes them even more dangerous. I’m hoping for a match that’s completely different from the one we played against them in Athens.”
The Greeks are aware that perhaps this is their last chance to save a chance to return to Barcelona in late May.

“Maybe this is the most difficult game for us in the prelims” Olympiacos’ head coach Theodoros Vlachos said. “We will play against the Champions League title-holders in their home and we need to win in order to save any hope for qualifying to the Final Six.”

The Greeks’ Spanish player, Blai Mallarach gave the following statement: “This is a very important game for us. We have to win in order to stay in the race for the Final Six. It will be a tough game as Barceloneta has much confidence after their triumph in the Spanish Cup final.”

20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) vs. Pro Recco (ITA)

Recco might even lay back as they hold an 8-point lead – but knowing their team and the head coach Igor Milanovic, they will surely produce their very best in Brescia. However, it won’t be an easy cruise, even though they managed to beat their local arch-rivals 8-5 three weeks ago – and again 8-5 in the final of the Italian Cup three days ago. The final saw a rather tough battle, as usual, it stood 5-5 after three periods but Recco came up with a superb finish. Still, their only loss of the entire season came during the autumn here, in Brescia. And the current hosts will surely seek a win, as any points gained against Recco would mean a huge advantage over the others in this group.

Pro Recco’s head coach Igor Milanovic said: “We was strong in the weekend in the Italian Cup, we demonstrated that in the water. I hope to win again and we definitely go to Brescia for maximum result.”

Filip Filipovic, striker of Pro Recco: “I think it will be a tough game. We are two strong teams. Certainly they have a strong desire for taking revenge but we are Pro Recco and have no fear of anyone even if this game is a decisive one for Brescia.”

Classification:
1. Recco 18, 2. Eger 7, 3. Radnicki 6, 4. Brescia 5, 5. Barceloneta 5, 6. Olympiacos 3

Group B
18.00 Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade (SRB) vs. Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

With the group virtually tore apart as three teams have 12 points each and the other three stand with three points apiece, the qualification for the Final Six seems to be out of reach for those in the lower end. If Partizan wishes to reserve a slim hope they have to take revenge on Spandau – still, with two games to be played in Croatia in the later stages, the Serbs have to do a miracle to catch the train travelling to Barcelona. The Germans won against their main local rival Waspo Hannover in the weekend so they’ll arrive to Belgrade with a boost in their confidence.

19.00 Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) vs. Primorje Erste Banka Rijeka (CRO)

Though Jug has found it rather hard to beat Rijeka in recent years, perhaps time has come for a change – since the hosts will be led by a new coach on Wednesday. After a tie with Radnicki (SRB) in the Regional League on Saturday in Dubrovnik, the management opted to hire a new boss. Vjekoslav Kobescak, who led Mladost Zagreb to the European Cup final last year and worked under Ratko Rudic as an assistant coach when the Croats won the Olympics in 2012, will face a rather challenging task at first. One might say a start couldn’t have been any tougher for a new coach – the good news is that their captain, Niksa Dobud can return to the pool after serving his 2-match ban.

“We need to believe in ourselves” Vjekoslav Kobescak said at his opening press conference in Dubrovnik. “It is certain that the we are not in the best psychological shape, compared to the one required in such an ambitious club as Jug. The fact that we are playing against Primorje is not positive and I would never have chosen them for the first opponent. In this season they have shown the best water polo at European level. They have a strong defence, they are good swimmers, the team is playing on a really high level. But we have our advantages, too. The changing of coach can be a positive shock, and the team of Jug always has an obligation to play on the maximum of his in front of his fans in Dubrovnik.”

“Although the result of this game is not particularly important either for Jug or for Primorje, there is a huge will to take the victory at both sides” Ivan Asic, head coach of Primorje said. “Jug has some bad results in the championship, in addition we won our last two games. I am sure that they want to come up with something special in front of their audience with their new coach.”

