Champions League

It’s time for spectacular show! Final Eight is ready to start

Photo: final8genoa.com

The longest ever competition in the LEN Champions League will be completed on Saturday. The CHL Final Eight, which is world’s most important water polo tournament for clubs will be held in Genoa from 7 to 9 June.

For the first time, eight teams will compete in the final tournament. Pro Recco, as a technical host was already qualified before the start of the season, while Olympiacos, Jug, Barceloneta, Brescia, Eger, Szolnok and Spandau 04 successfully finished their races for the F8.
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Quarterfinals, 7 June

16.00 Olympiacos (Greece) – Spandau (Germany)

Olympiacos
Greatest successes in CHL: winner 2002.
Champions League 2016/17: 6th place.
Road to Genoa: 1st place in Group A.

Spandau 04
Greatest successes in CHL: winner 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989.
Champions League 2016/17: 5th in A group of Preliminary competition.
Road to Genoa: 4th place in Group B

The tournament will be opened by an encounter between two former European champions. 2002 winner Olympiacos will face Spandau 04, which won 4 titles in the Champions Cup. Spandau 04 has a richer history, but Olympiacos is a favorite this time. Spandau its biggest successes achieved 30 years ago.

This season, the Berlin-based side produced a big surprise by securing a spot in the Final Eight, while Olympiacos dominated A group. But, the Greeks mustn’t underestimate “the surprise team” of the 2017/18 Champions League. Spandau beat title-holder Szolnok (10:9) and Eger (10:9) in Berlin, while it suffered a narrow 9:10 loss to Pro Recco in the game which was also played in the capital of Germany.

17.30 Jug (Croatia) – Szolnok (Hungary)

Jug
Greatest successes in CHL: winner 1981, 2001,2006, 2016.
Champions League 2016/17: 2nd place
Road to Genoa: 2nd place in Group A

Szolnok

Greatest successes in CHL: winner 2017.
Season 2016/17: winner
Road to Genoa: 3rd place in Group B

The highlight of the quarterfinals should be the match Jug-Szolnok, which will be a replay of the last season’s Champions League final. A year ago, in the final played in Budapest, Szolnok convincingly beat the Croats (10:5), but the Hungarians have had a lot of ups and downs this season. They suffered four losses in the Champions League and they didn’t manage to defend the Hungarian title. Jug also lost four games, but it played in Group A, which was stronger than Group B. The Croats dominated in the Regional League, as well as in national competitions. Both teams are eyeing the winning trophy in the Champions League, so this should be a very thrilling clash.

Prlainovic misses the tournament

The latest news from Szolnok disappointed the club’s fans. One of the best players in the world Andrija Prlainovic will miss the tournament because of injury. Prlainovic is the only water polo player who won 4 titles of European champion with 4 different clubs (Partizan, Crvena Zvezda, Pro Recco, Szolnok).

19.00 Barceloneta (Spain) – Eger (Hungary)

Barceloneta
Greatest successes in CHL: winner in 2014
Champions League 2016/17: 4th place in Group A of of Preliminary competition.
Road to Genoa: 3rd place in Group A.

Eger
Greatest successes in CHL: 4th place in 2017.
Champions League 2016/17: 4th place.
Road to Genoa: 2nd place in Group B.

Barceloneta and Eger aren’t in a circle of clubs which are very close to the trophy, but nothing is impossible. Barceloneta water polo players made a big surprise in 2014 Champions League when they won the title in front of their supporters in Barcelona. Next year, they clinched the bronze medal (as well as in 2013). Afterward, they didn’t reach the semifinals until this season. Eger’s biggest success in the Champions League was the 4th place last year. Both teams didn’t start the season well. After 5 rounds of the CHL, Barceloneta had 6 points, Eger had a point more. They played much better from January and earned high placements in their respective groups. It isn’t easy to predict the outcome of this quarterfinal encounter.

20.30 Pro Recco (Italy) – Brescia (Italy)

Pro Recco
Greatest successes in CHL: winner 1965, 1984, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015.
Season 2016/17: 3rd place.
Road to Genoa: host (1st place in Group B)

Brescia
Greatest successes in CHL: 5th place 2014 &2017 (Euro Cup winner 2002, 2003, 2006, 2016)
Season 2016/17: 5th place.
Road to Genoa: 4th place in Group A

The last quarterfinal match will see the all-Italian battle, Pro Recco will face Brescia.

Since 2003, Pro Recco has been the strongest favorite in the Champions League almost every year. But, from 2008 until now, the mighty team from Genoa has won “just” three Champions League (2010, 2012, 2015. The Italians didn’t enter the competition in the season 2012/13). As a technical host, Pro Recco was directly qualified for the Final Eight and it was the most successful club in the Preliminary Competition with 13 wins and a loss to Szolnok in Hungary. Brescia secured its F8 berth in the last round of Group A.

