Recco (ITA) makes history, wins 8th title
Recco celebrated the 50th anniversary of their first European title in style: with a record-breaking 8th trophy. They are the first team in history who could capture the most prestigious club trophy eight times. The Italians were forced to play the tightest matches of the season here, but they passed the tests: in the final they beat Rijeka 8-7.
Recco finished its 2014/15 campaign with a perfect score-sheet, they won 17 out of 17 in the Champions League, including the qualification matches – but the last two victories requires tremendous efforts from the Italian giant. While they comfortably sailed through the prelims, in the Final Six they were forced to fight till the very end to return to the European throne after three years.
In the semis they met title-holder Barceloneta (ESP) as the Spanish had upset Hungary’s new champions, Szolnok on Day 1, beating them in the penalty-shootout. In the prelims Recco blew away the Spaniards on both occasions – but not this time. The hosts gave their very best again, led 9-7 deep into the third period and even if Recco managed to retake the lead in the fourth, Barceloneta levelled the score soon. Still, despite the heroic efforts of the Spanish, Recco finally prevailed, thanks to Dusko Pijetlovic’s goal with 6 seconds from time.
The final turned out to be the rematch of the 2012 gold medal game as Primorje Rijeka (CRO) overcame its fellow Croatian rival, Jug Dubrovnik in the semis. It was the 11th meet of the two powerhouses of the Adriatic coast in this season, and Rijeka won for the 7th time. Jug, beating Eger (HUN) on Day 1 (thus setting up a bitter all-Hungarian consolation game for the 5-6th places), fought bravely and was close to surprise Primorje but in the key-moments they missed their chances.
Jug later finished 4th as the ‘shooting parade’ in the 26-goal bronze medal game saw Barceloneta having a bit more left in the tank.
The final was as thrilling as expected: Rijeka jumped to a 3-1 lead after the first eight minutes, Recco hit back in the second, at half-time it stood 3-3. The Italians began to dominate in the third, they could harm Primorje’s defence more and more and were 7-5 up before the final period. Rijeka still had the chance but they struggled in man-up, missing 5 in a row just in the first half of the fourth quarter. Even though they pulled one back a bit later, Pietro Figlioli’s blast virtually ended the contest, Sandro Sukno’s goal came far too late with only 21 seconds remaining (7-8).
The Final Six featured the six best teams, indeed: five of the seven games were decided by a single goal (one in the shootout), the remaining two saw just a two-goal gap at the end.
Felipe Perrone was elected the Most Valuable Player of the Final Six Tournament: Barceloneta’s Brazilian-born player had the lion’s share of pushing the Spaniards to the bronze-medal as he scored 10 goals in the 3 games they played in the last three days. Barceloneta retained this title as last year Albert Espanol’s name was engraved to the side of the trophy.
Alongside Recco’s record-breaking 8th title, another historical individual record has been set on Saturday: Recco’s Maurizio Felugo was member of a Champions League winning side for the 6th time, tying Djordje Perisic’s feat who was 6-time winner with Partizan (YUG) between 1964 and 1976. Felugo won one trophy with Posillipo and five with Recco.
The top scorer of the entire Champions League season is Denes Varga from Szolnok (HUN) with 28 goals.
Upon the occasion of this great event, the first 2014 LEN Awards for Europe’s best athletes were presented on poolside. Last year’s best in water polo, Filip Filipovic (SRB) and Maria Garcia (ESP) received their respective trophies, just as the most outstanding synchro swimmer, Ona Carbonell (ESP). The awards were handed over by LEN President Paolo Barelli.
Champions League, Final Six – Barcelona (ESP)
Day 1, Crossovers
ZF Eger (HUN) vs. Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) 8-10
CN Barceloneta (ESP) vs. Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) 6-6, pen: 4-3
Day 2, Semi-finals
Jug Dubrovnik (CRO) vs. Primorje Erste Banka Rijeka (CRO) 9-10
Barceloneta (ESP) vs. Pro Recco (ITA) 11-12
For places 5-6: Eger (HUN) vs. Szolnok (HUN) 8-7
Day 3, Final Round
Bronze medal game: Jug Dubrovnik (CRO) vs. Barceloneta (ESP) 12-14
Final: Primorje Rijeka (CRO) vs. Pro Recco (ITA) 7-8
Check out the LEN Channel on dailymotion.com for exclusive interviews and game-highlights!