Champions League

F6 preview: Jug tries to retain, Pro Recco hunts 9th title

LEN Champions league
Photo: len.eu/facebook

The highlight of the water polo club season gets underway! The Final Six of the 2017 Champions league will be held in Budapest from Thursday to Saturday.

The title-holder Jug will try to retain the trophy in a huge competition. Beside Jug (Croatia), for the European title will fight two clubs from Hungary: Szolnok and Eger, two teams from Italy: Pro Recco and Brescia, and Olympiacos (Greece). Three of these clubs have already won the trophy in the Champions league. Pro Recco is the record-holder with 8 titles, Jug has 4, and Olympiacos won 1 trophy.

Jug will try to keep the title, but as usual, the biggest favourite is Pro Recco, which seeks 9th European title, after very disappointing participation at 2016 Final Six, that had been played in Budapest, too. Last year, Pro Recco took the 4th place. The Italians were defeated in the match against Jug in the semifinals. That loss was followed by a new defeat. Szolnok beat them in the match for the bronze medal. The price of the failure was paid by the coach Amedeo Pomilio. Just after the end of the season, he was dismissed, and Pro Recco replaced him with legendary Vladimir Vujasinovic.

On Friday Pro Recco will play its first match at F6 because the champions of Italy are directly qualified for the semifinals as winners of Group B. The best in Group A was Szolnok, the only F6 competitor which haven’t been defeated in any competition this season. So, we will leave aside the tales about Pro Recco and Szolnok and first of all, see what is going to happen tomorrow in quarter-finals.

QF 1: Olympiacos – Jug (Thursday, May 25th,19:30)

The 2017 Final Six opens the encounter between clubs which ended the Champions league last season. Jug will meet Olympiacos. Last season Jug beat Olympiacos by 6-5 in the final game. In the current season, Olympiacos took the second place in Group A while Jug was the 3rd in Group B.

In the 2017 Champions league, Olympiacos had been unbeaten until the Day 9, when they were defeated by Szolnok in Athens. In the last round, which was irrelevant for the Athens’ team since they have been already locked to the 2nd position at that time, they lost the match in Brescia.

Olympiacos’s players came in Budapest after bad introduction to the Final Six. Last weekend in the final game of the Greek cup, they were defeated by Vouliagmeni. Olympiacos’s unbeaten run of 124th consecutive wins within the domestic competitions was ended in that match.

Tomorrow we’ll see if Olympiacos recovered from the disappointing finishes of the Champions league and domestic competitions.

Jug Kobescak and josip vrlic at final six 2016

Vjekoslav Kobescak and Josip Vrlic (Jug) at F6 2016 Photo: jug.hr

Jug had a lot of ups and downs in this season. The team from Dubrovnik secured their spot at F6 a round before the end, but in the 10th round, they were defeated by Eger, which dropped them down to 3rd place in Group B, which meant that Jug will have a much tougher job than the Hungarians in quarter-finals.

Unlike Olympiacos, Jug had the good finish of the domestic season. The team from the Gruz pool won a new title, the 31st national title and got more self-confidence before the Final Six.

The winner in this quarter-finals will play against Pro Recco in the semifinals.

Olympiacos Piraeus (Greece)
CHL 2015/2016: 2nd place
Best result: winner (2002)
Final 4/6 appearances: 2001 (2.), 2002 (1.), 2007 (4.), 2016 (2.)
CHL 2016/17: 2nd place in Group A with 22 points (7 wins, 2 lost games, 1 draw)
Domestic league: 31 titles

Jug CO (Croatia)
CHL 2015/16: winner
Best result: winner (1981, 2001, 2006, 2016)
Final 4/6 appearances: 2001 (1.), 2002 (4.), 2005 (4.), 2006 (1.), 2007 (2.), 2008 (2.), 2009
(3.), 2010 (4.), 2013 (2.), 2015 (4.), 2016 (1.)
CHL 2016/17: 3rd place in Group B with 17 points (5 wins, 3 lost games, 2 draws)
Domestic league: 13 titles (Croatia) + 14 titles (Yugoslavia)

QF 2: Eger – Brescia (Thursday, May 25th, 20:30)

The second quarter-final will bring the encounter between Brescia and Eger, the only two of six participants which didn’t win a domestic title this season. They are the clubs which are least likely to win the competition, but nothing is impossible. Szolnok awaits the winner of this clash.

