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2020 European Water Polo Ch European Water Polo Ch Budapest LEN Events News Water Polo

34th European Water Polo Championships, Budapest D3

Italy opens with important win over Greece

The Italian team opened its campaign in Budapest with a fine win over Greece, the world champions were really convincing in the second half. The title-holder Serbians had some struggles in the third period against Russia but bounced back in time and won with ease at the end. Two games saw enormous battles since here the third places in the respective groups and the berth in the top 12 (and possibly in the Olympic qualification tournament) were at stake. Surprisingly, Georgia beat Rio 2016 participant France and the Netherlands came back from two goals down to win against Romania.

Men’s preliminaries, Round 1

Group A: Slovakia v Montenegro 4-15, Germany v Croatia 9-17

Group B: Serbia v Russia 13-9, Romania v Netherlands 8-9

Group C: Turkey v Hungary 5-19, Malta v Spain 7-23

Group D: Italy v Greece 10-6, France v Georgia 7-9

Greece’s miserable run against Italy at the Europeans didn’t come to an end in Budapest either. They have never beaten their Mediterranean rival (Italy won 10 out of 11 games, one ended in a tie) – and their hopes to halt this terrible streak lived only till halftime. Then it stood 4-4 but Italy came back strong for the third, shut out the Greeks for 6:54 minutes, scored three connecting goals and that did the damage. They won the second half 6-2, drowned the Greek offence – the number of shots (34-21) and those on target (23-12) tells the story.

The other game in this group offered even more the tensions as Georgia pulled off a surprising win over France. It was a balanced match but the Georgians made most of their chances in the second half while the French could score only twice in this phase after netting five in the first. With 6:47 to go it stood 7-7 but Georgia scored two in a span of 44 seconds and managed to kill all French attacks in the remaining 5:24 minutes.

Earlier, a thrilling match kicked off the men’s event, which saw the Netherlands staging a big comeback against Romania to earn a crucial win. The Dutch led at halftime 4-5 but Romania enjoyed a great spell in the third, netted four goals to go 8-6 up. But they were unable to score more in the last period (their drought lasted 9:51 minutes indeed) while the Dutch started rolling and with a 0-3 rush they turned the game and bagged three points and set themselves to reach the top 12.

In the other game of Group B the Serbs seemed to sit comfortable in the driving seat as they led 7-4 at halftime only to see the Russians netting three connecting goals in a span of 1:55 minutes early in the third for 7-7. However, the title-holders responded well, hit back with a double in 66 seconds and did the same after 9-8 in the fourth to secure their win at the end.

As expected, in Group A and D the favourites enjoyed easy matches while they geared up the engines. Both Montenegro and Croatia claimed surprisingly easy wins, even though after the first period nothing promised an easy cruise either of them. The two greats were 1-2 down after eight minutes against Slovakia and Germany respectively, then the Montenegrins staged a 6-0 rush and won the second half 8-2 while the Croats won the middle two periods 12-3.

Spain also had a slow start against Malta (4-3), then speeded up and scored 19 more goals. Hungary did the same, spent the opening quarter with calming down, and that was quite visible on the scoreboard (4-4). But once they found the necessary level in concentration, Turkey had to face the inevitable, which came in a form of a 15-1 blast, much to the joy of the home crowd.

For more details, detailed statistics, play-by-play descriptions click here


Men’s preliminaries, Round 1

Group B, 10.00

Romania v Netherlands 8-9

Athanasios Kechagias, head coach, Romania.

“Even though we lost our first match while we were leading almost the whole game, I would not say that it is a disappointment after all. You can learn from every game you play, one thing we need to work on now is concentration. I believe this was the main difference in the last quarter between the two teams. We look forward to the next matches, we focus on each and every of our upcoming clashes one by one, we do not make any difference.”

Harry Van Der Meer, head coach, Netherlands:

“This is my first Championships as Head Coach and straight up a win. We didn’t play well for two periods, we were too passive, we stopped playing the way we should have, so it was a bit disappointing for all of us. In some cases we could not attack successfully, but luckily at the end of the game the players fought as a team, so they managed to come back and win. For us the first few matches are always important, especially here, in Budapest, because the pressure on the players is quite big because of the prestige of the event. Now we have Russia and Serbia ahead of us, we will see how far we can go in those ones.”

Cosmin Radu, player, Romania

“What can I say. They deserved this win. They were better in the second and fourth quarter and closed down the game. We tried everything – in vain.”

Guus van Ijperen, player, Netherlands

I’m happy. This was a big and important win for us. We are the underdogs here but will give our best and put up a fight. For me defence is always more important and we did that part well today. In a group with Serbia and Russia we had to win this match. It was a great comeback. We were two goals down, we said to each other that we trained hard for this match so we really should go for it. Fortunately, we could strengthen our defence and build on our counter attacks.”

