The final battle for the first trophy in this season’s European club competitions starts on Wednesday. Oradea (Romania) will host Ferencvaros (Hungary) in the first leg of the LEN Euro Cup final. The rematch is scheduled for April 5th, in Budapest.
Oradea and Ferencvaros play the historic final because the LEN Euro Cup will see the new title-holder, for sure. None of these clubs has won the trophy in this competition before. For Ferencvaros this is the third Euro cup final. The Hungarian club lost the finals in 1995 and 1997. Oradea (founded 2003) is a debutant in a final of European water polo club competitions.
Oradea has a chance to become the first Romanian club to win a trophy in European water polo club competitions. On the other side, Hungary is famous for its big water polo clubs and champions, but this country has been waiting for a European club trophy for almost a decade, since 2008, when Szeged took the first place in the Euro cup (then called LEN Trophy).
The story about Ferencvaros
Ferencvaros, the winner of four titles in the discontinued competition Cup Winner’s Cup (1975, 1978, 1979 and 1998), this season started very ambitiously. Their additions last summer were the Olympic champion from Serbia Stefan Mitrovic, the famous Hungarians Daniel Varga and Norbert Madaras (all three came from Szolnok) and Balasz Szirany, who came back to Ferencvaros, after 12 years spent in Spain and Italy.
In the 2017 LEN Euro Cup, Ferencvaros started from the 1st qualification round, and since then they have played nine matches in which they have achieved eight wins. After two qualification rounds, Ferencvaros eliminated Primorje in the quarter finals with ease, by winning in both matches (13-9 in Rijeka and 12-8 in Budapest). The only defeat the Hungarians suffered in the first leg of the semifinal when Jadran (Montenegro) beat them 12-11. In the dramatic rematch in Budapest, “Fradi” won 6-4. Jadran had a minimal lead (4-3), but in the last period the home team climbed back. The decisive goal was scored by Norbert Madaras, 55 seconds by the end of the second game.
The story about Oradea
Oradea didn’t have many acquisitions last summer, but they signed a contract with Nikola Radjen. The experienced Serbian center back started to play on February 17th, after the expiration of a two-year suspension, due to positive cocaine doping test.
The Romanian club started their 2017 Euro Cup campaign as the losing team in the 3rd round of the Champions League qualifications. They were eliminated by Hannover. The aggregate result was 23-18. The players of Hannover won the game in their home pool (12-7), while in Oradea two sides played an 11-11 draw.
In the LEN Euro Cup quarter finals, they were better than Canottieri (Italy). The Romanians won both matches (11-7 at home, 8-5 in Naples). In the semifinals, Oradea faced another Italian team, Sport Management from Verona. The Italians achieved a close victory in the first leg (12-10). The encounter in Oradea was a drama with a happy ending in Oradea’s favor. Sport Management led 3-2 before the last period. But, Romanians scored three goals in 3:34 in the last quarter for a 5-3 win. Penalty shootout gave the answer on the question who will play in finals. The goalie of Oradea Gojko Pijetlovic stopped two shots. Nikola Radjen, in his debut for Oradea, scored the last goal for the final score 9-6.
Before the first match against Ferencvaros Radjen said:
– We respect Ferencvaros, but I believe in victory. I trust my team and I am sure that, with a support of our fans, we can defeat the Hungarian team. The upcoming game will be the celebration of water polo in Oradea. We want to offer people in Oradea a match to remember for a long time. I am feeling very well in Oradea, thanks to everyone in the club. I am satisfied with my debut. In the matches against Ferencvaros, I’ll do everything to show again that I haven’t forgotten to play water polo. I have got this sport in blood.
2017 Euro Cup Final
Leg 1 (March 22nd, 2017)
CSM Oradea (Romania) – Ferencvaros (Hungary) 19.00 (local time)
Leg 2 (April 5th, 2017)
Ferencvaros (Hungary) – CSM Oradea (Romania)
Interesting facts about Euro Cup
– The Euro Cup was inaugurated in 1992. Then it was called the LEN Trophy. In 2011 the name of competition was changed to LEN Euro Cup.
– Brescia (Italy) is the most successful club in the LEN Euro Cup history. The players of Brescia claimed four gold medals (2002, 2003, 2006, and 2016). This season they didn’t defend the trophy that they won in the previous Euro Cup because Brescia is competing in the LEN Champions League.
– Savona (Italy) and Ujpest (Hungary) won three trophies each, Barcelona was the winner two times.
– The most decorated water polo player in the history of competition is Goran Fiorentini. The Italian, who was born in Croatia, won five trophies, three as a player of Brescia (2002, 2003, 2006) and two with Savona (2011 and 2012). The second place on the list of the most successful players in this competition holds Fiorentini’s former team-mate Aleksandar Ciric. The Serbian won three trophies with Brescia (2002, 2003 and 2006) and one as a player of Radnicki (2013).
– Only one player among the participants of this season’s final matches has already won LEN Euro Cup. The Olympic champion Gojko Pijetlovic, a goalkeeper of Serbia’s national team and Oradea, took the 2010 LEN Euro Cup, as a player of Cattaro (Montenegro).
– Finalists have four foreign players each. Six of them are from Serbia. Those who play for Oradea are Gojko Pijetlovic, Mateja Asanovic and Nikola Radjen, the returnee to water polo after a two-year suspension. Stefan Mitrovic, Marko Avramovic, and Marko Cuk are members of Ferencvaros. All of them had played for Partizan. Pijetlovic, Radjen and Cuk played for Vojvodina as well. The fourth foreigner in Ferencvaros is the Spaniard Balasz Szirany, but he is a native Hungarian. Besides the Serbs and the Romanians in Oradea plays Boris Pavlovic (Croatia).
– Six clubs have won trophies in the LEN Euro Cup and in the LEN Champions league as well: Partizan (7 titles in the LEN Champions League, 1 in LEN Euro cup), Mladost (7 CL, 1 EC), Jug (4 CL, 1 EC), Barcelona (1 CL, 1 EC), Ujpest (1 CL, 3 EC) and Pescara (1 CL, 1EC).
– Winner of the Euro cup has never won the European Super Cup (match between the reigning champions of the LEN Champions League and the LEN Euro Cup).
All time winner’s list
1992/93 Ujpest Budapest (Hungary)
1993/94 Roma (Italy)
1994/95 Barcelona (Spain)
1995/96 Pescara (Italy)
1996/97 Ujpest Budapest (Hungary)
1997/98 Partizan Belgrade (Yugoslavia/Serbia)
1998/99 Ujpest Budapest (Hungary)
1999/00 Jug Dubrovnik (Croatia)
2000/01 Mladost Zagreb (Croatia)
2001/02 Brescia (Italy)
2002/03 Brescia (Italy)
2003/04 Barcelona (Spain)
2004/05 Savona (Italy)
2005/06 Brescia (Italy)
2006/07 Sintez Kazan (Russia)
2007/08 Sturm Chekhov (Russia)
2008/09 Szeged (Hungary)
2009/10 Cattaro Kotor (Montenegro)
2010/11 Savona (Italy)
2011/12 Savona (Italy)
2012/13 Radnicki Kragujevac (Serbia)
2013/14 Spartak Volgograd (Russia)
2014/15 Posillipo Naples (Italy)
2015/16 Brescia (Italy)
Titles by clubs – 4: Brescia, 3: Ujpest and Savona, 2: Barcelona, 1: Pescara, Partizan, Mladost, Sintez, Szeged, Roma, Jug, Sturm, Cattaro, Radnicki, Spartak, Posilipo.