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2017 Champions L. 2017 LEN Events News Water Polo

Champions League F6, Preview, Day 3 – Champions League Final

16.45 Jug CO Dubrovnik (CRO) v Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN)

  • This is the 8th final for Jug, they won 4 and lost 3. Szolnok has already written history by making the final, their best ever result in Europe.
  • The two sides met last year in the prelims. Jug won 10-9 in Dubrovnik while Szolnok hit back with 13-10. The same scenario happened in 2015: 11-9 for Jug in Croatia, 8-7 for Szolnok in Hungary.
  • Jug made 5-2-3 in the prelims, including a surprising 15-15 tie with Hannover in Dubrovnik (though Jug came back from 7-11 down in the last period which ended in an amazing 9-5 partial result). Besides losing to Recco twice, they also fell to Eger on the last day.
  • Szolnok has an unbeaten run so far in the Champions League, after they had a 5-5 tie with Olympiacos on the opening day in the prelims, they posted 9 wins in succession to top the group (though enjoying an automatic qualifying berth as the official host of this F6 tournament), and added another win here against Eger in the semis.
  • Szolnok lost three matches this season, all in Hungary: two against OSC, first in the early stages of the championship (11-14) then in the semis (6-7), and one against Eger at the end of the regular season (5-8).
  • In the prelims, Szolnok scored the third most (101) and conceded the fewest (62) goals. In fact, Szolnok has improved its defence spectacularly as they finished the previous prelims with an almost identical goal-difference (2015: 122-90 – 2016: 121-90), but now got 29 goals less.
  • Jug has a rich history in the Champions League: they clinched the title 4 times (1981, 2001, 2006 – all in finals held in Dubrovnik and 2016 in Budapest), were runners-up also 3 times (2007, 2008, 2013) and reached the Final Four/Six 11 times altogether since they first made it in 2001. Between 2005 and 2010 they were part of the show in 6 straight occasions.
  • This is the third F6 appearance for Szolnok. They finished 6th in 2015 (losing to Barceloneta in the QF on penalties, then to Eger) and came 3rd last year after they had beat Barceloneta (7-5) in the QF, lost to Olympiacos in the semis (7-8) and won against Recco in the bronze medal match (11-7).
  • Jug won the Croatian/Yugoslavian championships 33 times altogether.
  • Szolnok won its third straight title weeks ago, previously they were gold medallists 6 times so their golden count stands at 9. Szolnok was the first team outside the capital (Budapest) which won the Hungarian title (in 1954).
  • Jug fields 5 Olympic silver medallists from Rio: Luka Loncar, Maro Jokovic, Xavier Garcia (born in Spain), Marko Macan and Marko Bijac. They also have the 2015 and 2016 Final Six MVP in their line-up, Brazilian Felipe Perrone.
  • Szolnok’s mix features four Hungarian national team players from Rio (Viktor Nagy, Marton Vamos, Denes Varga and Gabor Kis), three Serbian Olympic champions (Milan Aleksic, Zivko Gocic and Andrija Prlainovic), a Montenegrin (Ugo Crousillat) and an Australian (Aaron Younger). 2008 Olympic champion Denes Varga was the MVP of the 2012 Final Four (playing for Primorje in that season), while 2016 Olympic gold medallist Andrija Prlainovic earned this distinction in 2013, playing for Crvena Zvezda.
  • In fact, Varga, Prlainovic and Milan Aleksic are the only ones in Szolnok who ever played in a Champions League final in the past. Varga in 2012 (with Rijeka, losing to Recco), while Prlainovic won in 2011 (with Partizan), in 2012 (with Recco), in 2013 (with Zvezda), in 2015 (with Recco). Aleksic was member of the 2011 winning side.
  • Here Jug enjoyed a fine evening while beating Olympiacos 11-8 in the quarters. They were effective in offence, scoring 11 goals from 23 attempts (47.8%). It was a good team effort as seven players shared the scoring. Against Recco they netted 10 on 25 (40.0%) with eight players being on target.
  • Szolnok produced modest stats in offence, scoring 7 goals from 24 shots for 29.2%. Hungarian players are yet to score for Szolnok in this Final Six as Serbian Andrija Prlainovic (3), Aussie Aaron Younger (3) and Montenegrin Ugo Crousillat (1) netted Szolnok’s goals in the semis.
  • Jug’s Marko Bijac (best goalie of last year’s F6) produced fine percentages so far here in Budapest: 52.6% against Olympiacos, stopping 9 shots on 17 attempts and 50.0% against Recco, 9 on 18. Viktor Nagy’s first appearance here was successful, too, as he made 7 saves on 12 shots against Eger, for 58.3%. Nagy was picked for the best goalie award at the 2013 Worlds and the 2016 Europeans.
  • Jug’s head coach Vjekoslav Kobescak played frequently among the best as member of Mladost Zagreb (CRO). He won the title in 1996, and was runner-up in 1997 and 2000 (that time in the Final Four).

• Szolnok’s club director – who sat on the bench until 2014 – Istvan Kovacs is the most decorated club coach in the Hungarian water polo history and his respective teams played in the final of the Champions League (and its former editions) for 7 times (Ujpest in 1994, 1995, 1996, Honved in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005), lifting the trophy twice (1994, 2004). He was the last one who led a Hungarian team to a Champions League win – it happened on the Margaret Island in 2004