Group A, 11.30

Slovakia v Montenegro 4-15

Karol Baco, Assistant Coach, Slovakia:

“The players had difficulties due to being sick. Five players were vomiting yesterday evening and still felt terrible this morning, so we are happy that they were able to play. On the other hand, we knew it in the beginning that our opponents are better, Montenegro and Croatia are the favourites in our group, we need to focus on the game against Germany. And of course, we need to beat the stomach problems.”

Vladimir Gojkovic, head coach, Montenegro

“I am satisfied with the final result but disappointed about our performance. At the beginning of the match we let them score easy goals. After they missed the penalty at 2-2 we started to play better once we could stabilise our defence. The beginning of the championships is always difficult, new pool, some tensions you feel. Next up is Croatia. They are very strong, one of the favourites. To beat them we have to be at our 100%. On the other hand we know them very well given the number of matches we have already played against each other.”

Marek Tkac, player, Slovakia:

“It was a very difficult match since Montenegro is one of the best in our group. They have a young but experienced team. We were able to stay on equal terms with them for one period. Afterwards, it was difficult, they showed quality, were much faster and we couldn’t stop their counter attacks.”

Aleksandar Ivovic, player, Montenegro:

“The beginning of the match did not go the way we planned, but after that in the next quarters we managed to play our game which resulted this 11-goal gap. For us the most important, concerning today’s match, was to build in the four new players we have here even more. It was an important win for our self-confidence and to further improve the team-spirit. Our main clashes are ahead of us, as we want to catch the first or the second place in our group, so the game against Germany will be decisive for us, while the game against Croatia will be the toughest one, they beat us in the last tournaments.”

Group C, 13.00

Malta v Spain 7-23

Karl Izzo, head coach, Malta:

“We were playing against one of the best teams in Europe and in the world. We played the third quarter badly but I am not dissatisfied. We managed to score some goals. Now we turn towards the game against Turkey which is a key match for us in this group phase of the championships.”

David Martin, head coach, Spain:

“It is always somewhat difficult to start the Championships with a match that one must win. I think my players’ heads were already in the match against Hungary. Our first quarter was bad but later we demonstrated our velocity and speed. What is important is the victory and the points gained. Now we start preparing for the match against Hungary.”

Mattew Zammit, player, Malta:

“For us it was a difficult match. Our objective is to win against Turkey. This is a key match for us. These kinds of games aren’t easy for us but they help us learn more about water polo.”

Felipe Perrone, player, Spain:

“There are always tensions during the opening match of the event no matter who the opponent is. We started off nervously but later got our game on track. We’re glad to be here in Hungary and playing at this beautiful venue. The start of the ‘real’ Championships for us will be the next game against Hungary.”

Group A, 14.30

Germany v Croatia 9-17

Hagen Stamm, head coach, Germany

“The final result shows a gap higher by five goals than reality, I think. We did some mistakes, while they showed their quality as they have a bronze medal from last year’s World Championships. We will now focus on the game against Slovakia which is very important for us.”

Ivica Tucak, head coach, Croatia

“The beginning of a tournament is always difficult, and this German team was not an easy opponent, even though it looks like the opposite when you check the final result. It took some time for us to calm down and start playing our game, but happily we were able to get everything done, more or less, in the way we wanted.”

Moritz Schenkel, goalkeeper, Germany

“We started well both in defence and offence. After the first half we lost our composure in the back, missed some of our chances and they made use of these mistakes. Now, we want to see what was wrong and make it better for the next important match against Slovakia.”

Marko Bijac, goalkeeper, Croatia

The first match is difficult as always with all the pressure it brings. The start was not good but then we started swimming better and showed our quality. As far as the Olympics are concerned we’re not thinking that far, just taking one game at a time.”

Maro Jokovic, player, Croatia

“We did not expect to struggle at the beginning but all in all, we can be satisfied with the result. We made some mistakes in the first half but after that we could play in a more disciplined way. We focus on the clash against Montenegro because that match will decide the top position.”

Group D, 16.00

France v Georgia 7-9

Nenad Vukanic, head coach, France

“Both teams went into the game fully aware of its weight that the win was a key to the 12th place, which comes with a chance for Tokyo and so on. We put too much pressure on ourselves while the Georgians reacted better and were smarter during the match. We didn’t succeed in what we came here to do. We made loads of little mistakes and in the final period our concentration started to decrease, and we let the opponent shoot two easy goals and we could not find the solution to come back.  It is difficult after a match like this to expect a lot but I hope we’ll pull our heads together and give our absolute best in the remaining two matches of the group phase.”

Revaz Chomakhidze, head coach, Georgia

“This is beyond our expectations. France is a serious team. Today we were better in this hugely important match for us in order to aim a place among the top 12. Next we face Italy and Greece. We will try to prepare as best as we can.”

Thomas Vernoux , player, France

“I really don’t know what to say. This was one game we should have won and we lost it. It’s very hard. I don’t know what happened. How is this possible? We beat them twice before.”

Marko Jelaca, player, Georgia

“I am so, so happy for this. We have been preparing for this match since the beginning of this season. Though this win didn’t come by chance as we are all also playing in the Champions League together, it all served to prepare us for this. This means we now aim for the top 12 and this is a historical success for Georgia.”

