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Big time at the Adriatic

Champions League, Main Round, Day 2 – Preview, Quotes, Facts&Figures
Within 24 hours, two big matches are to be played alongside the Adriatic coast in the second round of the Champions League. First, title-holder Recco visit Split on Tuesday, then F8 participant Marseille clash with Jug in Dubrovnik on Wednesday. Also, the rematch of last year’s bronze medal game between Brescia and Ferencvaros promises some extra excitements.

As Recco’s Croatian centre-forward Luca Loncar put it, the title-holders have not been used to chasing others in the rankings but now this the case. After Recco were downed by Olympiacos in the opening round, the Italian giant is under pressure to win this following match. But it’s going to be another tough test as Jadran is getting stronger and stronger and in Split they can pose a threat to anyone (the last time Recco lost back-to-back matches in the League dates back to 2014 when they finished last in the Final Six.)

The other ‘big boys’ in Group A seem to have an easier task, though Olympiacos need to erase some bad memories as they stunningly lost in Tbilisi last season when they were counted out from the race for the Final Eight. Barceloneta should be sharp but beating Vouliagmeni even in Athens should not be an extraordinary challenge. The clash of Radnicki and Hannover is crucial since behind the big three, Recco, Barceloneta and Olympiacos, these two sides are considered the top contenders for the fourth qualifying spot.

Group B will offer some thrilling matchups too. Jug took a disastrous start and lost by five goals to Brescia, and it won’t be any easier against Marseille. Last season the French surprised them in Dubrovnik, though Jug hit back in the last round of the prelims, only to lose to them once more in the F8 in the game played for the 7th place.

On that day FTC and Brescia met later, for the bronze, and the Hungarians won by the very same scoreline (14-12) as a year earlier in the semi-final. These two have always been entangled into outstanding battles in recent years, so this upcoming one is a must-see encounter for all water polo fans.

Runner-up Novi Beograd took a flying start in Berlin and now play at home with the other Hungarian representative OSC, which were seconds away from upsetting Marseille on the opening day. The Serbs are the favourites, but the Magyars will have a word or two. In Sabadell two losing sides face off, Spandau arrive in much better shape than they had had two weeks ago, when most of their players just recovered from Covid.

Watch all the games in LEN TV, for free live streaming and more visit www.championsleague.len.eu

Fixtures, Day 2

Group A
16.45 (13.45 CET) Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
19.00 (18.00 CET) NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) v Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP)
19.00 Jadran Split (CRO) v Pro Recco (ITA)
20.30 Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

Group B
19.00 Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)
19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v CN Marseille (FRA)
19.45 Novi Beograd (SRB) v Genesys OSC-Budapest (HUN)
20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)

Pre-game quotes

Group A
16.45 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)

Dejan Stanojevic, coach, Dinamo
“Our next game is with Olympiacos, a team which didn’t meet the expectations last season and they kept the whole team and brought two more new top players and bring also a new head coach. Their president stood in front of the team and set the goal to be the Champions of Europe this season. We will have a chance to see fantastic players and a fantastic team here in Tbilisi. We had a lot of problems in the past ten days because we were not complete for a single practice as a virus attacked the team, players had fever. However, our obligation is to show in every game that we are improving we have progress in all game segments. Discipline, motivation, energy, patience, swimming must be on the highest level in every game.

Jovan Saric, player, Dinamo
“I can only say that we are a new team with some new players and for sure we need time to put everything on the level we want to achieve. Even in the first game against Barceloneta, we showed a certain quality. As for Olympiacos, they are almost identical with the Greek national team with few foreigners who are almost the best in the world in their positions, what they already showed in the first game against Pro Recco. Our goal is to give our maximum every game, to progress as a team.”

Igor Milanovic, coach, Olympiacos
“In the first game against Pro Recco, we had a good performance and we won the match. We want to do the same in Tbilisi against Dinamo. We have to remain focused with our game and show in the pool the hard work we do every day in training.”