20.00 Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) vs. Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN)

Even the demolishing 7-1 rush in the third period cannot scratch the first half of the participants’ memories: three weeks ago the Turks produced one of their best showings and led in Szolnok in the middle break, before the hosts started to roll. The big question whether Galata’s Serbian-Montenegrin mix have enough reserves to stay on equal terms with Szolnok even for the fourth period. The Hungarians will surely look for tiring the key-members of their opponent, though in Istanbul they will play without their huge centre-forward, Gabor Kis.

“As time goes by and more matches are left behind, Galatasaray is getting better and better” Szolnok head coach Sandor Cseh said. “They have eight southern Slavonic players in their lineup. Since only two foreign players can take part in the national championship they are fresher and better conditioned in the Champions League games. According to the news they want to cause a big surprise. Anyway, our goal is to win the encounter.”

Marton Toth, player of Szolnok: “It won’t be easy playing against Galatasaray. A few weeks ago they proved it in Szolnok that they were a good team, they even held the lead in the first half. They probably want to prove something in front of their home spectators so they will play with double effort. Our centre-forward, Gabor Kis cannot be with us, but we will do our best as we must win in Istanbul. If we can add three more points to our tally then we will be very close to reach the Final Six.”

Classification:
1. Primorje 12, 2. Szolnok 12, 3. Jug 12, 4. Partizan 3, 5. Galatasaray 3, 6. Spandau 3

Balazs Harai added: “We were disappointed after the match in Kragujevac. We played quite dumbly there, still, we shouldn’t have lost that game. We are preparing for Wednesday with full speed to prove to our fans that the previous result was only an accident. We are going to win.”

One of the younger players, Balint Lorincz said: “Our long-term goal hasn’t changed: we want to be in the Final Six in Barcelona. So we can’t allow any more mistakes. We want to win at home and we will. I am sure that a lot of people are coming to watch the game and cheer for us, which would be a huge help for the team.”

In the other camp head coach Uros Stevanovic said: “This game is very important for both teams because anyone winning this match will get very close to the Final Six. We expect a difficult game, like it was in Kragujevac.”

19.15 CN Barceloneta (ESP) vs. Olympiakos Piraeus (GRE)

While Olympiacos dominates the Greek league – 15 wins in 15 games with a 16.9 goals per game scoring average – they are ranked 6th in Group A, though they are just 3 points behind second seeded Eger. Still, it was a bit surprising how easily Barceloneta won in Athens, ending the struggle of the Spanish title-holders. Now the Greeks try to avenge their loss – it’s going to be an interesting clash, for sure, as Barceloneta still looks for their first win at home while Olympiacos has a draw and two losses in their away games. Barceloneta had something to cheer about recently as they won the Spanish Cup in the weekend.

“The match will be a very tricky one as we’re just back from playing the Royal Cup” Barceloneta’s head coach Chus Martin said. “That required playing three matches in three days, so we’ve had almost no time to rest and prepare for this match. Competitions like the Royal Cup are very demanding as it’s played with knock-out format and you have to produce a top performance in every match. On Wednesday we’ll need to make a huge effort to overcome Olympiacos. They’re a great team and they really need this win and this makes them even more dangerous. I’m hoping for a match that’s completely different from the one we played against them in Athens.”
The Greeks are aware that perhaps this is their last chance to save a chance to return to Barcelona in late May.

“Maybe this is the most difficult game for us in the prelims” Olympiacos’ head coach Theodoros Vlachos said. “We will play against the Champions League title-holders in their home and we need to win in order to save any hope for qualifying to the Final Six.”

The Greeks’ Spanish player, Blai Mallarach gave the following statement: “This is a very important game for us. We have to win in order to stay in the race for the Final Six. It will be a tough game as Barceloneta has much confidence after their triumph in the Spanish Cup final.”

20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) vs. Pro Recco (ITA)

Recco might even lay back as they hold an 8-point lead – but knowing their team and the head coach Igor Milanovic, they will surely produce their very best in Brescia. However, it won’t be an easy cruise, even though they managed to beat their local arch-rivals 8-5 three weeks ago – and again 8-5 in the final of the Italian Cup three days ago. The final saw a rather tough battle, as usual, it stood 5-5 after three periods but Recco came up with a superb finish. Still, their only loss of the entire season came during the autumn here, in Brescia. And the current hosts will surely seek a win, as any points gained against Recco would mean a huge advantage over the others in this group.