Boris Vapenski, player, Georgia

“Right now we are very happy, ten days ago France beat us, now we came out better. It was our most important match in the group as we wanted to catch the third place. I really hope that our performance will improve for the next two games, that would be a very positive outcome for us at this event.”

Group B, 17.30

Serbia v Russia 13-9

Dejan Savic, head coach, Serbia

“The first match of the tournament is always a challenge and Russia was an excellent opponent. It is a pity that we have never practised in this pool before, however this venue is amazing, it was a fantastic experience playing here. We started out exactly as we planned in the first half, however in the third quarter we fell apart a bit, there were some problems in our man-down and Russia could equalise. I had to shake up the team a bit, we needed to strengthen our defence in the final period to develop an advantage again. It was a tough opening game, but we are satisfied with both the result and our performance, since this win is important to have the right rhythm in the championship.”

Sergey Evstigneev, head coach, Russia

“We started the match well, which is a good sign for our further group matches. Unfortunately, we could not finish the game with the result we wanted. I think the players did their job well, but towards the end they were a bit scared, tired, and therefore they failed to score goals. We still have a lot of matches to play, as this European Championship will be quite long. I feel we are well prepared. Our goal is to advance from the preliminary round.”

Andrija Prlainovic, player, Serbia

“It was a good start for us and a very interesting game. We started well in the first quarter, especially in defence. It was our first match and we were a bit nervous, but then in the second quarter we played a lot better. Our next too opponents are Romania and Netherlands, who are not on our level. I hope we can win those encounters easily.”

Milan Aleksic, player, Serbia:

“It was a tough game physically. The victory at the beginning is what counts. It is also important to get into the rhythm of the tournament. The pool is new for us as we haven’t tried it before today’s match. We had some problems in our zone defence and with our man-down. But it is only the first game so there still time to correct the minor details.”

Ivan Nagaev, player, Russia

“For us it was important to show to ourselves primarily that we are in a good shape both physically and mentally. It was a close match but we lost to Serbia. It was a good game. Also, it was very important for us because we want to get into rhythm of the games in order to reach quarter-finals. It was a match with a lot of comebacks.”

Group C, 19.30

Turkey v Hungary 5-19

Sinan Turunc, head coach, Turkey:

“We showed good water polo in the first half of the match. Later we just couldn’t keep up with a team such as Hungary. For us each game is important and we will try to push till the end, however, the one against Malta stands out of course.”

Tamas Marcz, head coach, Hungary:

“We did not start this match that well, the Turkish team scored some easy goals, their defence was excellent, they tried to control the game and I think they were very clever in that. My players were a little bit slow and there were some slow reactions from their side. After the first period we woke up, and started to score goals, which was good for the fans as well. Nobody knows which game might be decisive to get the first place in the group because the goal difference may count at the end, so we always try to do our best.”

Oguz Berk Senemoglu, player, Turkey

“This was a good experience for us. We are a young team, we are still learning day by day, match by match. It was a pleasure to play in this great atmosphere against the home team of such quality. For us the game against Malta will be very important if we want to obtain the third place in our group.”

Norbert Hosnyanszky, player, Hungary:

“The first match is always hard, we started too slow in the first quarter and we picked up the Turkish team’s style. For the last two quarters we increased the pace, started to play our game. We are satisfied with the result, I think it was a good first game at the European Championship.”

Krisztián Manhercz, player, Hungary

“I don’t think we showed everything we are capable of, because the result was four-four in the first quarter. It not a good thing to concede four goals against the Turkish team in one quarter by any means. It was our first encounter at the Danube Arena, so everyone had to get used to the atmosphere.”

Balazs Erdelyi, player, Hungary

“The first period started out rather exciting, we did not want our audience to be bored. We have been way too cautious and shy at the beginning of the match, then we started to play our own game and by halftime we could see the difference between the two teams. This incredible audience helped us to recover from the initial downturn. We must get used to this atmosphere. We did not lay all our cards on the table yet, neither did Spain against Malta today, so on Thursday we can surprise each other with new tactics in our play.”

Group C, 21.00

Italy v Greece 10-6

Alessandro Campagna, head coach, Italy

“It was a difficult game. In the beginning the match was very close and the Greek team made it hard for us, but in the end we managed to win this important clash. I am not satisfied with the performance, because there were specific periods when we did not play well.”

Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Greece

“We played well in the first quarter against a very strong Italian team, but sometimes I felt we couldn’t make the right decisions. While we missed easy attempts, Italy could score three goals in a row and it seemed impossible to keep up with them. We need to correct these mistakes, improve our attacks and we have to play much more confidently to get into the top eight, which is our main goal.”

Ioannis Fountoulis, player, Greece

“We played a difficult match against a great opponent. We were equal until the last quarter. Unfortunately, we could not score goals in the extra man situations, and therefore we could not close the gap. Obviously, we should improve in that aspect of the game.”