Crucial rematches after ten days
The specialty of the prelims is the Day 5-Day 6 matches when the same pairs meet within ten days. This weekend will witness a couple of crucial matches which will have a strong influence on the hunt for the Final Six spots.
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17.00 (Friday) AN Brescia (ITA) v Olympic Nice (FRA)
Brescia is on even points with OSC (HUN), so this match is crucial with four rounds remaining after this round. Though the Hungarians play with group-leader Olympiacos, they might be able to upset the Greeks, that’s why the Italians cannot afford losing any points at home against the French. Though it was a hard battle nine days ago in Nice, Brescia controlled most of the game (and won 12-9) and this should happen again.
Alessandro Bovo, head coach, Brescia:
“After our match in Nice I am expecting a difficult game: they are well prepared and organised, with many young players who want to learn and improve. On the other hand, we need to win and these three points are important for us to achieve our goal to be in the finals. This game will tell us if we are ready and we should be lucid and ready to play our game to overcome our opponents and we know how to that. On Friday only victory matters.”
Samuel Nardon, head coach, Nice:
“This is our third away game in the Champions League, in the first two we were not able to produce the same quality of play as in the home games. Our goal now is to play on the same level as we did last week in Nice, with a lot of concentration and determination.”
18.00 A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
This might be a penultimate chance for OSC, as Brescia is about to collect three points against Nice in its home. The Hungarians face a mount to climb as Olympiacos hasn’t lost a single game in one and a half years, apart from the painful defeat against Jug in last year’s final. Beating the Greeks is an enormous task for any sides, OSC had the potential to achieve that but it requires a 120 percent effort from the hosts. Olympiacos, won 7-4 on Day 5, should not lay back either as they also have a tough duel with Szolnok to clinch the top spot in the group.
Balazs Vincze, head coach, OSC:
“We played a very strong game in Piraeus last week, with a very strong defense on our side, but we couldn’t match that with a productive offense. So the goal is to play a tight game this Saturday, to keep the strong defense, but also we have to make sure that we have an effective offensive game as well. This is what we have practiced during the week, after our national team players returned, and we hope to come up with a strong performance against a very powerful Olympiacos in front of our home crowd. Everybody is healthy, with the exception of Ferenc Salamon, whether he plays or not will be a game-day decision.”
Bence Batori, player, OSC:
“It was fun to play for the national team in the past weekend, for the first time with the new head coach Tamas Marcz, I need to bring that momentum into this upcoming CL match. We played a good game against Olympiacos last week, the three goals difference seems a lot wider than the actual tightness of that match. We would like to build on that game, keep the defense strong and tight and fight to keep point(s) at home against a very strong opponent.”
Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:
“This is the second game against OSC within ten days. I can say that this game is very important for both teams because of the final positions in the group. Certainly we know each other and most certainly this will be a completely different game than the first one. OSC is very strong at home, but Olympiacos always plays for the win regardless home or away, or even the opponent.“
Manolis Mylonakis, player, Olympiacos:
“This will be a hard game and we know that. I believe that we will be strong and focused as we have been until now, in order to achieve the result we want. We are fighting against a strong team, but if we play as we are capable of, everything will go smoothly. Every game is important, but if we win this one, we will make a decisive step forward, not only towards the Final Six, but possibly to finish in the first position of the group.”
19.30 Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN)
Szolnok can recall a comfortable 10-goal win in Berlin from the 2014-15 season, however, they have fresher memories from 10 days ago when a lapse in concentration opened the doors in front of the Germans to close the gap and they just did that. Szolnok needed to reboost the engines to secure their 12-7 win, in Berlin they couldn’t repeat that mistake as a couple of teams learnt in the last season how dangerous Spandau could be at home.
Peter Kovacevic, head coach, Spandau:
“Szolnok is still unbeaten so far, they are the favourite in this challenge. We only have a theoretical chance to reach the Final Six, however, we are not willing to give up so we will try hard to keep at least one point in Berlin.”
Sandor Cseh, head coach, Szolnok:
“We were aware of the fact that Spandau is a good team. We played a tight game with them in Szolnok. We must pay attention not to have ups and downs during the game. We must play hard in all four quarters in the German capital in order to win this encounter.”
Marton Vamos, player, Szolnok:
“We played well in our last game against Spandau. In Berlin, from the first moment we have to demonstrate our power and abilities. If we do so, we can play a well-focused, concentrated game and can win this coming match.”