Both clubs had fine endings in the preliminary part of the Champions league. Eger overtook Jug in the last round and avoided Olympiacos in the semifinals. Brescia was better than OSC in a close run for the 3rd place in Group A.

Eger and Brescia have never played in the semifinals. So, one thing is sure – the winner will reach its historic success.

ZF Eger (Hungary)
CHL 2015/16: 6th place
Best result: 5. (2015)
Final 4/6 appearances: 2015 (5.), 2016 (6.)
CHL 2016/17: 2nd place in Group B (6 wins, 4 lost games)
Domestic league: 3 titles

AN Brescia (Italy)
CHL 2015/16: winner of Euro Cup (eliminated in the third qualification round CHL)
Best result: 5. (2014)
Final 4/6 appearances: 2014 (5.)
CHL 2016/17: 3r place in Group A with 17 points (5 wins, 3 lost games, 2 draws)
Domestic league: 1 title

Semifinalists: Pro Recco and Szolnok

Even before the start of the season, Pro Recco and Szolnok have been proclaimed as the biggest favourites for the trophy, with good reasons! In the preliminary stage, both teams remained unbeaten. Pro Recco gained all 30 points, Szolnok achieved 9 wins and one match ended in a draw (against Olympiacos). Both convincingly won the “double crown” (championship and Cup) in domestic competitions. Szolnok is unbeaten this season in all competitions. The only stain on the perfect Recco’s season is the defeat against Brescia in the Italian league, but that failure didn’t disrupt its way to the national title.

Prlainovic, Vujasinovic

Andrija Prlainovic and Vladimir Vujasinovic Photo:i.c

The strongest Szolnok’s addition last summer was Andrija Prlainovic. On some way, this is “the double acquisition”, because Prlainovic left the biggest Szolnok’ rival Pro Recco. On the other side, Pro Recco did an important job by bringing head coach Vladimir Vujasinovic, who had had several invitations to come in Recco, where he achieved a lot as a player. Last summer he couldn’t refuse a new offer.

Szolnok (Hungary)
CHL 2015/16: bronze medallist
Best result: bronze medal (2016)
Final 4/6 appearances: 2015 (6.), 2016 (3.)
CHL 2016/17: 1st place in Group A with 28 points (9 wins and 1 draw)
Domestic league: 9 titles

Pro Recco (Italy)
CHL 2015/16: 4th place
Best result: winner (1965, 1984, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015)
Final 4/6 appearances: 2005 (3.), 2006 (2.), 2007 (1.), 2008 (1.), 2009 (2.), 2010 (1.), 2011
(2.), 2012 (1.), 2014 (6.), 2015 (1.), 2016 (4.)
CHL 2016/17: 1st place in Group B with 30 points (10 wins)
Domestic league: 31 titles

Schedule

Day 1, 25 May, Thursday

Quarter-finals

19.00 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)
20.30 ZF Eger (HUN) v AN Brescia (ITA)

Day 2, 26 May, Friday

For places 5-6
17.30 Losers of the QFs

Semi-finals

19.00 Pro Recco (ITA) v Olympiacos/Jug
20.30 Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v Eger/Brescia

Day 3, 27 May, Saturday

15.15 Bronze medal match
16.45 Champions League Final

Perisic, Felugo, Milanovic, Porzio…

The most decorated players in the history of the Champions league (earlier European Champions Cup and Euroleague) are Djordje Perisic and Maurizio Felugo. Perisic won 6 titles with Partizan (1963/64, 1965/66, 1966/67, 1970/71,1974/75, 1975/76). Maurizio Felugo, who is Recco general director now won his 1st trophy when he played for Posillipo (2004/2005). This title was followed by 5 trophies with Pro Recco (2006/07; 2007/08; 2009/10; 2011/12; 2014/15).

