Courtesy: LEN Media
It’s judgement day for Jug (CRO), Brescia (ITA) and Dynamo (RUS): their race for the Final Eight will end on Wednesday but only two of them could join the other six sides which have already secured their respective berths for the June 7-9 showcase in Genoa.
The last day of the prelims promise great excitements for three teams in Group A and two of them will face each other. 2016 winner and last year runner-up Jug has had some ups and downs in the current season, their struggle started right on the opening day when they suffered a somewhat shocking defeat in Moscow. Newcomer Dynamo proved its strength in the following rounds, still, the Russians now need a smaller miracle now: a win in Dubrovnik. That would send them straight to the Final Eight as the results against Jug would favour them in case of equal points. However, beating the Croats in Dubrovnik is one of the toughest challenges in water polo: in the past four years only Recco was able to do that in the Champions League (last season), Jug remained unbeaten on the other 20 occasions.
At the same time, Dynamo has only one away loss so far in the prelims, on Day 2 Olympiacos beat them, later they managed to have draws in Barceloneta and Brescia as well. A draw this time would set up an interesting scenario: the tie would send Jug through, while Dynamo would only have a chance if Brescia loses to Hannover at home half an hour earlier. Brescia is favourite there, though in case of a home loss and a tie in Dubrovnik, Dynamo would finish 4th as both matches against Brescia ended in a 9-9 draw and the goal-difference of the Russians is better now (+13, compared to Brescia’s +6). Though it’s just a game of numbers: a win for Brescia – which is very much in the cards – would secure the Italians’ second straight qualification for the finals.
The clash of Olympiacos (GRE) and Barceloneta (ESP), both qualified already, should be a nice battle, though in case the Spaniards go down in Piraeus they might lose their second place to Jug – in fact, in the view of Group B happenings, it’s all about which Hungarian powerhouses they face in the quarter-finals.
As for Group B, everything seems to be settled, the four qualified sides, Recco (ITA), Szolnok (HUN), Eger (HUN) and Spandau (GER) play with the bottom-ranked ones and supposed to win their respective encounters so the current ranks might become the final ones.
17.30 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Atletic Barceloneta (ESP)
18.00 A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Partizan Belgrade (SRB)
20.00 AN Brescia (ITA) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)
20.30 Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Dynamo Moscow (RUS)
1. Olympiacos 34, 2. Barceloneta 27, 3. Jug 25, 5. Brescia 23, 3. Dynamo 22, 6. Hannover 13, 7. OSC 7, 8. Partizan 0
18.30 ZF-Eger (HUN) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)
18.30 Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP)
19.30 Wasserfreunde Spandau 04 (GER) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)
20.30 AZC Alphen (NED) v Pro Recco (ITA)
1. Recco 36, 2. Eger 28, 3. Szolnok 27, 4. Spandau 24, 5. Jadran 19, 6. Steaua 12, 7. Sabadell 9, 8. Alphen 0