Water Polo Champions League – 1st Qualification Round, summary
OSC Budapest and Mladost win groups
Hungary’s OSC Budapest made a triumphant return to the international stage by winning group A in Marseille, ahead of Spartak Volgograd (RUS), thanks to a better goal-difference. Mladost Zagreb (CRO) topped Group B in Herceg Novi with a clean sheet.
It was 36 years ago when OSC Budapest played in the Champions League (that time European Champions Cup) for the last time: back in 1978 they won the trophy. One might say ironically, they just continued the club’s unbeaten run, though none of their current players had even been born that time. After a 9-9 draw on the opening day with Euro Cup winner Spartak Volgograd (RUS), the Hungarian side – contracting 11 new players for this season – won four out of four and clinched the first place due to their better goal-difference (+32 to Spartak’s +22). Their defence worked especially well, conceded just 29 goals, their march included a 10-1 win over Posillipo Napoli (ITA).
The Russians also did a fine job as they beat the other four rivals including Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB). The Serbs were runners-up last season in the Champions League but after having lost their two most prolific goal-scorers (Filip Filipovic and Boris Zlokovic) they seemed to have less potential in offence.
Just as Spartak, the other Euro Cup finalist also shone in the weekend: runner-up Mladost Zagreb (CRO) produced a clean sheet in Herceg Novi. The young Croatian team – backed by the world-class veteran goalie, Josip Pavic – did a fine job by winning all their matches. The second place went to a Russian side in this group as well, Sintez Kazan finished just behind the Croats while hosts Jadran (MNE) came third. Last season Champions League participant Digi Oradea (ROU) qualified without a win though they had three draws in their five encounters.
At this stage only the last-placed sides were ousted: Ligamus Tbilisi (GEO) and Montpellier (FRA) finished their Champions League campaign in this round.
The next phase is going to be much tougher as the ten promoted sides join Primorje Rijeka (CRO), ASC Duisburg (GER), Szolnok (HUN), Pro Recco (ITA), Crvena zvezda (SRB) and Yumze Istanbul (TUR) and are going to be drawn into four groups of four and only the best two of each quartet will reach the final play-off.
Champions League, Qualification Round 1
Group A (Marseille)
1. OSC Budapest 13 (61-29), 2. Spartak Volgograd (RUS) 13 (68-46), 3. Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) 9, 4. Marseille (FRA) 6, 5. Posillipo Napoli (ITA) 3, 6. Ligamus Tbilisi (GEO) 0
Group B (Herceg Novi)
1. Mladost (CRO) 15, 2. Sintez Kazan (RUS), 3. Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) 7, 4. Hannover (GER) 4, 5. Oradea (ROU) 3, 6. Montpellier (FRA)
Round II will be played on 17-19 October. The draw will be conducted on Monday (29 Sept) in the LEN Office.