Press Release courtesy of LEN
Though there are ten more rounds to go, the last round of 2017 will see a series of key matches, especially in Group A which is way too balanced and have at least six teams hunting the four qualifying berths.
What seemed to be a five-horse race for the four qualifying berths before the start, it’s now a hunt featuring at least six serious contenders since newcomer Dynamo (RUS) took a wonderful start. The Russians’ visit to Barcelona is one of the highlights of Day 5 as even a draw would further strengthen Dynamo’s position. Barceloneta (ESP) sits 6th currently but their fantastic comeback in Dubrovnik showed their strength, the 2014 winner will go for a win at home, for sure.
The only unbeaten side in the group Olympiacos (GRE) faces OSC (HUN) in Budapest. The Hungarians opened their quest with two fine wins but then went down against Barceloneta , then against Brescia at home. Back-to-back losses to main rivals at home would further weaken OSC’s chances in the New Year but their task is extremely difficult since the Greeks look like the favourites in the group. Just a fact to underline their strength: in the weekend Olympiacos won its 120th (!) domestic league game in succession!
Winning in Budapest gave fresh blood to Brescia (ITA) and now they can continue their rise provided they could make another miracle, this time against Jug. The Croats had some ups and downs, lost in Moscow, couldn’t beat Barceloneta at home, dropping more points would be rather painful for last season’s runners-up.
Hannover (GER) ought to beat Partizan (SRB) in order to reserve some chance to keep up with the others, all other results might take the Germans out of the race for the F8. Last season this game ended in a draw, while Partizan won in Belgrade but in the summer six more players left the Serbian club which somewhat explains while they can regarded the underdogs this time.
Few would have guessed that the game of Jadran (MNE) and Recco (ITA) would feature the top two ranked sides of the group on Day 4. This is the first real test for the Montenegrins who are still unbeaten, survived Eger’s visit with a draw – another tie (or win) against the 2015 winners would be a Christmas wonder. All in all, Jadran will begin the match in an upbeat mood as they are fresh from winning the Montenegrin Cup for the 7th straight occasion.
Eger (HUN will have another tough away match, this time in Berlin. Since Spanadau managed to defeat title-holder Szolnok (HUN), the Germans stepped forward and can be considered a serious contender for the Final 8 – another triumph would secure them a five-point advantage.
Szolnok could recover from the shocking loss in Berlin and winning the best match of the season against Recco in the previous round put the Hungarians back to the right track. Now they can prepare for an easy ride in Alphen (NED) as the Dutch are not in the same weight-category with the title-holder team.
The game between Sabadell (ESP) and Steaua (ROU) – to be played on Tuesday – will decide the respective faiths of the teams. A home win would prolong the Spaniards’ hopes to stay in the hunt as long as possible – if the Romanians can cause a surprise it would mean that they catch up with Sabadell, as well as cement their rivals into the lower part of the ranks.
Champions League, Day 5
18.30 A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
18.30 Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Partizan Belgrade (SRB)
19.00 Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v Dynamo Moscow (RUS)
20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)
- Olympiacos 10, 2. Dynamo 9, 3. Jug 7, 4. Brescia 6, 5. OSC 6, 6. Barceloneta 5, 7. Hannover 3, 8. Partizan 0
19.00 (Tuesday) Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)
18.30 Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE) v Pro Recco (ITA)
19.30 Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v ZF-Eger (HUN)
20.30 AZC Alphen (NED) v Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN)
- Jadran 10, 2. Recco 9, 3. Szolnok 9, 4. Spandau 9, 5. Eger 7, 6. Sabadell 3, 7. Steaua 0, 8. Alphen 0
Please also see the other file attached featuring quotes from the coaches and players of the respective teams.
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