Water Polo Champions League Men: Five quarter-final spots up for grabs in penultimate week of group stage action

Credit: CNAB/LEN Media

While Recco (ITA), Ferencvaros (HUN) and Barceloneta (ESP) have already reached safe waters by booking their spots in the next round, the remaining five quarter-final berths will be at stake in a series of crucial encounters in the penultimate games of the Champions League group stage.

Group A is the only one where everything is still wide open. Leaders Novi Beograd – runners-up in the last two editions – are in the best position. A win at home against Brescia would send the Serbs through, while any other outcome would further postpone the decision.

Elsewhere, Sabadell host Steaua in what is a must-win match before their final-day showdown with NBG in Spain in two weeks.

Recco secured their place in the quarters as expected on day four – now they can also make sure they finish top of Group B. The Italian giants play at home against Jug, whose recent form is unlikely to prevent Recco from recording another fine victory.

The Croats have a very slim chance to make the quarters after their record-loss to Olympiacos in the fourth round – indeed, the odds are firmly stacked against them as they look set to miss the cut for the first time since 2014.

Olympiacos are also on course to go through, as beating Dinamo in Piraeus would be enough to see them progress.

Jadran Split blew one chance to advance from Group C when they fell to Zvezda in Belgrade in the previous round. Now they have another shot – a home match against the other Jadran, Herceg Novi from Montenegro, where a victory would secure the Croats’ spot among the best eight.

Crvena Zvezda will need to deliver more heroics – this time in Budapest against Ferencvaros – if they are to keep their mission (almost) impossible alive. The hosts, however, never offer free gifts to visiting sides, and even though they’ve already completed their own mission, they’ll be chasing a single point that would cement them first place too.

A real do-or-die encounter awaits Marseille and Spandau, who are both locked on six points in Group D with two rounds to go.

If the French beat their rivals by more than three goals (as Spandau stunned them on day two with a 13-10 victory in Berlin), that would be enough for them to clinch a spot in the next phase.

It’s yet to be seen how the abrupt change on Spandau’s bench will impact the Germans’ performance (they ‘released’ Athanasios Kechagias last week and replaced him with Vladimir Markovic).

In the other game, Barceloneta meet Vouliagmeni – last June the bronze medal was at stake in this battle, now much less.

The Spaniards may need a point to finish top, while the already-eliminated Greeks will just want any positive performance and result.

Watch all this week’s action live on LEN TV – https://lenchampionsleague.eurovisionsports.tv/event/14/group-stage-2023-24

Follow all the results here – https://championsleague.len.eu/calendar/

Champions League, Group Stage, Round 5

(all times are CET)

Group A (Wednesday)

19.30 Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)

19.45 Novi Beograd (SRB) v AN Brescia (ITA)

Standings: 1. NBG 9, 2. Brescia 8, 3. Sabadell 7, 4. Steaua 0

Group B (Wednesday)

18.00 Olympiakos Piraeus (GRE) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)

20.30 Pro Recco (ITA) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)

Standings: 1. Recco 12, 2. Olympiacos 8, 3. Jug 4, 4. Dinamo 0

Group C (Tuesday)

18.30 FTC-Telekom (HUN) v Crvena Zvezda (SRB)

19.00 Jadran Split (CRO) v Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE)

Standings: 1. FTC 12, 2. Split 6, 3. Zvezda 4, 4. Herceg Novi 2

Group D (Tuesday)

18.45 Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Vouliagmeni (GRE)

20.00 CN Marseille (FRA) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

Standings: 1. Barceloneta 12, 2. Spandau 6, 3. Marseille 6, 4. Vouliagmeni 0

Results/Stats so far

Group A

Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)

Results so far:
SAB: 9-10 (pen) BRE (h), 11-8 STE (a), 12-10 NBG (a), 10-11 BRE (a)
STE: 7-19 NBG (a), 8-11 SAB (h), 8-17 BRE (h), 5-12 NGB (h)
Head-to-head: 1-2
Day 2: 11-8. 2017-18: 9-10, 10-11

Novi Beograd (SRB) v AN Brescia (ITA)
Results so far:
NBG: 19-7 STE (h), 13-8 BRE (a), 10-12 SAB (h), 12-5 STE (a)
BRE: 10-9 (pen) SAB (a), 8-13 NBG (h), 17-8 STE (a), 11-10 SAB (h)
Head-to-head: 4-1 (1d)
Day 2: 13-8. 2022-23: 9-12, 11-9. 2021-22: 11-11, 16-13 (prelims), 14-13 (semi-final)

Group B

Olympiakos Piraeus (GRE) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)
Results so far:
OLY: 16-15 (pen) JUG (h), 19-6 DIN (a), 11-12 REC (a), 15-5 JUG (a)
DIN: 6-15 REC (a), 6-19 OLY (h), 5-12 JUG (h), 9-16 REC (h)
Head-to-head: 4-1
Day 2: 19-6. 2022-23: 21-9, 19-10. 2021-22: 20-9, 11-12

Pro Recco (ITA) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)
Results so far:
REC: 15-6 DIN (h), 14-7 JUG (a), 12-11 OLY (h), 16-9 DIN (a)
JUG: 15-16 (pen) OLY (a), 7-14 REC (h), 12-5 DIN (a), 5-15 OLY (h)
Head-to-head (since 2014): 8-3 (1d)
Day 2: 14-7. 2021-22: 8-11, 10-0 (wo). 2020-21: 18-3, 12-11. 2017-18: 9-8 (semi-final). 2016-17: 9-5, 11-8 (prelims), 9-10 (semi-final). 2015-16: 14-6, 5-5 (prel), 14-15 (pen, semi-final)

Group C

FTC-Telekom (HUN) v Crvena Zvezda (SRB)

Results so far:
CRV: 13-16 JSP (a), 6-16 FTC (h), 20-21 (pen) JHN (a), 12-11 JSP (h)
FTC: 9-7 JHN (h), 16-6 CRV (a), 13-11 JSP (h), 17-10 JHN (a)
Head-to-head: 3-0
Day 2: 16-6. 2018-19: 15-6, 19-7

Jadran Split (CRO) Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE)
Results so far:
JHN: 7-9 FTC (a), 10-11 JSP (h), 21-20 (pen) CRV (h), 10-17 v FTC (h)
JSP: 16-13 CRV (h), 11-10 JHN (a), 11-13 FTC (a), 11-12 v CRV (a)
Head-to-head: 1-2
Day 2: 11-10. 2019-20: 11-14, 6-12

Group D

Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) Vouliagmeni (GRE)
Results so far:
VOU: 13-15 MAR (a), 11-12 BAR (h), 13-14 SPA (a), 9-12 MAR (h)
BAR: 16-6 SPA (h), 12-11 VOU (a), 9-7 MAR (h), 13-6 SPA (a)
Head-to-head: 4-0
Day 2: 12-11. 2022-23: 11-7, 13-6 (prelims), 14-13 (pen, bronze medal)

CN Marseille (FRA) Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)
Results so far:
MAR: 15-13 v VOU (h), 10-13 v SPA (a), 7-9 v BAR (a), 12-9 VOU (a)
SPA: 6-16 v BAR (a), 13-10 v MAR (h), 14-13 v VOU (h), 6-13 BAR (h)
Head-to-head: 4-2 (1d)
Day 2: 10-13. 2022-23: 9-11, 14-7. 2021-22: 12-7, 13-7. 2020-21: 8-5, 7-7.