Six plus two crucial matches
Both groups will see three clashes apiece where each game features two of the top six seeded sides – even if we are still in the early stages of the main round, these results might be crucial on the long run.
Top-ranked and so far unbeaten sides in Group A face another tough tests. Olympiacos has a bit easier task as the Greeks meet Jadran at home – it’s going to be interesting to see the home side’s Croatian aces against the visiting Croats. Brescia travels to Serbia to play F8 host Novi Belgrade. The newly shaped team had some ups and downs, claimed two wins and two losses while Brescia showed the usual consistency and a win here would definitely strengthen the position of last season’s bronze medallists.
Perhaps the most crucial match takes place in Barcelona where Barceloneta collides Ferencvaros. Both reached the semis last season (finished 4th and 2nd respectively), both collected six points so far, but their routes were different. While Barceloneta won two and lost two (two weeks ago they were absolutely inferior in Piraeus), Ferencvaros is still unbeaten as they had had three draws before they beat Novi Beograd in a thriller. The Hungarians are fresh from winning the domestic cup but having two gruelling matches in less than 24 hours might affect their performance on Tuesday. The fourth match offers a fine chance for Radnicki to clinch its first win in the group against Dinamo and climb a bit closer to the favourites.
Title-holder Recco visits Hungary to play two matches: the first one against OSC in the Champions League, the second one with Szolnok for the Super Cup next Monday (and they will have trainings in Budapest between the two). Indeed, OSC lost to Szolnok a bit surprisingly in the domestic cup semis on Friday, it was another slump in a busy season, soon after going down against Marseille at home. Taking on Recco will not be any easier, though OSC can come up with stunning performances on given days.
After losing to Recco at home on the opening day, Marseille stormed to three straight away wins, including stunners in Dubrovnik and in Budapest and those set up the French to become frontrunners in this group. Now they play at home against Hannover – the Germans pulled off a great win in Belgrade on Day 4, so this is still not a clear favourite versus underdog battle.
Despite a surprising home loss to Marseille, Jug managed to keep its household in order on the other days and the team is running for its fourth win. However, a Croatian visit to Belgrade always offers special flavours and excitements and Zvezda needs the points badly to keep up with the others. Just like in Group A, here the game of the two winless sides, Spandau and Steaua is already a kind of ‘staying alive’ challenge for both.
Champions League, Day 5 – Fixtures
Group A (Tuesday)
19.00 Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)
19.15 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Jadran Split (CRO)
19.45 Novi Beograd (SRB) v AN Brescia (ITA)
20.30 Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)
Standings: 1. Olympiacos 10, 2. Brescia 10, 3. Ferencvaros 6, 4. Barceloneta 6, 5. Novi Beograd 6, 6. Jadran 6, 7. Radnicki 1, 8. Dinamo 0
Group B (Wednesday)
19.00 CN Marseille (FRA) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)
19.00 Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Steaua Bucharest (ROU)
19.00 OSC Budapest (HUN) v Pro Recco (ITA)
20.00 Crvena Zvezda (SRB) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)
Standings: 1. Recco 12, 2. Marseille 9, 3. Jug 9, 4. OSC 7, 5. Hannover 5, 6. Zvezda 3, 7. Spandau 1, 8. Steaua 0