Three former winners, Sabadell (ESP), Olympiacos (GRE), Vouliagmeni (GRE) and a newcomer, Padova (ITA) will be part of the show in Sabadell where the Euro League trophy is at stake in the coming Easter weekend.
11.30 NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
13.15 Plebiscito Padova (ITA) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP)
Medal Round (Saturday)
11.30 Bronze medal game
13.15 Euro League Final
Top water polo action returns to Sabadell after five years with the Euro League Final Four taking place in the city once again. The local club is targeting a 5th crown in nine years and a first after 2016. The Spaniards reached the final six times in the last eight editions, though a year ago they lost to Kinef Kirishi in Russia in a thriller with a penalty shootout at the end.
The Russians, victors in 2017 and 2018, missed the cut this season, but there are other dangerous rivals who can threaten the hosts’ campaign. In the semis the Spaniards face newcomer Padova which had several attempts to reach the last stage before succeeding this spring by eliminating Hungary’s giant UVSE in the quarters.
The other semi-final clash feature two Greek greats. 2015 winner Olympiacos became a usual participant of the finals between 2015 and 2017 – though didn’t pass the quarters last season –, while Vouliagmeni, champions in 2010 and 2011, returns to the big stage after 2014. Back then they lost to Sabadell in the final, it’s yet to be seen if they meet again here.
At the opening press conference, the local nobilities all emphasized the growing importance of this event which, according to Marisol Martinez, sport counsellor of Sabadell, represents a big value for the city and the same weight in women’s water polo as the Final Eight in the men’s Champions League. Catalonia’s Government representative Daniel Laga and the President of CN Sabadell Claudi Marti both highlighted the international prestige this tournament means to the region. On behalf of LEN, TWPC Chairman Gianni Lonzi underlined that the very best of female water polo would surely be a true spectacle of this Easter while Operation Manager Marco Birri talked about the media exposure of the tournament which is getting bigger and bigger and LEN shall offer free live streaming from each match as usual.
Quotes from the opening press conference
Charis Pavlides, head coach, Olympiacos:
“We are happy to be back after one year to the Final Four. My team is ready to fight though our task is not easy as we face a well-known rival, Vouliagmeni. We play with them several times in the season but a Euro League semi-final is totally different from the other matches. This game is a final itself as only the winner can play for the trophy so we are preparing for this as if it were a final.”
Triantafylli Manolioudaki, captain, Olympiacos:
“We missed the Final4 last year and we are glad to be here once again. Our task cannot be any more difficult as we will play with a great team but we are strong and feel confident that we can win this match and the next one too.”
Alexia Kammenou, head coach, Vouliagmeni:
“It’s good to back after so many years, both to play in the Final Four and to play here in Sabadell. This is going to be a great event for women’s water polo, four outstanding teams made the finals, all proved that they deserved to be here. We have a strong team once again, lot of good players, so we want to win though we know that two very tough matches we have to play.”
Elena Xenaki, captain, Vouliagmeni:
“After some years our team is strong again and can be here at last. Playing with Olympiacos is difficult, but it would be the same against the other two teams as well. We are ready to fight for the title.”
Andrea Barzon, team manager, Padova:
“For us it’s a big honor to be here for the first time and play against the best teams of Europe. Though the other three sides are much stronger than ours, perhaps we could prove in the past years that step-by-step we can build a good team which won the last five titles in Italy. I hope we can play two good games here and wish the best of luck for everyone.”
David Palma, head coach, Sabadell:
“We are very grateful to our city to host this Final Four. It’s a great experience for our team to play at home once again. We are happy that we could show our best in front of our supporters, for us it’s a joy and not a pressure. We see three great and tough rivals in this tournament, all are strong and worthy rivals so it’s going to be a challenge to claim this trophy.”
Olga Domenech, captain, Sabadell:
“It’s great to play the Final Four in our home. We are ready for the games and we strongly believe we can clinch the trophy for the fifth time.”