LEN PR 29/2015
Women’s Euro League, Final Four, Athens – Preview
Sabadell is ready to go for a hat-trick
Greece, Hungary, Russia and Spain: four leading nations in women’s water polo – represented by their top clubs in the Euro League Final Four, which is a guarantee for a perfect entertainment on Friday and Saturday in Athens (GRE).
Sabadell is on the verge of repeating the feat of Orizzonte Catania. Italy’s legendary team is the only one in the history of this competition (earlier called Champions Cup) which managed to do a hat-trick, winning the trophy in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The Spaniards won the last two editions (and also in 2011) and they are the top favourites this time as well.
Among the women, Spain is the ruling nation in recent years at all levels, their national team was runner-up in the 2012 Olympics, then won the world title in 2013 and clinched the European crown in 2014. And many participants of these successes also play for Sabadell, including the last two LEN Award winners, Jennifer Pareja and Maria Garcia.
Sabadell faces a dangerous rival, though: the newcomer from Hungary, UVSE-Central. The club from Budapest has built a new team, the players have great international pedigree, Rita Keszthelyi usually finishes in the top three scorers of the biggest tournaments while Gabriella Szucs returned home after playing long years in Sabadell, also serving as a fine information-source on their semi-final opponent.
Host Olympiacos are going for a rare double: the Greeks won the LEN Trophy last season, now they wish to add the Euro League title to their tally. Besides the excellent and experienced Greek players, fine foreigners help the club to reach the top for the first time in their history. If they succeed, Olympiacos would become the second club whose men’s and women’s team could earn the biggest European honours – Recco (ITA) achieved that earlier. (The men team of Olympiacos won in 2002.) However, the Greeks need to reach the final first which they could never make in their previous three appearances; their best showing was a 3rd place in 2011.
Olympiacos will clash with Kinef Kirishi – the Russians, who are about to finish their miserable run in the season-ending showcase. Kinef is the most misfortunate team in the history of the Final Four, they lost three finals in a row between 2005 and 2007, two more in 2010 and in 2013 (the last one to Sabadell) and failed on three other occasions in the semis, so they couldn’t go all the way in 8 Final Four appearances. Almost equal with the Russian national team, Kinef is a rather strong contender again – time will tell whether they could cast out their demons.
Euro Leauge, Final Four
18.30 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) vs. Kinef Surgutneftegas Kirishi (RUS)
20.15 UVSE-Central (HUN) vs. CN Sabadell (ESP)
18.30 Bronze Medal Game
20.15 Euro League Final