Marco Bijac, goalie, Olympiacos
“Last season we made a lot of mistakes in Georgia, against Dinamo, so we have to be very careful tomorrow. I believe we are ready, we have prepared well, we are all healthy and that is the most important thing. We want to put in a similar performance what we had against Pro Recco, to continue our winning streak. Certainly, we have a lot to improve during the season. However, tomorrow is a good chance for us to get our second win in the Champions League. We will give our 100%, we will do everything, to return with a positive result to Greece.”

19.00 (18.00 CET) NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) v Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP)

Vladimir Vujasinovic, coach, Vouliagmeni
“We are very satisfied that we are in a position to play against one of the best teams in Europe. Our goal in the Champions League, as in every game so far, is to play the best we can at this moment.”

Dimitris Tzortzatos, player, Vouliagmeni
“First, I have to say that Barceloneta is a really strong opponent. In my opinion, they have more quality in their roster than our previous opponents. We respect them a lot and we are aware that in the group stage of Champions League all the matches are tough. However, we believe that our squad is also good and well balanced. Our goal is to try to improve our style of play and to achieve the best result we can get in every single game. So, we will try to win. We know that we are not the favourites in this game, but if we play our best, I think we have a chance.”

Elvis Fatovic, coach, Barceloneta
“Our next game in the Champions League will be really hard. NC Vouliagmeni is a rising team, Greek water polo is famous for being technically good. They played a good game in Serbia. We expect an interesting match.”

Martin Famera, player, Barceloneta
“Vouliagmeni is a good team, one of the best in Greece. We haven’t played with them for a long time. So we need to prepare well, above all in defence because they have dangerous shooters. We need to give our best.”

Alberto Munarriz, player, Barceloneta
“For us, this is an important game. Our previous one in Tbilisi was difficult even though we finished the game with a good result. This will be the second game we play away from home. We need to go for the three points, we need to win. We know we face a team which play their first game at home, who will play organised and will be prepared for us. We need to start with a high rhythm and play our game.”

19.00 Jadran Split (CRO) v Pro Recco (ITA)

Mile Smodlaka, coach, Jadran
“We lost in the Super Cup against Jug, now we have won two games in Zagreb in the Regional League and lost one against Novi Beograd. My team played a lot of games so far and we are a bit tired, but that cannot be an excuse, we have to have a great game against Pro Recco. The Italian team has a Croatian coach Sandro Sukno, a legend from Jug whom I also played with in my playing years. I’m happy to have a chance to play against such a good team and I hope to have a big crowd in the stands.”

Dean Savicevic, sport director, Jadran
“They are the European Champions. A team that has the strongest roster and, together with Olympiacos and Novi Beograde, are favourites to win the title again. They lost to Olympiacos in the first round, they will come with an imperative to win. They have put together the Italian national team members with American centre Hallock and our former centre Loncar. They have the national team’s goalkeeper, it is a big challenge for us in our pool. We will try to play a game on the highest level. We played in the Regional League in Zagreb, it was a good tournament, we were close to get a point against the great team of Novi Beograd.
Mistakes must be limited to the minimum, we need to control the ball. They play a good defence, so we must also have a strong defence.”

Sandro Sukno, coach, Pro Recco
„We know that a difficult match awaits us, Jadran are a very organised and aggressive team and in their pool they always play better. After the defeat in Athens, we want to take the first three points and do everything to return to Recco with the victory.”

Luka Loncar, player, Pro Recco
„It’s a particular moment for us, we’re not used to chasing others in the ranking and for this reason we have to go and win in Split. To achieve this, we will need to play a high-level game because we face a team that is very fearsome, especially at home: they have three players who won the Europeans in Split a few months ago, an Olympic champion with great international experience. It will be tough, they want to qualify for the Final Eight but we are used to this type of matches.”

20.30 Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

Uros Stevanovic, coach, Radnicki
“This is a very important game for us. After losing two points in the first round against Vouliagmeni, we must not allow more failures. We made a very good preparations for this game in the Regional League tournament. Game by game, we played better and better and I hope that our form will continue to rise against Hannover. Fatigue must not exist, we must give our maximum in order to win and continue the path we are on now.”

