Recco already claimed the first place in Group A with two rounds to go after a hard-fought win over Spandau. A thrilling tie between Jug and Olympiacos sent the Greeks through and almost certainly secured Jug’s second place. Marseille gained a crucial win against Ortigia in the race for the fourth qualifying spot.
Group A (Ostia)
Round 8: Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Pro Recco (ITA) 7-10, Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 11-11, CC Ortigia (ITA) v CN Marseille (FRA) 7-10
Standings: 1. Recco 24, 2. Jug 16, 3. Olympiacos 11, 4. Marseille 10, 5. Spandau 5, 6. Ortigia 3
Just as in the past six complete seasons, Recco came first in its preliminary group and the Italians are also on their way to post another 10/10 winning ratio (had 14/14 in 2019). They stand with 8/8 after beating Spandau, though the game was much tighter than expected, especially after the Germans’ dramatic adventure with the pre-tournament Covid-tests.
As they could travel and be present in Ostia, they almost caused a big upset – at least they managed to come back to 7-7 at the beginning of the fourth period after being 4-7 down. They shut out Recco for 9:53 minutes, a rare feat by any team any time anywhere, but the Italians woke up in time, Niccolo Figari put away a 6 on 5 with 4:55 to go for 7-8. In the remaining time only they could add two more, the Germans couldn’t score in the last 7:23 minutes.
The clash of the two former champions, 2016 winner Jug and 2018 victor Olympiacos offered some thrilling moments and brilliant water polo action. Jug had a fine opening and took a 4-3 lead in eight minutes only to remain completely silent in the second as the Greeks staged a 0-3 rush. The Croats could score after 9:23 minutes but thanks to Konstantinos Genidounias, who netted 5 in the game, Olympiacos went 6-9 and 7-10 up late in the third.
Jug wasn’t done, though, the Croats netted one before the last break then hit two in a span of 36 seconds early in the fourth and tied the game at 10-10. And after three minutes of battling and swimming, Elvis Fatovic buried a penalty so with this 4-0 rush Jug retook the lead with 3:05 minutes on the clock. Olympiacos reacted well and Stylianos Argyrpopoulos put away a man- up for 11-11 right in the next possession (also halted his team’s scoreless run at 8:55 minutes). The remaining 2:27 minutes offered further excitements, both sides had shots hitting the posts – the Croats did it in a man-up – so the game ended in a tie.
A crucial clash for the last remaining spot concluded the day and Marseille got the upper hand while Ortigia became the first team bowing out from the contest. The French took a flying start and built a massive 0-3 lead by the end of the opening period. It took 11:43 minutes for the Italians to score their first but once they found their rhythm in front they added three more to trail by only one at halftime (4-5).
What’s more, they managed to equalise early in the third but they couldn’t build on that momentum. Instead, Marseille regained its confidence at the other end to stage a 0-3 surge and led 5-8 before the last period and this time they didn’t let their rival back to the match.
Ortigia had another blackout and remained scoreless for 8:01 minutes but even if they pulled one back in the fourth, the French replied with two to go 6-10 up and bagged three points which might earn them a place in the Final Eight. On Tuesday a draw against Spandau would secure their first-ever appearance on the big stage.
Fixtures for Tuesday
Group A, Round 9
15.15 Ortigia v Jug, 17.45 Marseille v Spandau, 20.15 Recco v Olympiacos
Group B (Budapest), Round 8:
14.00 FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER), 16.30 Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO), 19.00 Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v AN Brescia (ITA)
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