Group A, Day 4 – Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) 18-9
Perhaps one piece of the stats tells it all: Barceloneta took 32 shots and 29 of those were on target, so they were extremely sharp – but that also shows how poorly the Serbs were defending, they could make a single block during the game. As for the shots on target, the total stood 29-19 – and not even the most outstanding goaltending may reduce and counterweight such difference. And this time not even the goalies of Radnicki could come up with something extraordinary which inevitably led to one of the heaviest defeats of the Serbs in the Champions League.
While they looked fine for a while in Recco last week, this time they were sunk right in the first half. Well, they barely even surfaced as Felipe Perrone set the tone with two action goals in a span of 18 seconds and two more followed still in the first period for a 4-0 lead. And it turned bad to worse early in the second for the Serbs when Unai Biel and Marc Larumbe needed 45 more seconds to make it 6-0. Radnicki briefly appeared on the scene to score its first after 10:41 minutes, but two more from Perrone gave Barceloneta a commanding 8-1 lead at halftime (marking the difference: Radnicki missed a 6 on 4 in the last seconds, the ball not even made the goal).
The Spaniards’ defence lost its super-tightness gradually, let three goals for the Serbs in the third, however, in front the hosts kept on producing – after netting four per period in the first half, they added five more in the third and another five in the fourth as Radnicki could barely show any strength in defence. At least they could be on level in the fourth (5-5), though that was partly because goalie Unai Aguirre could start his Christmas break after three periods – he fully deserved it as he posted an incredible 69.3% saving percentage (9 saves on 13 shots), while incoming Jon Porter was 1 on 6 in the fourth.
Still, Barceloneta was flying high and could start 2023 from the leading position after 4/4 wins. Well, they cannot lay back that much as on 10 January they visit Olympiacos in Piraeus for a showdown between the two sides with a clean sheet so far.
How they saw it
Elvis Fatovic, coach, Barceloneta
“It was more than I expected, I can say this was our best game in the Champions League so far. As always, the defence was key, especially in the first two quarters and I can tell you that it’s not that easy to do against them as they have an extraordinary centre-forward and good shooters. We had good mobility in the field, we had great offence and as I said last time, if we reach a level like this, it’s hard to play against us.”
Unai Aguirre, player, Barceloneta
“Defence has been the key in this game. We did a perfect job, especially in the first half.”
Uros Stevanovic, coach, Radnicki
“We also faced a tsunami in Recco… And I’m not disappointed, rather ashamed how we played here. Barceloneta respected us more than we respected them and ourselves. I cannot imagine how my team can think that way. I cannot do much just to congratulate Barceloneta and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
Josip Vrlic, player, Radnicki
“It was a very difficult match. We are not happy with our game, neither the result, of course. We have to improve our water polo if we want to play in the Final Eight.”