Lazar Dobozanov, goalkeeper, Radnicki
“The Regional League tournament helped us to raise our form and confidence before the very important match against Hannover. We have to win to keep our chances alive for the F8. Hannover is an experienced team that deserves respect, but I think that in our pool we are the favourites and we should set the pace.”

Karsten Seehafer, coach, Hannover
“We will play away, and we can only win. At this moment, we are able to play with two faces, fantastic and incredibly bad. But Radnicki can do this too, so we hope to have a good game.”

Fynn Schütze, player, Hannover
“Radnicki plays agile defence and engages with a good mix of young and experienced players. We are well prepared and fit, Viva Waspo!”

Hrvoje Benic, player, Hannover
“I think Radnicki is one of the teams that play the most beautiful water polo. Everything revolves around Vrlic, who is certainly one of the best centre-forwards in the world. The strongest part of their game is their extremely aggressive defence, and this is how they win games. If we are aggressive enough and patient in attack, we can expect good things in Serbia…”

Group B
19.00 Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

Quim Colet, coach, Sabadell
“The team have been working very well all these days, especially considering that the week before we had our debut in the Champions League and the Super Cup final. In the Spanish league so far we have not lost any game and we are the leaders, and this can help us a lot to approach the Wednesday game against Spandau, where the team have to try to win the first game of the competition.”

Lluc Bertran, player, Sabadell
“I have to say that we are very excited to play in the Champions League again. After the debut against Ferencsvaros, where the team showed a very good level, we had a bad match against Pro Recco in the final of the European Super Cup. For this reason, we want to make our fans happy and try to get the first victory in the group stage.”

Athanasios Kechagias, coach, Spandau
The game in Sabadell is very important for us. We have overcome our wave of illness and were able to train together last week. Sabadell has a strong team with many national team players who became world champions this year. My team will do everything to make it difficult for Sabadell and play a very good game.”

Dmitrii Kholod, player, Spandau
“Spandau has a new team this year compared to last season. We are not travelling to Sabadell to give away presents. Sabadell is a strong team, but we will show them what we are capable of and that it will take a lot of strength to beat us.”

19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v CN Marseille (FRA)

Vjekoslav Kobescak, coach, Jug
„After a very bad start to the season, we no longer have the right to make mistakes. By winning the Croatian Super Cup, we regained faith in ourselves, and I think the match on Wednesday will show our true face.“

Filip Krzic, player, Jug
„Marseille is a great team that beat us last season in Gruz. We played bad in the first game against Brescia and were deservedly defeated and now we have to do everything to get the first victory in the Champions League.. “

Milos Scepanovic, coach, Marseille
„Jug is a very good team, we are aware of their high potential. The three points are essential as much for Jug as for us. I think that we will have a very intense match and two teams which will not let the game go at any stage. I believe in my team.“

Michael Bodegas, player, Marseille
„Jug is a young team but thanks to the experience gained this summer with the Croatian national team and the support of the more experienced players make them one of the candidates for the Final 8. It is important to note that Jug’s coach is also on the staff of the France team, he knows our players well. Winning in their historic swimming pool is a real challenge for all European teams. We will have to be attentive to their individuals without losing our game identity. The psychological approach to this match is the key, we must be ready for all scenarios and highlight our collective qualities to win this battle. At this time of the season, it is important for us to consolidate our system of play and build confidence for the rest of the season.“

19.45 Novi Beograd (SRB) v Genesys OSC-Budapest (HUN)

Zivko Gocic, coach, NBG
“We’ve just returned from Zagreb where we earned nine points from three games in the Regional League, and that was very important for us in this moment. We showed improvement in our game and that is a good sign ahead of our next game in the Champions league. That will be the first one in our pool this season, and we will try to do our best to win it. We have a huge respect for the Hungarian team. We know their qualities very well, for a long period of time they’ve been playing together and also the same coach worked with the team for three years in a row. It is going to be a very tough match for sure, but we believe in ourselves, and I hope that we will claim three more points in this game.”

