Champions League, Main Round, Day 7 PRE-GAME QUOTES

Group A (Tuesday) 

19.15 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) 

Theodoros Vlachos, coach, Olympiacos 

“We welcome Radnicki to the first game of the year at home and we want to return to the winning path  in our group in the Champions League. The first game after the Christmas holidays is always dangerous  for all teams. Radnicki comes with confidence and high spirits after winning the Serbian Cup against  Novi Beograd and that is a very serious reason for us, to be very careful and to impose our pace in this  very important game before the start of the second half of our group stage.” 

Giannis Fountoulis, player, Olympiacos 

“A difficult game awaits us on Tuesday against a very good team which proved its quality by winning  the Serbian Cup a few days ago. It is a young team that has a lot of energy in its game, and you can not  underestimate them in any case. But we play in our home and we believe that the final result will be  shaped by our performance. We come from a defeat in Italy and we really want the victory to return to  the positive results and to continue our effort for our initial goal, which is to qualify in Final Eight.” 

Uros Stevanovic, coach, Radnicki 

“Olympiacos is one of the main contenders for the trophy, as shown by both the roster and the previous  games. They are composed of Greek national team players and excellent foreigners. A very difficult  match awaits us, but we will do our best to oppose them in the best possible way.” 

Nebojsa Toholj, player, Radnicki 

“Olympiacos is one of the best teams in Europe, composed of several top foreign players and Greek  national team players. They are well filled in all positions and are practically a team without flaws.  They are one of the favourites to win the Champions League. This is our first game after winning the  Serbian Cup and in the new year and we will do our best against such a great team.” 

19.00 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 

Zurab Rurua, assistant coach, Dinamo: 

“We have a very difficult period, because we lose five key players due to the coronavirus, but this does  not mean that Dinamo Tbilisi will give up and will not go into the game as hard as possible! In short, we  have to clash with one of the favourites, and we have to make our best efforts and give our maximum  and I hope we will show it. It is also very important that many young players will have a chance to show  themselves in this game and it is very interesting for their career development.” 

Zsolt Varga, coach, Ferencvaros 

“It’s a new year but our goals are the same: play well and win! During the winter break most of our  players had joined the Hungarian national team for its training camp which made us very proud as it  proves that we work well as a club. Obviously, these internationals came back a bit tired but recovered  well therefore we were able to win our league game comfortably over the weekend. Now another and different challenge awaits us: Dinamo is an up-and-coming team, but we have to get six  points in our back-to-back games and that would put us in a good position in the group.” 

Lorinc Gabor, player, Ferencvaros 

“There are two missions to accomplish during this trip: get three points and stay clear of Covid! We’ve  had good training sessions both in the club and with the national team during the holidays so we’re in  good shape. Actually, in our first league game of the new year we played better than expected and need  to continue in that way. So far everyone collected all the points against Dinamo, hopefully we can do  the same and paint a more realistic picture in the standings.” 

20.15 Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v Novi Beograd (SRB) 

Elvis Fatovic, coach, Barceloneta 

“Novi Beograd is a great team, composed of the best individual players in the world. They are one of  the favourites in this competition. We are going to give our best and I’m sure we will achieve a good  result in Barcelona.” 

Felipe Perrone, player, Barceloneta 

“Novi Beograd is a team that is going to organise the Final 8 and is made to win the Champions League.  It will surely be a game at the highest level of water polo so the fans will enjoy it a lot. The team is  eager, after this Christmas break, to be at the level we were in the last game against Radnicki, also a  Serbian team. We will have the opportunity to see Dusan Mandic, who is one of the best water polo  players in the world, Vlachopoulos and there will also be some of our former club players such as the  Rasovic brothers Strahinja and Viktor, and goalkeeper Joao Coimbra. We hope that people will come to  cheer us on because it is a very important game for us for qualifying and we are all going to be at our  best for sure.” 

Alex Bustos, player, Barceloneta 

“On Tuesday we are facing a great team Novi Beograd, which has great players in almost every  position. It is going to be a very tough match, but we are working hard for it. At home we must be  strong and get all three points. For sure, it is going to be a very exciting game to watch, and it will be  the last we play in our pool until March 19. We trust in achieving the best result.” 

Djordje Filipovic, assistant coach, Novi Beograd 

“During the last couple of days we had a chance to train with the Hungarian team Szolnok. Those kind  of practices were very important for our team to catch a good rhythm for the rest of the season. I think  that we used this opportunity in the best possible way so we are very well prepared for the next game  against Zodiac CNAB. They have a high quality team, and they are playing very well in this season,  especially at home. They are playing with high intensity, especially in defence and we need to adapt on  that if we want to win in the end.” 

Dusan Mandic, player, Novi Beograd 

“A very difficult game is ahead of us, against a very strong team which has a lot of Spanish national  team players. Both teams have gained 10 points so far in the Champions League, we are sharing 3rd  position in Group A, so the game will be very exciting and interesting for sure. We had a chance to rest a bit, and we are going to Barcelona with a huge desire to play a good game and add  another three points. If we find a good answer for their fast breaks, and stop them from scoring easy  goals, we will have a good chance to win.” 

20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) v Jadran Split (CRO) 

Sandro Bovo, coach, Brescia 

“It’s quite impossible to think about the game. I still don’t know who will play, from our side and also  their side. The Coronavirus situation is changing and we’ll see tomorrow our situation.” 

