Champions League, Main Round, Day 13 – Preview

Judgement day

The last two berths might be booked in the penultimate round – though it’s also a possibility that the decision will be left to the last day. The losers of the big matches staged on Day 12 are set to bow out: Olympiacos and OSC have very slim hopes to make the Final Eight, rather miracles
would only help them to stay alive.

Olympiacos needs a miracle to catch the flight to Belgrade: first, they must beat the host of the F8 Novi Beograd on Wednesday and hope that either Barceloneta or Ferencvaros crashes unexpectedly. Since
these two sides caught the wave in the spring, this seems less likely.

Barceloneta is in a three-game winning streak and indeed the Spaniards still has a chance to finish first – they need to beat Brescia in this round with at least two goals, add three more points in Split on Day 14 and hope to see Ferencvaros also bringing down the Italians on the final day. At the same time, the Italians need only one point to secure their top spot.

After claiming brilliant wins in Belgrade and in Piraeus in ten days, Ferencvaros is three points away from making the F8 again. The Hungarians faces off Radnicki at home – a less challenging task at first sight, though many still remember on Day 2 when the 2019 champions blew a 4-goal lead in Kragujevac. A strong finish should lift the Magyars’ campaign and they may even avoid finishing fourth and facing Recco in the quarters. This is something Novi Beograd may not wish to try either –
and the Serbs can also catch up Brescia in an optimal scenario which is also bad news for Olympiacos, which has just won the Greek Cup but might leave the European stage empty-handed this season.

In Group B the scene is a bit clearer. Recco and Marseille are in a heated battle for the top spot – though only the title-holders can derail themselves. After surviving the last match in Belgrade against Zvezda,
they now need to beat Steaua and make sure that they will not lose by seven goals to Marseille in the last round at home – both missions are easy to complete.

At the same time, the French has a more demanding encounter in sight, against Jug. They beat the Croats 14-9 on Day 2 in Dubrovnik and since they won ten more matches in a row, it’s hard to see Jug turning the cards. Both teams can play without pressure as it’s almost sure that they would keep their current ranks. The hunt for the last available spot is winding down after Hannover beat OSC soundly in Budapest.

Still, the Germans have two tough games remaining: the first against their home arch-rival Spandau where the Berliners will definitely not offer anything for free for their fellows. Indeed, Hannover is yet to beat Spandau this season – and if they fail to do it again, they have to take on Jug in the last round to secure their F8 spot again.

OSC seems to have a pair of more handy tasks, a game at home with Crvena Zvezda, then a visit to Bucharest, so they play with the two bottom ranked sides – but trail by four points to Hannover so a game-over scene would be anything but surprising.

Champions League, Day 13 – Fixtures

(all times are local)

Group A (Wednesday)

16.45 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Novi Beograd (SRB)

19.00 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Jadran Split (CRO)

19.00 FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)

20.15 Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v AN Brescia (ITA)

Standings: 1. Brescia 29, 2. Novi Beograd 23, 3. Barceloneta 23, 4. Ferencvaros 22, 4. Olympiacos 19, 6. Radnicki 13, 7. Jadran 9, 8. Dinamo 0

Group B (Tuesday)

18.15 Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

19.00 Genesys OSC Budapest (HUN) v Crvena Zvezda (SRB)

19.30 CN Marseille (FRA) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)

20.00 Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v Pro Recco (ITA)

Standings: 1. Recco 33, 2. Marseille 33, 3. Jug 27, 4. Hannover 17, 5. OSC 13, 6. Spandau 10, 7. Steaua 4, 8. Zvezda 4