Vladimir Vujasinovic, Recco’s coach, has a chance to become the fifth person who has won titles as a player and as a coach, too. Titles in different roles have Ozren Bonacic (player and coach Mladost), Giuseppe Porzio (player Posilllipo, coach Pro Recco), Igor Milanovic (player Mladost and Catalunya, coach Partizan and Pro Recco) and Vjekoslav Kobescak (player Mladost, coach Jug).
Vujasinovic clinched four trophies as a player: 2002/03, 2006/07, 2007/08 (Pro Recco), and 2010/11 (Partizan).

Only Andrija Prlainovic and Dusko Pijetlovic won three titles with three different clubs, for three years in a row. They did it together, by winning titles with Partizan (2011), with Pro Recco (2012) and with Crvena Zvezda (2013). Now Pijetlovic plays for Pro Recco, Prlainovic for Szolnok.

Winners
2015 / 2016: VK Jug Dubrovnik (CRO)
2014 / 2015: Pro Recco (ITA)
2013 / 2014: Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta (ESP)
2012 / 2013: VK Crvena Zvezda (SRB)
2011 / 2012: ASD Pro Recco (ITA)
2010 / 2011: VK Partizan (SRB)
2009 / 2010: ASD Pro Recco (ITA)
2008 / 2009: VK Primorac Kotor (MNE)
2007 / 2008: ASD Pro Recco (ITA)
2006 / 2007: ASD Pro Recco (ITA)
2005 / 2006: VK Jug Dubrovnik (CRO)
2004 / 2005: CN Posillipo Naples (ITA)
2003 / 2004: Domino BHSE Budapest(HUN)
2002 / 2003: ASD Pro Recco (ITA)
2001 / 2002: Olympiacos Pireaus CFP (GRE)
2000 / 2001: VK Jug Dubrovnik (CRO)
1999 / 2000: VK Becej Nis Naftagas (SRB)
1998 / 1999: Splitska Banka Split (CRO)
1997 / 1998: CN Posillipo Naples (ITA)
1996 / 1997: CN Posillipo Naples (ITA)
1995 / 1996: HAVK Mladost (CRO)
1994 / 1995: CN Catalunya (ESP)
1993 / 1994: Újpesti TE (HUN)
1992 / 1993: Jadran Koteks Split (CRO)
1991 / 1992: Jadran Koteks Split (CRO)
1990 / 1991: HAVK Mladost (YUG)
1989 / 1990: HAVK Mladost(YUG)
1988 / 1989: Spandau Berlin (GDR)
1987 / 1988: Sisley Pescara (ITA)
1986 / 1987: Spandau Berlin (GDR)
1985 / 1986: Spandau Berlin (GDR)
1984 / 1985: Vasas SC (HUN)
1983 / 1984: ASD Pro Recco (ITA)
1982 / 1983: Spandau Berlin(GDR)
1981 / 1982: CN Barcelona (ESP)
1980 / 1981: VK Jug Dubrovnik (YUG)
1979 / 1980: Vasas SC (HUN)
1978 / 1979: OSC Budapest (HUN)
1977 / 1978: Circolo Canottieri Naples (ITA)
1976 / 1977: CSK VMF Moscow (URSS)
1975 / 1976: Partizan Belgrade (YUG)
1974 / 1975: Partizan Belgrade (YUG)
1976 / 1974: MUG Moscow (URSS)
1972 / 1973: OSC Budapest(HUN)
1971 / 1972: Mladost Zagreb (YUG)
1970 / 1971: Partizan Belgrade (YUG)
1969 / 1970: Mladost Zagreb (YUG)
1968 / 1969: Mladost Zagreb (YUG)
1967 / 1968: Mladost Zagreb (YUG)
1966 / 1967: Partizan Belgrade (YUG)
1965 / 1966: Partizan Belgrade (YUG)
1964 / 1965: Recco (ITA)
1963 / 1964: Partizan Belgrade (YUG)

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