Euro League, Final Four, Budapest (HUN) – Preview
Three chase first-ever trophy, Olympiacos looks for its second after 2015
The most prestigious trophy in women’s club competitions is at stake this weekend in Budapest. The Euro League Final Four features one former champion, Greece’s Olympiacos, two former LEN Trophy winners UVSE and Dunaujvaros, both from Hungary, and Russia’s Uralochka, which returns to the big stage after 14 years.
While Hungary is considered a superpower in water polo, among the women as well, it’s still a bit surprising fact that its clubs could clinch the most treasured trophy only once since the competition started in 1987 – and that happened 28 years ago (by Szentes, at its home pool in 1992). This season the Magyars have a double chance for the first time as their two top clubs UVSE and Dunaujvaros reached the Final Four.
The two sides’ biggest successes came in the LEN Trophy so far, UVSE claimed it in 2017, followed by Dunaujvaros’ triumph in 2018. In fact, these two were together in the LEN Trophy F4 in 2017, played in the same Tuske Pool where this season’s final takes place. That time they faced each other in the semis, now there is a chance for an in-house final but the other two rivals Olympiacos and Uralochka will have a word or two on this.
The two Hungarians ‘warmed up’ for the Euro League weekend with a thrilling three-match league final, UVSE bested its home arch-rival 2-1 so it’s fresh from this success while taking on Olympiacos in the first semi-final on Friday. When UVSE achieved its finest result in the Euro League back in 2016, the team managed to beat the Greeks also in the semis. Back then they staged a 5-1 rush in the last period to tie the game at 12-12 and won by penalties (then lost to Sabadell in the final).
Olympiacos, on the other hand, is by far the most successful participant in the current field as it played in this season-ending showcase 6 times (4x in the last five editions) and clinched the trophy in 2015 and was runner-up in 2017 and 2019. Ousting title-holder Sabadell (ESP) in the quarters showed the Greeks’ strength and they might as well be regarded the heaviest favourites for the title.
In the other semi two ‘long-time-no-see’ clubs meet each other. Dunaujvaros returns to the big stage after 2006, while Uralochka’s last adventure dates back to 2007. Dunaujvaros had five straight F4 appearances between 2002 and 2006 with one runner-up finish in 2003 as its best run.
Uralochka’s best effort is the same, the Russians were runners-up in 1992 and 2002 – and now they could catch the top flight by eliminating fellow Russian
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side, 2017-2018 champion Kirishi, a huge feat indeed. The two sides’ most recent clash from last year’s quarter-final round promises another thrilling encounter on Friday afternoon – last February it ended 11-11 in Dunaujvaros before the competition was suspended due to the pandemic.
Each game of the Final Four can be followed live on the LEN website both in streaming and in livescoring.
Euro League, Final Four – Schedule
12.15 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v UVSE-Hunguest Hotels (HUN) 14.45 Dunaujvarosi Foiskola (HUN) v Dynamo Uralochka (RUS)
Medal Round (Saturday)
17.45 Bronze medal match 20.15 Euro League Final
29 April 2021