2020 LEN Champions League Water Polo
- Qualifying: November 11-15, 2020
- Preliminary Round 1: December 14-18, 2020
- Preliminary Round 2: March 1-5, 2021
- Preliminary Round 3: April 19-23, 2021
- Final 8: June 3-5, 2021
- Match results
The LEN Champions League is a high-level European water polo competition. The league has been running since 1963, though the 2020 season was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020-2021 season breaks up qualifying (November 2020) and the first round of group play (December 2020) in the year 2020, before continuing with the second round of group play (March 2021) and third round of group play (April 2021) in the spring. The season will conclude with the final 8 matching up in early June of 2021.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, the league will run each round of its matches in a bubble setting. Group A features six teams and Group B six more teams. They’ll play sets of matches on consecutive days within their groups, with the top four in each group across the preliminary rounds advancing to the final 8 tournament.
Preliminary Round 1 – Day 1
With just three matches today, only Group A was in action, competing at their Rome, Italy bubble. (Group B will play their bubble starting tomorrow in Budapest, Hungary).
But 2019 runners-up Olympiacos started off with a win, downing CC Ortigia 6-4. Olympiacos goalkeeper Emmanouil Zerdevas blocked 11 of 15 Ortigia shots on goal, while his Ortigia counterpart Stefano Tempesti stopped just 6 of 12 shots on goal.
Ortigia jumped out to an early lead, with Simone Rossi scoring only about two and a half minutes into the first period. They would go up 2-2, but Olympiaco roared back with three unanswered goals. Things were still close with a 5-4 Olympiaco lead with about four minutes to go in the fourth period, but a Marios Kapotsis goal put his crew up 6-4 and they’d hold that lead the rest of the way.
Jug Adriatic Osig. beat Spandau 04 Berlin 13-7 in the day’s other matchup.
Tomorrow will be a much busier day, with matches on the docket. The Group A teams will play again, and the six Group B teams will also play in Budapest, Hungary.
Theodoros Vlachos, coach, Olympiacos:
“It is a big and important win for us. I was worried because we were the favourites and Ortigia had nothing to lose. They had some great wins in the qualifications. We practically haven’t played a game for two months, that’s why we had some problems at the beginning but we then managed to regroup ourselves. We had a good control of the game, good defence. They have a great goalie, Stefano is always good. I’m satisfied with the three points as it is always important to win the first match.”
Konstantinos Mourikis, captain, Olympiacos:
“It was a difficult game where we had a bat start. Ortigia is a good and strong team. This is a big win for us. We will watch Spandau and take the following matches day by day. For us, it is important to finally play again since this is our first match in months.”
Stefano Piccardo, coach, Ortigia:
“This was a historic match for the club, the first Champions League game in its entire 92 years of its history. We made technical mistakes in various aspects of the game, especially in our man-ups. Olympiacos is an experienced team. It is an honour for us to play the Champions League. Tomorrow we face Recco, we will give our best.”
Simone Rossi, player, Ortigia:
“We can only regret what happened… We wanted so badly to win this match and clinch our first 3 points. They are a much more experienced team, got used to play these kind of games. We are newcomers. Tomorrow we face Recco with our heads high.”
Valentino Gallo, player, Ortigia:
“We wanted to do better in this historic match for Ortigia. They know how to play this type of games. We were victims of our own inexperience. Tomorrow it will be even harder against Recco, it will be another difficult game. We have to forget today and concentrate on tomorrow’s match against Recco.”
Spandau (GER) v Jug (CRO) 7-13
Petar Kovacevic, coach, Spandau:
“We haven’t played a match in 78 days, not even a practice match, nothing. Still, I don’t let that be an alibi for us. First of all, we lost because of sports reasons. In the first half we lacked rhythm, our reactions were slow so the final result is acceptable to us. Tomorrow we face an opponent known for its control of the game. If we let them do that the result will be pretty much the same. We’ll see what we can do in 24 hours.”
Stefan Pjesivac, player, Spandau:
“The last time we played a match was in September against Hannover. We completely lost our rhythm, got hit by Covid19 and maybe had three trainings together. We must learn from today’s match, give our best tomorrow and step on from there.”
Vjekoslav Kobescak, coach, Jug:
“It was a match to be expected, given the situation in Germany. We pushed hard in the first half then slowly closed the match and slowed down a bit in the second in view of our tomorrow’s match against Marseille. They are in a very good position, they played many matches in their own league.”
Luka Loncar, player, Jug:
“I must say first and foremost that we are absolutely happy to finally start playing the Champions League again, no matter what the conditions are. Today we had a good match, I am happy how we started this tournament. I hope for another good one tomorrow.”
Pro Recco (ITA) v CN Marseille (FRA) 11-9
Gabriel Hernandez, coach, Recco:
“This is a new situation for all of us and it is normal that we didn’t start off the best. They are a very strong and diverse group of players. It was a really difficult game. However, we reacted very well with courage and proved that we are mentally strong when it counts. Next is Ortigia. They swim a lot, have good defence – and Stefano Tempesti.”
Aleksandar Ivovic, captain, Recco:
“I would like to congratulate my team. I was not expecting an easy match even if everyone was pushing us as favourites. They are an excellent group of players including great strong individuals and up and coming French players. We had some periods when we lost our concentration but at the end we managed to score a victory. It is an excellent incentive for the matches to come.”
Milos Scepanovic, coach, Marseille:
“We played an excellent match and gave our best tonight. We managed to force our game on Recco, which is a huge thing. We made some mistakes, were maybe too emotional but we are in a process of building a team. We have to take away only positive emotions from this match, though it is not easy to do that since we were leading against the best team in the world.
Now we have to recover quickly and try to do the same as we did tonight against Jug.”
Andrija Prlainovic, player, Marseille:
“It was an excellent opening match. We were on top for the first 20 minutes, later on we weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be when playing against a top team like Recco. We were lacking some little things to reach a tie at least.”
Arshak Havhannisyan, goalie, Marseille:
“We started well, were aggressive and played well in defence. We then made some mistakes that ultimately cost us a win or at least a tie. They are an experienced team which knows how to punish those mistakes. After all, Recco is one of the best teams in the world. Jug is not like Recco, they are also experienced but if we play strong in defence we have a chance to win.”