- Olympiacos 13, 2. Szolnok 13, 3. OSC 7, 4. Brescia 7, 5. Spandau 3, 6. Nice 0
20.30 ZF Eger (HUN) v Atletic Barceloneta (ESP)
Though it’s only the beginning of the second half of the prelims, still, this match well can be the last chance for the Hungarians: another loss to arch-rival Barceloneta might end their dreams on a third straight appearance in the Final Six. Ten days ago the Spaniards were superior and did a clean job while beating the Hungarian side 10-6 – collecting all six points would give them an unmatchable advantage. Eger is usually strong at home, they beat Barceloneta in the last two seasons, but now even a draw would favour the visitors on the long term.
Norbert Dabrowski, head coach, Eger:
“I hope, this time we can show that at home we are as good as they are in Barcelona. It will a very important game, it’s very likely that this game can clear which team qualifies to the Final Six. There are not too many matches left in the preliminary round, so we can’t do mistakes.”
Branislav Mitrovic, captain, Eger:
“We have to win and this is a doping for everybody. I think Eger is a team which can qualify to the Final Six, we insist on that. All of our 13 players will endure to the end. We are very committed.”
Boldizsar Csiszar, player, Eger:
“We are still very disappointed after the game in Barcelona. On Saturday we will fight for our life, because we have a chance for the Final Six only in case of victory.”
Chus Martin, head coach, Barceloneta:
“In the last game against Eger we had to win at home to reach the target winning by four goals, we know that now it will be different in Hungary. They have the advantage of playing home, still, our target is to win again so we can get into the Final Six. We know it will be a very difficult game but our team will be prepared and play with great confidence.”
20.30 Pro Recco (ITA) v Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade (SRB)
Another easy test for Recco: they paid respect towards the young Serbians in the last round by playing their best throughout the match and that approach ended in a 17-5 rout. Something similar is expected this time, guaranteed entertainment for the local fans for Saturday evening.
Vladimir Vujasinovic, coach, Pro Recco:
“The gap between us is huge, still, it will be a tough match and I hope to see a good performance. I’m going to give space to our younger players like Alesiani, Bruni and Di Somma; these games are useful to prepare for the challenges awaiting us in the last three months.”
Zoran Milenkovic, head coach, Partizan:
„For us, the main goal in the game against Recco in Genova is to show ourselves in a better light than in the match in our pool, when we played pretty well for two and the half quarters, offered a strong resistance, until the last 12 minutes began. Tomorrow we will try to give the best, our players don’t have any expectations on the result and I am sure that would help them to show their full potential.“
20.45 Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)
It was the match of the day in the last round, a game which could hardly be repeated with all the twists and turns it produced. Still, the magnificent 15-15 tie was enough for the German TV Sport 1 to include the live broadcasting of the rematch for Saturday evening, a big news for club water polo. Jug came back from four goals down in the last period to save the match to a draw. The title-holders pushed themselves to a dangerous situation as they lost their advantage ahead of Barceloneta and Eger in the hunt for the Final Six berths. Further loss of points in Hannover would mean a rough journey for the Croats for the remaining rounds.
Karsten Seehafer, head coach, Hannover:
“It is not possible to play every game on a high level and score 15 goals against Jug. After a long-long time we will have a live event in the German TV, Sport1. We will fight and do our best and we hope it will be a great game…”
Aleksandar Radovic, player, Hannover:
“I expect a completely different game than the one we had in Dubrovnik. First of all with less goals, and a much more serious approach from Jug showing more respect for Waspo. It will be a tough game.”
Predrag Jokic, player, Hannover:
“We have to forget the last game. Jug is the favorite, but we want to show ourselves in a proper light as well as in Dubrovnik.”
Vjekoslav Kobescak, head coach, Jug:
“We need to play much better in all levels, in relation to the last game we played at home. We have great respect for Hannover and their game. They showed they are equal competitors in the battle for the Final Six. Xavi Garcia is back after injury, which is very good news for us.”
Felipe Perrone, player, Jug:
“Hannover played fantastic in the last couple of games, against Barceloneta and us. They have a very good team, full of experienced players and they are playing different water polo. We need to stop their shots after the fouls outside five metres. In that case we can take three points which can be crucial in the battle for the Final Six.”
- Recco 15, 2. Barceloneta 8, 3. Jug 8, 4. Eger 6, 5. Hannover 3, 6. Partizan 1