Champions League, Main Round, Day 1 PRE-GAME QUOTES

Group A – Tuesday

19.15 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)

Theodoros Vlachos, coach, Olympiacos
“We start a difficult series of matches in our group with a team that may seem weaker than the others, but a Champions League match is always important. We have to be very focused on our target from the start, which is to win every game. I think that this year, as the group has been created, qualifying will not be an easy task, although our aspirations in this event are high. This is a marathon with 14 games in such a difficult group, so we must avoid using big words in the beginning.”
Filip Filipovic, player, Olympiacos
“Tomorrow is the beginning of the Champions League 2022. I think that Olympiacos has to think only the win in his first game in the group. It is very important how we will start the competition because we need to improve our game especially in the transition point and we have to catch the rhythm for the next games too, because, as we all know, we have really difficult group this year and will be quite difficult to qualify for the Final 8. So I think we should not think about the opponent, Dinamo, Novi, Ferencvaros, whoever is in the other side, we just need to focus on ourselves, on our play and try to do our best. I’m inviting all Olympiacos fans, all families to come to the Papastrateio swimming pool and support us, because I think this year we need an extra men from the tribune. Olympiacos fans, come to Papastrateio pool, I can’t wait to see you!”
Zurab Rurua, assistant coach, Dinamo
“Our team is very motivated this year, we have the ambition to fight in every game and prove our strength. Olympiacos is certainly a very strong opponent, but we will do our best to ensure that they will not be dominant throughout the game.”
Saba Teshelashvili, player, Dinamo
“Playing against Olympiacos at the beginning of the season is a great challenge for me. I’ll do my best to be useful for my team.”
Irakli Razmadze, player, Dinamo
“First of all, I’m glad that we are back to the old system. It’s very important to start the season in a good way, I think we are in much better shape than last year and we will do our maximum to show our quality.”

19.15 Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v Jadran Split (CRO)

Elvis Fatovic, coach, Barceloneta
“We play against a very good team, built to play for trophies in this year in Croatia and Europe. They have five players who are invited to the national team, plus Olympic gold medallist Dobud and World champion Setka. We are happy to start playing the Champions League and from Tuesday our schedule till Christmas is very intensive. I believe that we are in good shape and training with Jug Dubrovnik was definitely helpful. Our young players had a chance to play a lot and in my opinion they played really well. We’ll play without Munarriz, but I believe he will be soon with us. I hope that our supporters will come to watch and enjoy a good game with a great opponent.”
Felipe Perrone, player, Barceloneta
“This is the first match in the Champions League and we are very excited to return playing at home after a year and a half. What motivates us the most is being with our people, with our fans. Jadran Split is a team that has strengthened a lot for this season. Players from team Mladost have arrived and they are on a high level. They also have Dobud who came from Pro Recco. Definitely, they have very high-quality players, they are a great team. It will surely be a very difficult match, very even. I am convinced that the spectators will enjoy it because both teams play a really interesting game.”
Dani Lopez, captain, Barceloneta
“We are very excited to be able to play the Champions League again at home with our people. We want to enjoy the best water polo competition in the world with our audience. In our debut we will face a very good team with experienced players in all positions. This season we have a younger team than in the previous years. We have to learn, improve and show our best water polo if we want to play in the Final 8, which is our main objective.”

Mile Smodlaka, coach, Jadran
“We had a great ‘trip’ so far in Champions League though it was a hard one. First, we had to go through first qualification round in Podgorica, then we hosted a tournament in Split for the second round and then had a play-off against Mladost Zagreb. We played 11 matches to reach the group stage, it is harder than in football. Because of that, my players are a bit tired, but we are playing better each game. Barceloneta is a real challenge, tough opponent. So far, we played against mainly weaker teams, now we will have a real test how strong we are this season. We have some new players such as Luka Bukic, Niksa Dobud, Konstantin Kharkov and Marino Cagalj, and goalkeeper Mate Anic is back. We have big goals this season, to win trophies in Croatia and to be competitive in Europe.”
Niksa Dobud, player, Jadran
“We are playing better and better. Still, we need some time to get in the right shape. We have a good mix of younger and more experienced players. Barceloneta is a strong team, full of Spanish national team players. We look forward to that game, it is a big challenge for us.”

19.45 VK Novi Beograd (SRB) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)

VUJASINOVIC Vladimir Head Coach LEN Champions League © G.Scala/Deepbluemedia/inside

Vladmir Vujasinovic, coach, Novi Beograd
“After a long period of time, Serbia has three participating teams in LEN Champions League. That is something which Serbian water polo deserves, because we are Olympic champions two times in a row, and also in this season we really have very strong clubs with so many quality players. As a team, we have very huge motive to show ourselves in a best possible way in the first game against Radnicki. We have already played against them in the Serbian Super league couple days ago, and we won. This time, we will give our best to win again, but also to show some progress in our game and offer a better performance.”

Radomir Drasovic, player, Novi Beograd
“We face a very though match against a very strong team. For sure, Radnicki is our biggest opponent in the Serbian national league, but this game will be great opportunity to compete with them at the highest level in Europe. This game is very important for us, we will try to win and to show our highest inspirations for this competition right at the beginning. This season will be very long and hard, so we will do our best to start it with a positive result.

