Final – Pro Recco (ITA) v Novi Beograd (SRB)
• This can be Recco’s 10th Champions League title – an absolute record. Partizan Beograd (SRB) and Mladost Zagreb (CRO) are tied second in the all-time ranks with 7 apiece. Novi Beograd can win its first title in its brief history.
• Italian clubs claimed 14 titles and were 24 times in the final (this will be their 25th appearance). As for the Serbs, they have 9 titles and 15 appearances in the final. The last Serbian club to win the Champions League was Crvena Zvezda in 2013, they also won in Belgrade (in a different location, at the Banjica Pool).
• So far, Champions League (Champions Cup, Euro League) saw a team winning back-to-back titles 8 times:
Partizan Beograd (YUG) – 1966, 1967
Mladost Zagreb (YUG) – 1968, 1969, 1970 (the only triple)
Partizan Beograd (YUG) – 1975, 1976
Spandau 04 (FRG) – 1986, 1987
Mladost Zagreb (CRO) – 1990, 1991
Jadran Split (CRO) – 1992, 1993
Posillipo Napoli (ITA) – 1997, 1998
Pro Recco (ITA) – 2007, 2008
• Since the inauguration of the Final 4/6/8 format in 1997, the host teams won more than half of the finals, 11 out of 21 (three editions, 2008, 2012 and 2021 were held in neutral venues). Interestingly, in the 8 finals held between 2000 and 2007, the host won 7 times.
1997: Posillipo Napoli (ITA) • 2000: Becej (YUG)• 2001: Jug (CRO) • 2003: Recco (ITA) • 2004: Honved (HUN) • 2005: Posillipo (ITA) • 2006: Jug (CRO) • 2007: Recco (ITA) • 2013: Crvena Zvezda (SRB) • 2014: Barceloneta (ESP) • 2017: Szolnok (HUN)
• It happened only three times, that the host team reached the final but failed to win it:
2002: Honved (HUN) lost to Olympiacos (GRE) in Budapest
2011: Recco (ITA) lost to Partizan (SRB) in Rome
2018: Recco (ITA) lost to Olympiacos (GRE) in Genova
In 2011 the winning Serbian side was coached by Igor Milanovic, who now is in charge at Novi Beograd.
• Indeed Igor Milanovic, the Serbs’ legend who is a two-time Olympic (1984, 1988) and two-time world champion (1986, 1991) as a player, won the Champions League 3 times in the pool (with Mladost in 1990 and 1991, with Catalunya in 1995), Then already twice as a coach: he led Partizan to win the trophy in 2011, then Recco in 2015. He can become the first coach in history to lead three different teams to Champions League titles. Besides him, Zoltan Kasas (HUN) coached Becej (YUG) in 2000, then Olympiacos (GRE) in 2002 during their respective title-winning campaigns.
• Sandro Sukno can also become a Champions League winning coach after lifted the trophy as a player. The Croatian was part of Recco’s golden team ten years ago, in 2012.
• From that team, Aleksandar Ivovic is still part of the show, this can be his 4th victory after 2012, 2015 and 2021.
• Aussie Aaron Younger can win the trophy for the 4th time too, since 2017 – he was first with Szolnok (2017), Ferencvaros (2019) and Recco (2021).
• Among today finalists, Dusko Pijetlovic (NBG) and Pietro Figlioli (REC) already bagged four titles apiece. Whoever wins, shall join an elite circle of 5-time winner legends like Ozren Bonacic (YUG, with Partizan&Mladost), Mirko Sandic (YUG, with Partizan), Tamas Kasas (HUN, with Posillipo&Recco) and Stefano Tempesti (ITA, with Recco). There are two greats with 6 titles: Djordje Perisic (YUG, with Partizan) and Maurizio Felugo (ITA, with Posillipo&Recco) – Felugo is now the President of Recco.
• This is going to Recco’s 17th appearance in the final. In the previous 16 they had a 9-7 winning edge. Lifted the trophy in 1965, 1984, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2021 – and lost in 1967, 1970, 1972, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2018.
• On contrary, this is Novi Beograd’s first-ever appearance in the final.
• Of course, the key players of NGB have already tasted Champions League success in other teams – most notably Dusan Mandic who was the MVP here a year ago while leading Recco to win the title. He was also part of the Partizan Miracle with Milanovic in 2011.
• Dusko Pijetlovic played for winning team led by Milanovic both in 2011 (Partizan) and in 2015 (Recco) – can they make it for the third time?
• Pijetlovic was also member the last Serbian winning club till date, in Crvena Zvezda in 2013, together with the Rasovic siblings, Strahinja and Viktor. In fact, Pijetlovic lifted the trophy four times in five years between 2011 and 2015 (Partizan 2011, Recco 2012, Zvezda 2013, Recco 2015), this could be his 5th victory.
• Nikola Jaksic achieved the unique feat of playing the last three Champions League finals: he won in 2019 and was runner-up in 2021 with Ferencvaros, and now is getting ready with Novi Beograd.
• Mandic, Pijetlovic and Jaksic were there in Tokyo in the Olympic champion Serbian team – together with NBG team-mates Gojko Pijetlovic and Strahinja Rasovic.
• On contrary, after years of strong Serbian presence, there is no freshly crowned Olympic champion in the title-holder’s roster. The only Olympic gold medallist is the coach Sandro Sukno (won with Croatia in 2012).
• Still, Recco has plenty of experience – from the 2021 winners, nine players are here to retain their title.
• Interestingly, Milanovic’s Partizan in 2011 also featured a Greek player, Theodoros Chadzitheodoru, like they have Angelos Vlachopoulos for this season – he made the difference in the final period in the semis against Brescia.
Bronze medal match – Brescia v FTC
• After four unsuccessful attempts to win the quarter-final matches in 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2019, Brescia is now playing its second bronze game match after 2021. Last year they beat Barceloneta 13-7 to claim their best-ever result in the Champions League.
• This is the first bronze medal match for Ferencvaros after they reached the final at their first two appearances (won in 2019, finished runner-up in 2021).
• The two sides met in the prelims: on Day 1 the game finished in an 8-8 draw, then Ferencvaros won 8- 6 in Budapest in the last round, three weeks ago.
• Last year they also clashed here in Belgrade, Ferencvaros won the thrilling semi-final 14-12. In the prelims, at the ‘bubble tournaments’ in Budapest, Brescia beat them in both matches, 9-6 and 10-7.
• In the 2018-19 season they were in the same group too, they played an 8-8 tie in Budapest, then Brescia won 10-5 in Italy.