After the fifth round of the FINA Water Polo World League preliminary stage in Europe, three teams clinched their spots at the Super final tournament.
Serbia and Italy secured first places in their groups and joined Russia at the Final Eight. Last week FINA decided that the Super final tournament will be held in Moskow, so Russia is automatically qualified, as host.
The only question is the winner of Group B. The chances for taking the first place still have Croatia and Greece.
Title-holder Serbia didn’t show any mercy in the game against Germany in Zrenjanin. The Olympic champions, who played without injured captain Filip Filipovic and Stefan Mitrovic, demolished the Germans in Zrenjanin – 20-3 (5-1, 5-0,7-1, 3-1). The Serbs were highly inspired because they had a huge support of their fans, so they didn’t slow down until the end. Almost every player of Serbia scored at least one goal.
In Group B the Croats had an easy job in Vukovar, where they hosted France. Croatia won 16-6. The home team led 5-3 after the first quarter and added six more goals in the second period for an 11-4 lead at the half-time. In the second half Croats, led by Loncar and Sukno, didn’t have any problems to finish the job which they started in the first 16 minutes.
Greece defeated the Netherlands in Den Haag 10-4, but the guests needed a lot of time to break the rivals. In the middle of the third quarter, the Greeks led 4-3. After that, they made a 5-0 rush for a 10-3 lead. The Dutch scored a consoling goal for the final score.
Croatia and Greece are tied at the top of the table. Both teams won 14 points each. In the last round, Croatia will host the Netherlands and Greece will travel to France. The Croats are still one big step closer to Moskow. If two teams stay tied, Croatia will take the first place because of better goal difference. Greece beat Croatia by two goals (10-8) in Athens in the previous round, in but in the first round, Croatia defeated Greece 11-6.
Italy beat Russia in Palermo. This match didn’t have a big importance after FINA’s decision that the Super final tournament will be held in Moskow. Despite that fact, the spectators in Palermo saw a great battle. After the first half, the score was 4-4. The Italians made a crucial step to the win in the third quarter, which they won 4-1. The difference of three goals stayed in the fourth quarter. The final score was 12-9.
Eight teams will participate at the Super final tournament in Moskow (20th – 25th June): host Russia, Serbia, Italy, the fourth representative of Europe and four national teams from the Intercontinental tournament in Gold Coast, Australia (25th – 30th April). Six teams will take part at the Intercontinental tournament: Australia, USA, China, Japan, New Zealand and Kazakhstan.
European Preliminaries, 5th round
Serbia – Germany 20-3 (5-1, 5-0, 7-1, 3-1)
Serbia: Pijetlovic 3, Prlainovic 3, Mandic 2, V. Rasovic 2, Cuk 2, Ubovic 2, Aleksic 2, S. Rasovic 2, Jaksic, Lazic.
Germany: Koesller , Pruss, Stamm.
Slovakia – Romania 6-5 (3-2, 2-2, 1-1, 0-0)
1. Serbia 5 games – 14 points
2. Slovakia 5 – 5
3. Romania 5– 4
4. Germany 5 – 4
Croatia – France 16-6 (5-3, 6-1, 2-0, 3-2)
Croatia: Loncar 3, Sukno 3, Buljubasic 2, Setka 2, Garcia 2, Bukic, Petkovic, Buslje, Krapic.
France: Blary 2, Crousillat 2, Cannone, Rocchietta.
Netherlands – Greece 4-10 (1-2, 1-2, 1-1, 1-5)
1. Croatia 5 – 12
2. Greece 5 – 12
3. Netherlands 5 – 6
4. France 5 – 0
Italy – Russia 12-9 (2-2, 2-2, 4-1, 4-4)
Italy:Di Fulvio 3, Velotto 2, Iodice 2, Aicardi 2, Cannela, Gallo, Figlioli.
Russia:Merkulov 4, Lisunov 3, Ashaev, Lazarev.
1.Italy 3 – 9
2.Russia 3 – 6
3.Georgia 3 – 0