Radomir Drasovic, player, NBG
“We play our first home game in the Champions League against OSC Budapest. This is a very important match for us, and I am sure that it will be very hard, because they have a quality team. We know them very well, we analysed them very precisely and their style of play. They have very good individuals, and also play so strongly as a team. Last weekend was very hard for us because we played three games in only three days. We played very well in the tournament in Zagreb, and I hope that we will be well prepared for the game against OSC Budapest as well.”

Daniel Varga, coach, OSC
“One of the best teams await us in Belgrade, so it will be very tough game. Our goal is to play a close and quality match from the beginning in which, if we have the chance, we may take points from Novi Beograd.”

Marton Toth, player, OSC
“It’s going to be a very difficult game because Novi Beograd is a top team with excellent Serbian and foreign players. They are one of the teams who have a great chance to win the trophy. Our performance in Marseille was good at times, we played very well, so we don’t have any other goal than winning in Belgrade. It’s going to be a tough and super physical game!”

20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)

Alessandro Bovo, coach, Brescia
“It will be a great game as they have a lot of young players. We did very well in the first game, and we are preparing for this one very well. We met a lot with Ferencvaros in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing this match.”

Jacopo Alesiani, player, Brescia
“Ferencvaros is a very strong team, they have been boosted a lot. It will be a tough and physical game. We’re preparing for this match very well in order to be ready. We are working a lot on our defence, maybe we did some mistakes in some matches, but we are focused to do our best.”

Zsolt Varga, coach, FTC
“We are going to Italy to get three important points, however, it is always hard to play against Brescia. Usually, they start their season at a high level, which holds true this year as well. Their first-round game in Dubrovnik was convincing. We started and finished the last Champions League season against Brescia, though there is no use to make comparisons today with what happened in the past. They changed just like us, so it will be a hard job to win in Brescia.”

Toni Nemet, player, FTC
“Brescia has always made a headache even for the best teams in the Champions League, therefore we are expecting a really hard game against them. We tried to practice our tactics in the Hungarian Cup against BVSC with partial success. I would only be satisfied with winning this game in Italy, we will try our best not to disappoint our supporters and ourselves.”

Facts and Figures

Group A
Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
Day 1: Dinamo v Barceloneta 8-14 – Olympiacos v Recco 9-7
Recent encounters
2021-22: 9-20, 14-13

NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) v Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP)
Day 1: Radnicki v Vouliagmeni 9-9 – Dinamo v Barceloneta 8-14
Recent encounters
Never met in CL

Jadran Split (CRO) v Pro Recco (ITA)
Day 1: Hannover v Jadran 8-10 – Olympiacos v Recco 9-7
Recent encounters
Never met in CL

Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)
Day 1: Radnicki v Vouliagmeni 9-9 – Hannover v Jadran 8-10
Recent encounters
Never met in CL

Group B
Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)
Day 1: Sabadell v FTC 7-10 – Spandau v Novi B. 5-16
Recent encounters
2017-18: 9-11, 8-11

Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v CN Marseille (FRA)
Day 1: Jug v Brescia 8-13 – Marseille v OSC 10-10
Recent encounters
2021-22: 9-14, 13-12, for 7-8th: 13-15. 2020-21: 11-10, 13-15, for 5-8th: 16-13

Novi Beograd (SRB) v Genesys OSC-Budapest (HUN)
Day 1: Spandau v Novi B. 5-16 – Marseille v OSC 10-10
Recent encounters
Never met in CL

AN Brescia (ITA) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)
Day 1: Jug v Brescia 8-13 – Sabadell v FTC 7-10
Recent encounters
2021-22: 8-8, 6-8, bronze medal: 12-14. 2020-21: 9-6, 10-7, semi-final: 12-14. 2018-19: 8-8, 10-5
28 November 2022

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