This will be the 5th duel between two best Italian clubs this season. The Genoa-based team has achieved 4 wins for now. It is hard to expect that Brescia can break the row of losses.

The venue

Photo: final8genoa.com (click to enlarge)

The Final Eight will be staged at the Sciorba Swimming Center in Genoa.

For the F8 two extra stands will be set up, one of the two in parallel to the existing one, the other positioned behind the goal post on the upstream side.

The telescopic roof will be opened for more attractive atmosphere.

Four national champions in Genoa

Only four of eight F8 participants won titles in their national championships this season. Pro Recco clinched its 32nd crown in Italy, beating Brescia in the final. Olympiacos continued domination in Greece, as well as Barceloneta in Spain. Jug won the 3rd consecutive title of Croatian champion. Szolnok was defeated by Ferencvaros in the final series of the Hungarian playoffs. Eger took the 3rd iplace n Hungary, while Spandau didn’t manage to win its fifth consecutive winning trophy in Germany. The Berlin-based club was defeated by Hannover in the finals.

Champions League Final Eight, Genoa 7-9 June

Thursday 7 June

Quarterfinals
16.00 Olympiacos – Spandau 04 (Match 1)
17.30 Jug – Szolnok (Match 2)
19.00 Eger – Barceloneta (Match 3)
20.30 Pro Recco – Brescia (Match 4)

Friday 8 June

Semifinal 5 – 8
16.00 losers Matches 1 and 3
17.30 losers matches 2 and 4

Semifinal 1 – 4
19.00 winners matches 1 and 3
20.30 winners matches 2 and 4

Saturday 9 June

16.00 For places 7-8
17.30 For places 5-6
19.00 Bronze medal game
20.30 Champions League Final

ALL CHAMPIONS

2016 / 2017: Szolnok VSK (Hungary)
2015 / 2016: VK Jug Dubrovnik (Croatia)
2014 / 2015: Pro Recco (Italy)
2013 / 2014: Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta (Spain)
2012 / 2013: VK Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)
2011 / 2012: ASD Pro Recco (Italy)
2010 / 2011: VK Partizan (Serbia)
2009 / 2010: ASD Pro Recco (Italy)
2008 / 2009: VK Primorac Kotor (Montenegro)
2007 / 2008: ASD Pro Recco (Italy)
2006 / 2007: ASD Pro Recco (Italy)
2005 / 2006: VK Jug Dubrovnik (Croatia)
2004 / 2005: CN Posillipo Naples (Italy)
2003 / 2004: Domino BHSE Budapest(Hungary)
2002 / 2003: ASD Pro Recco (Italy)
2001 / 2002: Olympiacos Pireaus CFP (Greece)
2000 / 2001: VK Jug Dubrovnik (Croatia)
1999 / 2000: VK Becej Nis Naftagas (Serbia)
1998 / 1999: Splitska Banka Split (Croatia)
1997 / 1998: CN Posillipo Naples (Italy)
1996 / 1997: CN Posillipo Naples (Italy)
1995 / 1996: HAVK Mladost (Croatia)
1994 / 1995: CN Catalunya (Spain)
1993 / 1994: Újpesti TE (Hungary)
1992 / 1993: Jadran Koteks Split (Croatia)
1991 / 1992: Jadran Koteks Split (Croatia)
1990 / 1991: HAVK Mladost (Yugoslavia)
1989 / 1990: HAVK Mladost(Yugoslavia)
1988 / 1989: Spandau Berlin (West Germany)
1987 / 1988: Sisley Pescara (Italy)
1986 / 1987: Spandau Berlin (West Germany)
1985 / 1986: Spandau Berlin (West Germany)
1984 / 1985: Vasas SC (Hungary)
1983 / 1984: ASD Pro Recco (Italy)
1982 / 1983: Spandau Berlin(West Germany)
1981 / 1982: CN Barcelona (Spain)
1980 / 1981: VK Jug Dubrovnik (Yugoslavia)
1979 / 1980: Vasas SC (Hungary)
1978 / 1979: OSC Budapest (Hungary)
1977 / 1978: Circolo Canottieri Naples (Italy)
1976 / 1977: CSK VMF Moscow (URSS)
1975 / 1976: Partizan Belgrade (Yugoslavia)
1974 / 1975: Partizan Belgrade (Yugoslavia)
1976 / 1974: MUG Moscow (URSS)
1972 / 1973: OSC Budapest(Hungary)
1971 / 1972: Mladost Zagreb (Yugoslavia)
1970 / 1971: Partizan Belgrade (Yugoslavia)
1969 / 1970: Mladost Zagreb (Yugoslavia)
1968 / 1969: Mladost Zagreb (Yugoslavia)
1967 / 1968: Mladost Zagreb (Yugoslavia)
1966 / 1967: Partizan Belgrade (Yugoslavia)
1965 / 1966: Partizan Belgrade (Yugoslavia)
1964 / 1965: Recco (Italy)
1963 / 1964: Partizan Belgrade (Yugoslavia)

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