Courtesy: LEN Media
Both Russian teams, Kinef and Uralochka finished atop with three wins apiece in the preliminary round of the Euro League. Olympiacos did a clean job and fellow Greek side Vouliagmeni went through as well. Title-holder Sabadell recovered from an opening day defeat and freshly crowned Super Cup winner Orizzonte also won its decisive match to go through. 2018 LEN Trophy winner Dunaujvaros and Netherlands’ Utrecht complete the quarter-final field. 2017 LEN Trophy winner UVSE and last year’s Final Four participant Padova are the two major casualties of the weekend, both finished third and shall miss the quarters this season.
Euro League, Preliminaries
Group E (Athens): 1. Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 9, 2. Dunaujvarosi Foiskola (HUN) 6, 3. CN Mataro (ESP) 3, 4. CN Mediterrani (ESP) 0
Group F (Sabadell): 1. Sabadell (ESP) 6, 2. UZSC Utrecht (NED) 4 (34-31), 3. UVSE Budapest (HUN) 4 (29-33), 4. SIS Roma (ITA) 3
Group G (Kirishi): 1. Kinef-Surgutneftegas Kirishi (RUS) 9, 2. Vouliagmeni (GRE) 6, 3. Plebiscito Padova (ITA) 3, 4. ZVL Tetteroo (NED) 0
Group H (Catania): 1. Dynamo Uralochka (RUS) 9, 2. Orizzonte Catania (ITA) 6, 3. BVSC-Zuglo (HUN) 3, 4. Saint Andreu (ESP) 0
Last season’s runner-up Olympiacos did a clean job at home in Group A, three fine wins sent them through. Dunaujvaros lost narrowly to the Greeks but a 15-10 victory in an action-packed match over Mediterrani and a 5-goal surge in the last period against the other Spanish side Mataro earned a quarter-final spot for the 2018 Super Cup winners.
Group B turned out to be the toughest group. It all started with a stunning 11-7 win of Utrecht over host Sabadell. The Spaniards, weakened after last season and having lost the Super Cup final on Tuesday, responded well and beat Rome 13-9 next day to set up a live-or-die match against 2017 LEN Trophy winner UVSE which played a thrilling 13-13 tie with Utrecht. Though Sabadell had some ups and downs, led 9-5 but the Hungarians came back to 11-10 only to see the Spaniards having the last laugh by producing a 4-0 rush in the last 3:42 minutes. It means that UVSE couldn’t make the quarters for the first time in five years while Sabadell saved Spain’s pride to make the best eight as the other three teams all fell in this round.
In Group C, three sides from last years’ F4s battled for the top two ranks and finally Padova fell short of making the top eight this year. 2017 and 2018 champion Kirishi pulled off three wins so the second place was decided in the re-match of last May’s bronze medal game between Vouliagmeni and Padova. The Greeks staged a 6-2 rush in the middle two quarters, won 9-6 and that secured their QF berth.
Uralochka didn’t spare scoring goals, they netted 50 in three games – their most brilliant win was the one against freshly crowned Super Cup winner Orizzonte. The Russians beat the host Italians 16-14 in a superb encounter, their captain Elvina Karimova netted 8 goals so they finished atop in the group. This forced Orizzonte to play a decisive match against BVSC on the last day which they won despite a bit bumpy start. The Hungarians led 3-4 after the first period but the Italians found their game and left no chance for their rivals as they won the next three quarters with a 10-3 run.
Since the LEN Family is heading to Glasgow, the draw for the quarter-finals will be conducted on Monday on the site of the European Short-Course Swimming Championships.