Favourites rolled on
No upsets on the second day of the competition (Round 2 in Ostia, Round 1 in Budapest) – the favourite teams all bagged three points, though Jug and Recco had tighter encounters with Marseille and Ortigia respectively. Olympiacos added another win too, while Brescia, Ferencvaros and Barceloneta enjoyed fine openers in the Duna Arena.
Group A – Ostia (ITA) Round 2: Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v CN Marseille (FRA) 11-10, Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 11-10, CC Ortigia (ITA) v Pro Recco (ITA) 7-10
Group B – Budapest (HUN) Round 1: Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v AN Brescia (ITA) 9-15, Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 2-11, Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Zodiac CN Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) 8-16
Marseille was close again but after a narrow loss to 8-time winner Recco on Monday, this time they had to settle for a single-goal defeat against 2016 champion Jug. The game had a different pattern compared to the one they had on Monday, this time Jug surged to a commanding 8-4 lead by the middle of the third when the French started climbing back. With 1:35 to go, they closed the distance to one at 10-9 with a fabulous goal from the centre by Vladan Spaic. However, just 27 seconds later Luka Loncar also sent one home from the hole and that sealed the Croats’ win – a late man-up goal at 0:04 did not affect the outcome.
Olympiacos also arrives to the big Wednesday showdown against Jug with two wins under its belt. The Greeks offered a very balanced performance against Spandau – they virtually ended the contest by halftime as they netted three in a span of 111 seconds to take a 4-8 lead. Sitting comfortable in the driving seat, the 2018 winners switched back one or two gears but never let the Germans closer than two goals. What’s more, after 8-10 they staged a great finish by adding three more.
The Italian derby brought a more balanced contest than expected. Ortigia took a 3-2 lead early in the second but Recco responded with three consecutive goals. Still, the Sicilians kept coming back and in the middle of the third they equalised at 7-7. That was their swansong though as they was running out of gas: they could not net any more in the last 10:05 minutes, indeed they could not set up any bigger scoring chance in the final period while Recco finally got the upper hand by burying two man-ups and a penalty.
In Budapest, the competition pool of the magnificent Duna Arena welcomed back top-level water polo after January 26. But what a difference: the European Water Polo Championships ended in an electrifying atmosphere with 5,000 people on the tribune – now the stands were empty, a sad sign of how the world has changed in the meantime.
For a little longer than a period, the opening encounter of Dinamo and Brescia offered some stunning scenes. The Italians took a 0-2 lead quickly, only to see Dinamo netting four goals in a row and leading 4-2 after the first period. Soon they were 5-3 up but then Brescia, playing without its suspended head coach Alessandro Bovo (had been red carded in the last game of the qualifications), took control and with a 0-7 rush they closed down the game. Indeed they won the middle two periods 2-10 and earned an easy win – Angelos Vlachopoulos scored 5 for them this afternoon.
Title-holder Ferencvaros was up next and the local side did not disappoint its fans in front of the TV as they dominated the match against Jadran from the beginning to the end. It was interesting to see how well their defence worked after two embarrassingly high-scoring defeats in the domestic league (conceded 15 and 16 goals respectively against Szolnok and OSC). Here they held a clean sheet for 22:50 minutes – though one should note that Jadran is no longer the team which sat in a qualifying position in March when the season was halted. Five key-players left the Montenegrins and that was clearly visible against the much more experienced and skilled rival. Jadran could net its first goal at 0-8 with 1:10 remaining from the third (thanks to a lucky bounce) while Ferencvaros offered a couple of brilliantly played manups and finished the afternoon with two conceded goals.
Barceloneta also did a clean job against Hannover. The Spaniards brought their great counter-attacking game to the pool and extended the gap quarter by quarter. Though Hannover benefitted from the video review when their goal was called for 4-6 after the officials checked the goal-line camera’s view – but this proved to be temporary help only. By halftime the Spaniards led 5-8 and before the last period it stood 6-12 as Alberto Munarriz was on fire and scored 6 goals.
Group A, Round 3: 15.15 Marseille v Ortigia, 17.45 Olympiacos v Jug, 20.15 Recco v Spandau
Group B, Round 2: 14.00 Barceloneta v Dinamo, 16.30 Ferencvaros v Brescia, 19.00 Jadran v Waspo