Uros Stevanovic, coach, Radnicki
“We finally reached our goal and returned to the Champions League after six years. Ambitions are as high as last season, we want to win every match. I am sure we have great potential, but we will go from game to game and see how far we can get. The Champions League will be a great experience not only for the club but also for the players. Except Vrlic and Cuk, we don’t have players who have continuously played in the Champions League, while for the six junior national team players, this should be another step forward in their careers.”
Nikola Lukic, player, Radnicki
“We made a lot of mistakes in the previous match versus Novi Beograd that we tried to correct in the meantime. If we follow all directives of our coach, I believe we can win. I hope that we can qualify to the F8 and after that everything is possible. Our team is very talented and with strong work, we can reach far.”

20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)

Alessandro Bovo, coach, Brescia
“Tomorrow will see a tough game. They (Ferencvaros) are a very good team, even if they lost some important players during the summer. They are in shape, Denes Varga is playing great water polo and it will be interesting for us to play against them. We are ready.”
Vincenzo Renzuto, player, Brescia
“They still are a very strong team. We are working hard in order to improve our defensive schemes. We know that our concentration must be very high but we will give our 100% to win the game.”
Christian Presciutti, captain, Brescia
“Finally, we are in the main round. Tomorrow we will have a fascinating game against a nice squad. Against Savona we showed that we are growing but we have to think match after match because they are all different. I hope also for the pool to be full because we need our people to support us.”
Zsolt Varga, coach, FTC
„Both Brescia and FTC have changed a lot since last season. This group is probably the hardest one in recent years. Every match is very important and every point counts.”
Nemanja Ubovic, player, FTC
„I’m very excited to come back here to play with Fradi but it’ll be a really tough game because Brescia always fights until the very end, pushing itself to its limits. They have a very specific way of playing,especially at home where the familiar surroundings and the fans count a lot: they’re twenty percent better at home than away. We need to be well prepared.”

Group B – Wednesday

19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

Vjekoslav Kobescak, coach, Jug
“Very tough game is the one in the front of us. We have a new, very young team and we didn’t have serious game till now. We are really curious to see what it will look like at the very beginning of the Champions League.”
Alex Papanastasiou, player, Jug
“This is the first game of the season and we want to start well. We respect Hannover but at home we have no right to make mistakes.”
Konstantinos Kakaris, player, Jug
”This year Champions league returns to normal which for me is great news. It is very important to start with a win in the new season and we will do our best to get the first three points.”
Karsten Seehafer, coach, Hannover
„We had a very successful season last time, claimed the treble in Germany and finished 6th place in Europe. Now we are looking forward to winning the same trophies and reach the Final8. There was no change in the team, though we added a couple of young players. In Dubrovnik, it‘s not easy to play, they have a new team, new players in important positions, we will do our best and perhaps we may have an surprising result.“
Darko Brguljan, player, Hannover
„We showed a good performance last week when we won Cup. In Dubrovnik, it is always difficult to play, we are not complete and one player less in our roster can be problem, but we have nothing to lose. We respect Jug, they have a great coach and great players, this is only the first game but at the end, we want to be in Belgrade.“
Aleksander Radovic, player, Hannover
„Every beginning is difficult, both for us and for Jug. But we are confident after our victory in the German Cup. We are motivated to take part in the Final8 again this year.“

Karsten Seehafer, head coach, Hannover

19.00 OSC Budapest (HUN) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)

Daniel Varga, head coach, OSC
“We are so proud of participating in the Champions League. Our target is to collect as many points as we can. To improve game by game is also important for us, since as a team we are unexperienced yet. I believe in every game we have the chance to beat our opponents and collect the three points. We are looking forward to our first test against Steaua.
Krisztian Manhercz, player, OSC
“Last year we played in the Euro Cup. In this season we reached our first goal: the Champions League group stage. We’ll prepare for Steaua to start with a win in this series.”

19.00 CN Marseille (FRA) v Pro Recco (ITA)

Milos Scepanovic, coach, Marseille
“The European Champions come to us for this opening of the competition. Everyone is motivated. Playing against them in front of our home crowd can only do us good. The team has worked very well for a long time for this European competition. We are confident. Indeed, in the French Championship everything is going well and last year we showed that we could do something which bodes well for this year. We have great respect for them but we also respect all of our work, which is why we are going to do everything to impose our rhythm and try to make a good performance in this match. Some injuries are not ideal but it is an opportunity to perform with the other strengths of the team.”
Igor Kovacevic, captain, Marseille
“We are impatient and very excited to start this European competition. We have done an important preparation programme to start this Champions League with confidence. The objective is clear, sharp and precise, we will give everything to finish once again in Final 8.”
Sandro Sukno, coach, Pro Recco
“We play against a really strong and organised team. Last year they played Final Eight in Belgrade, have some great players, but we are ready: we trained for a few days with Olympiacos in Greece and we want to take the first three points in Europe.”
Aleksandar Ivovic, captain, Pro Recco
“A very tough match awaits us in France, in a ‘hot’ environment; last season we faced them twice in Ostia, winning by a fingernail and suffering until the end. Wednesday it will be a balanced match as well, I’m sure. Marseille may be the surprise of this year’s Champions League.”

20.00 BVK Crvena Zvezda (SRB) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

Petar Kovacevic, coach, Spandau
“We have learned the necessary lessons from our lost cup final last weekend against Waspo 98 Hannover (14-18), analysed the situation intensively and are well prepared for the start of the Champions League season.”

KOVACEVIC Petar Head Coach Spandau LEN Champions League © G.Scala/Deepbluemedia/inside

Nikola Dedovic, player, Spandau
“First of all, I am happy to play again a Champions League game in my hometown. Red Star already showed high quality of water polo in qualifications, and they deserve to be in the top competition this year. They have a strong team with a lot of good players, but we are only looking at ourselves to be the best in Europe at the start of the season.”