Pro Recco’s head coach Igor Milanovic said: “We was strong in the weekend in the Italian Cup, we demonstrated that in the water. I hope to win again and we definitely go to Brescia for maximum result.”

Filip Filipovic, striker of Pro Recco: “I think it will be a tough game. We are two strong teams. Certainly they have a strong desire for taking revenge but we are Pro Recco and have no fear of anyone even if this game is a decisive one for Brescia.”

Classification:
1. Recco 18, 2. Eger 7, 3. Radnicki 6, 4. Brescia 5, 5. Barceloneta 5, 6. Olympiacos 3

Group B
18.00 Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade (SRB) vs. Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

With the group virtually tore apart as three teams have 12 points each and the other three stand with three points apiece, the qualification for the Final Six seems to be out of reach for those in the lower end. If Partizan wishes to reserve a slim hope they have to take revenge on Spandau – still, with two games to be played in Croatia in the later stages, the Serbs have to do a miracle to catch the train travelling to Barcelona. The Germans won against their main local rival Waspo Hannover in the weekend so they’ll arrive to Belgrade with a boost in their confidence.

19.00 Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) vs. Primorje Erste Banka Rijeka (CRO)

Though Jug has found it rather hard to beat Rijeka in recent years, perhaps time has come for a change – since the hosts will be led by a new coach on Wednesday. After a tie with Radnicki (SRB) in the Regional League on Saturday in Dubrovnik, the management opted to hire a new boss. Vjekoslav Kobescak, who led Mladost Zagreb to the European Cup final last year and worked under Ratko Rudic as an assistant coach when the Croats won the Olympics in 2012, will face a rather challenging task at first. One might say a start couldn’t have been any tougher for a new coach – the good news is that their captain, Niksa Dobud can return to the pool after serving his 2-match ban.

“We need to believe in ourselves” Vjekoslav Kobescak said at his opening press conference in Dubrovnik. “It is certain that the we are not in the best psychological shape, compared to the one required in such an ambitious club as Jug. The fact that we are playing against Primorje is not positive and I would never have chosen them for the first opponent. In this season they have shown the best water polo at European level. They have a strong defence, they are good swimmers, the team is playing on a really high level. But we have our advantages, too. The changing of coach can be a positive shock, and the team of Jug always has an obligation to play on the maximum of his in front of his fans in Dubrovnik.”

“Although the result of this game is not particularly important either for Jug or for Primorje, there is a huge will to take the victory at both sides” Ivan Asic, head coach of Primorje said. “Jug has some bad results in the championship, in addition we won our last two games. I am sure that they want to come up with something special in front of their audience with their new coach.”

20.00 Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) vs. Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN)

Even the demolishing 7-1 rush in the third period cannot scratch the first half of the participants’ memories: three weeks ago the Turks produced one of their best showings and led in Szolnok in the middle break, before the hosts started to roll. The big question whether Galata’s Serbian-Montenegrin mix have enough reserves to stay on equal terms with Szolnok even for the fourth period. The Hungarians will surely look for tiring the key-members of their opponent, though in Istanbul they will play without their huge centre-forward, Gabor Kis.

“As time goes by and more matches are left behind, Galatasaray is getting better and better” Szolnok head coach Sandor Cseh said. “They have eight southern Slavonic players in their lineup. Since only two foreign players can take part in the national championship they are fresher and better conditioned in the Champions League games. According to the news they want to cause a big surprise. Anyway, our goal is to win the encounter.”

Marton Toth, player of Szolnok: “It won’t be easy playing against Galatasaray. A few weeks ago they proved it in Szolnok that they were a good team, they even held the lead in the first half. They probably want to prove something in front of their home spectators so they will play with double effort. Our centre-forward, Gabor Kis cannot be with us, but we will do our best as we must win in Istanbul. If we can add three more points to our tally then we will be very close to reach the Final Six.”

Classification:
1. Primorje 12, 2. Szolnok 12, 3. Jug 12, 4. Partizan 3, 5. Galatasaray 3, 6. Spandau 3

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