Europe

Europa Cup: All favorites go through, Hungary and Italy were perfect

New water polo competition in Europe brought us a new excitement. After 26 played games on three Preliminary Round tournaments in three different countries, we got eight participants of the LEN Europa Cup Superfinal tournament which will be held from 5th to 8th of April.

And clearly all of the favorites qualified for this final event, but only Hungary and Italy managed to do it with the perfect record. The Hungarians won the group that was played in Kecskemet.

They started the tournament with a convincing 16:5 over Georgia, while on the second match day Hungary had some tougher job against Romania (10:7).

As expected, their main rival was Spain and it was a game Hungary won 8:7. In that match the home team entered the last quarter with an 8:4 lead, but then Espanol, Mallarch and Gutierrez scored three times in a row. So, we got an exciting finish in the last minute and a half. Fortunately for the Hungarians, their defense didn’t let any more mistakes so result didn’t change.

One of the surprises in this group was the fact that Spain finished third with level points as France, but the Tricolores were a better head to head. They won against Spain 9:6 as thanks to some very good water polo in the second and third quarters.

Ugo Crouisillat and Mehdi Marzouki were especially good. Crousillat scored four and Marzouki three goals.

It was very interesting in the Group B tournament which was played on Split. There the Serbian national team was victorious but only thanks to a better goal difference then Greece and Croatia who also had nine points each.

In the biggest derby of this tournament, Croatia won against Serbia 9:7. Barracudas had a great second and third quarter performance dominated by Maro Jokovic and Loren Fatovic.

But, it was different in the match with Greece that Croatia lost 6:4. We saw some tough defensive display and Greeks controlled the game from the beginning. Angelos Vlachopoulos scored twice and it was all over at the start of the last quarter when Alexandros Papanastasiou gave Greece a 6:3 lead.

So, in this triangle, it was Serbia’s victory against Greece 12:10 that led the Dolphins to the top spot in this group. This was probably the best display of Serbia in Split as it had a comfortable four goals lead at the halftime.

However, Greece showed its quality in the last quarter when after a goal from Konstantinos Mourkis came to just one goal deficit a minute and 13 seconds before the end. It was Dusan Mandic’s goal in the next offense that solved any dilemma.

And there was no dilemma at the Group C tournament in Palermo. Italians were dominant with three wins over Russia, Germany, and Montenegro. As expected, their toughest job was against Montenegro, but they recorded a victory 9:5.

As for the Montenegrins, they won the second place and a visa for the Super Final thanks to a narrow win against Russia (9:8). The winner was decided a minute and 14 seconds before then end when Aleksandar Radovic gave Montenegro a big two-goal lead.

Day 1, February 15

Malta – Serbia 3:17
Romania – France 7:14
Greece – Croatia 4:6
Hungary – Georgia 16:5

Day 2, February 16

Netherlands – Malta 12:8
Serbia – Greece 12:10
Montenegro – Russia 9:8
Georgia – Spain 5:11
Croatia – Netherlands 16:4
Italy – Germany 16:4
Hungary – Romania 10:7

Day 3, February 17

Romania – Georgia 5:5
Serbia – Netherlands 15:7
France – Spain 9:6
Russia – Germany 11:11
Greece – Malta 20:2
Georgia – France 4:10
Croatia – Serbia 9:7
Hungary – Spain 8:7
Montenegro – Italy 5:9

Day 4, February 18

Spain – Romania 10:4
Netherlands – Greece 7:9
Hungary – France 9:5
Malta – Croatia 5:16
Germany – Montenegro 4:14
Italy – Russia 15:10

Standings

Group A (Kecskemet, Hungary)

1. Hungary 4 games – 12 pts
2. France 4 – 6
3. Spain 4 – 6
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4. Romania 4 – 4
5. Georgia 4 – 1

Group B (Split, Croatia)

1. Serbia 4 – 9
2. Greece 4 – 9
3. Croatia 4 – 9
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4. The Netherlands 4 – 3
5. Malta 4 – 0

Group C (Palermo, Italy)

1. Italy 3 – 9
2. Montenegro 3 – 6
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3. Russia 3 – 1
4. Germany 3 – 1

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