Vincenzo Dolce, player, Brescia 

“It will be a difficult match because only eight of us trained in the last week. We’ll have to be very  careful about exclusions and fouls, but it’s sure we will give 100% in the game. Our will is to open the  new year the best way possible and the only way to achieve that is to be focused for all four quarters.” 

Mile Smodlaka, coach, Jadran 

“We had a lot of problems with Covid-19 lately. Some of my players are just out of it and not fully  ready, but we will do our best to play a good game against Brescia. The Italian side is amongst the  favourites to qualify, but we will try to pull something out of this game.” 

Mate Anic, goalkeeper, Jadran 

“Out of four goalies I was left alone for the last game in Croatian league against Medvescak. Since we  won the Croatian Cup in the final against Jug we didn’t train together because of Covid-19, so I don’t  know what to expect in the game on Tuesday.” 

Group B (Wednesday) 

21.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Pro Recco (ITA) 

JOKOVIC Maro, FOUNTOULIS Ioannis Olympiakos vs Jug Dubrovnik LEN Final Six Water Polo Champions League 2017 Press Conference Duna Arena, Budapest HUN May 25 – 27, 2017 Day01 25-05-2017 Photo © Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Vjekoslav Kobescak, coach, Jug 

“We are playing against the European champion and this will be a very hard task for us. As well as the  whole season, we do not have all the players available, but I hope that those who will play will do their  best and that we will be a worthy opponent of the favourite of the whole competition.” 

Loren Fatovic, captain, Jug 

“We don’t have much to lose in this match. Pro Recco is the favourite of the whole competition and we  just have to play the best we can at the moment and hopefully that will be enough not to lose the game.” 

Sandro Sukno, coach, Pro Recco 

“In the old Dubrovnik swimming pool, I started playing water polo; with Jug’s cap I made my debut – it  will be exciting to return to my city as a Pro Recco coach, to a beautiful pool and against a very strong  team. The challenge in Syracuse against Ortigia after the Christmas break helped us to be more ready:  despite the absences we will have, we want to close the first round as unbeaten.”

Luka Loncar, player, Pro Recco 

“In Dubrovnik I lived many happy moments, we enjoyed a lot of satisfaction, but now I’m in Recco and  I want to achieve great goals in this cap. On Wednesday a difficult game awaits us, it’s a different Jug  than the one I left in June, younger but still fearful. Surely we will have to pay close attention to Fatovic  and Jokovic who are the two best players: we will have to be good in defence to take the three points:” 

19.00 OSC Budapest (HUN) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) 

Daniel Varga, coach, OSC 

“Our next two games with Spandau will be very important for both teams. We are moving forward step  by step, so we need to concentrate only on the next challenge. Spandau has its own playing style, and  very difficult to play against them. We will be well prepared for the game and very motivated as well.  After the Christmas holidays the athletes’ shape is always a big question, but I trust in my players.” 

Erik Csacsovszky, player, OSC 

“We took a huge step towards the Final 8 in the last round by winning at Jug’s pool, but I think this  upcoming match will be the most important one for us in the Champions League.” 

Petar Kovacevic, coach, Spandau 

“Two games in a row against OSC is an excellent challenge for us in the new year. We had good  trainings over the last two weeks but unfortunately not with the complete team due to the Covid which  ‘attacked’ few of our players. This should be only a sign for the rest of the team to ‘come together’ and  be focused and positive before this match. Playing in Budapest against any Hungarian team is difficult  but also it is always a pleasure.” 

Dimitrii Kholod, player, Spandau 

“Champions League is finally back. We’ve been working hard for the first match in 2022. Despite  missing few players, we are ready for a good fight.” 

Dimitrios Nikolaidis, player, Spandau 

“It’s the first game of the new year, and this one is very important and difficult especially in Budapest  but we will try our best to take the win and start this year in the best way possible.” 

20.00 Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) 

Bogdan Matei, team manager, Steaua 

“After the last match and the level of it we are looking forward for the second win of the season. We  will do our best to achieve it. Waspo Hannover is a very experienced team with a good line up and the  small details will make the difference between winning or losing.” 

Karsten Seehafer, coach, Hannover 

“This is a very important game on the road to Belgrade, not easy, but we have showed in the past that  we are able to win games like this.”

Predrag Jokic, assistant coach, Hannover 

“I expect an interesting game. We face an opponent which has shown that it can be very dangerous in  his pool. But with disciplined play in both directions throughout the game, I think we can get a positive  result.” 

Alexander Radovic, player, Hannover 

“I know it won’t be easy for us, but I also believe in our team, even if we’re not complete. We need  three points from Bucharest if we want to go to the F8.” 

Darko Brguljan, player, Hannover 

“Like for all clubs, the last week was very difficult for us too. We can expect a game where one ball,  one shot, one good defensive move can decide the outcome so all players need to give hundred percent  and then we can hope to get all three points so we stay in the race for Belgrade.” 

19.00 CN Marseille (FRA) v Crvena Zvezda (SRB) 

Milos Scepanovic, coach, Marseille  

“Assessing the this first phase of the competition, we can say that we are the favourites in this game.  We remain, however, calm and focused, we continue to work to perform well and we will not change  this mindset we have had since the start of the season. The Belgrade team remains an experienced team  with good players and nothing will be taken for granted during this match.” 

Michael Bodegas, player, Marseille  

“The goal of this match is to get closer to qualifying for Final 8 by consolidating our position in the  standings. The important thing for us is to continue with the same collective spirit by adding some  improvements in all areas of the game. Our opponent is a high-level team, against them we will have to  be focused from start to finish by imposing our style of play and our pace.”