FINA World League

Croatia wins water polo classic, Russia advances to Super Final

Maro Jokovic (Croatia)

The qualifications for the Europa Cup Super Final were completed today, by the matches of the 6th round. The most important games were played in Sisak and in Hamm. Olympic and European champion Serbia visited Sisak to face Croatia, the World champion. The hosts took three points and won the 1st place in Group D. Russia defeated Germany in Hamm (Group A), and grabbed the last available ticket for the Super Final (Zagreb, April 5 – 7).

Super Final

Pairings for the quarterfinals (April 5)
Hungary (1st place Group A) – Montenegro (2nd Group C)
Spain (1st Group B) – Serbia (2nd Group D)
Italy (1st Group C) – Russia (2nd Group A)
Croatia (1st Group D) – Greece (2nd Group B)

(The teams ranked 1 – 4 will qualify for the World League Final Eight, which will be held in Belgrade in June. Serbia is already qualified for the F8, as a host. If Serbs don’t advance to the semifinals in Zagreb, only three medal winners will earn their spots at the Final Eight)

Group A

Russia convincingly beat home team Germany in Hamm to secure 2nd place in the group. Until the middle of the second period, it was an even encounter. In the 13th minute, Germany trailed 5:6. Russia netted 4 goals in a row to jump to a 10:5 lead (19th minute), which determined the rest of the match. The Germans couldn’t recover from the shock. The Russians, led by Kharkov, Kholod, and Lisunov (three goals each), maintained a 5-goal advantage by the 30th minute. By scoring three goals in the last 120 seconds, they increased the margin of their win to 8 (18:10).

Hungary, which secured the 1st place earlier, traveled to Malta. The Hungarians played without several main players, but a young team beat the hosts easily – 24:8.

Group B

Favorites had no mercy. Spain did a clean job against The Netherlands (14:7) in Castellon. The Greeks blew away Ukraine (24:5) in Kharkiv.
Spain and Greece collected 15 points each. Spain finished atop the group thanks to a better head-to-head record . Greece beat Spain in Barcelona (7:5), while Spain defeated Greece in Piraeus by 3 goals (7:4).

Group C

Before the last round, everything was clear in this group. Italy won the 1st place, Montenegro went through as second, while France didn’t qualify for the Super Final.

So, an encounter between Montenegro and France, that took place in Niksic, had no importance for the standings. Because of that, a few important Montenegro players missed the match. However, the hosts collected the points, but they hadn’t an easy task. Montenegro led for most of the time, but its advantage was never larger than 2 goals. At halftime, the sides were at the same starting point. The score was 6:6. The visitors equalized once more (7:7) in the middle of the third, but the home team didn’t let France make a surprise. Montenegro recorded a 10:8 win.

Group D

The big water polo classic – Croatia vs. Serbia decided the outcome of the race for the 1st place. Three months ago, Serbia defeated Croatia after penalty shootout (12:10). Before today’s encounter in Sisak, the Serbs had 8, Croatia 7 points. Both teams needed a victory to take the 1st place in the Group. Head coaches Ivica Tucak (Croatia) and Dejan Savic (Serbia) didn’t make experiments. Both came with their best players, but the match didn’t see a thrilling battle, as it is expected of every encounter between these two powerhouses.

The Croats took an early 1:0 lead. After a lot of missed chances (including six man-ups), the Serbs scored their first goal for 1:1 in the 11th minute. Deep into the second quarter, the hosts gained their first 2-goal lead (3:1). From that point on, Croatia was constantly in front. Croatia, the winner of the 1st LEN Europa Cup, held in 2018, dominated the third quarter and managed to build a 4-goal gap (9:5 and 10:6). Early in the 4th period, the home team went 11:6 up and there was no way back for Serbia. Croatia celebrated a 12:9 win. The MVP of the match was left-handed Maro Jokovic, who scored 4 goals for Croatia.


Group A

Germany 10:18 Russia
(3:4, 2:5, 3:3, 2:6)

Germany: Reibel 3, Real 3, Eidner 2, Preuss, Stamm.
Russia: Kharkov 3, Kholod 3, Lisunov 3,Derviankin 2, Nagaev 2, Vasilev 2, Suchkov, Kiselev, Merkulov.

Malta 8:24 Hungary
(2:6, 1:7, 3:6, 2:5)

Malta: J. Camilleri 3, M. Zammit 2, Abela, Cousin, D. Zammit.
Hungary: Nemet 5, Varnai 3, Angyal 3, Pasztor 3, Pohl 2, Sedlmayer 2, A. Nagy 2, Gyafras 2, K. Manhercz, G. Kovacs.

1 Hungary 6 – 17
2 Russia 6 – 12
3 Germany 6 – 7
4 Malta 6 – 0

Group B

Ukraine 5:24 Greece
(1:6, 1:8, 2:7, 1:3)

Ukraine: Kryvolapov, Abramov, Gusakov, Aleksieiev, Dyadyura,
Greece: Gkouvetsis 7, Vlachopoulos 5, Dervisis 3,, Argyropoulos 3 Kapotsis 2 ,Prekas, Nikolaidis, Papanastasiou, Kakaris

Spain 14:7 Netherlands
(3:2, 3:2, 5:1, 3:2)

Spain 4, Munnarriz 3, Bustos 2, Larumbe 2, Perrone, Pericas.
Netherlands: Lucas 2, Van Ijperen 2, Gbadamassi, Nispeling, M. Filipovic.

1 Spain 6 – 15
2 Greece 6 – 15
3 The Netherlands 6 – 6
4 Ukraine 6 – 0

Group C

Montenegro 10:8 France
(3:2, 3:4, 2:1, 2:1)

Montenegro: Dj. Radovic 2, Ukropina 2, Draskovic 2, Murisic 2, M. Petkovic, Popadic.
France: Marzouki 4, Crousillat 3, Canonne.

1 Italy 4 – 10
2 Montenegro 4 – 8
3 France 4 – 0

Group D

Croatia 12:9 Serbia
(1:0, 4:4, 5:2, 2:3)

Croatia: Jokovic 4, Macan 2, Vukicevic 2, Buslje, Milos, Vrlic, Garcia.
Serbia:Filipovic 2, Prlainovic 2, S. Mitrovic 2, Mandic 2, Aleksic.

1 Croatia 4 – 10
2 Serbia 4 – 8
3 Romania 4 – 0

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