• Recco are after a more than 50 years-old record: to win the trophy three times in a row. This happened only once in the history of the competition, Mladost Zagreb made the triple in 1968-69-70.
Besides this, there were eight more title-defences:
Partizan Beograd (YUG) – 1966, 1967
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
Pro Recco (ITA) – 2021, 2022
• Recco claimed their 10th title last year to further cement their top rank on the all-time winners’ list. Partizan Beograd (SRB) and Mladost Zagreb (CRO) are tied second with 7 victories apiece.
• In the current field, five of the eight participants have already clinched the trophy in the past – Recco (10 times, see the years below), Jug (4 times), Olympiacos (twice), Barceloneta (once), Ferencvaros (once).
• As for the other three, Novi Beograd reached the final once, last year, Brescia’s best effort are two bronze medal matches (last two editions), while Vouliagmeni appear on the big stage for the first time.
• Six teams also played here last year (Recco, NBG, FTC, Brescia, Barceloneta, Jug), Olympiacos return after having been absent a year ago, and this is the first-ever tour for the other Greek side Vouliagmeni. From last year’s line-up Hannover and Marseille are missing.
• With the exception of 2015 and 2016, Italy have always had two teams in the finals since 2014 (6 out of 8 occasions, including the last five). Recco and Brescia are the constant features, BPM joined them in 2019 as the third one.
• This is the first time Greece have two teams in the F8 (Olympiacos and Vouliagmeni).
• This is the 5th time that two nations have two teams apiece. It happened in 2014 (Italy and Serbia), in 2016 (Hungary, Croatia), 2017 (Hungary, Italy), 2018 (Hungary, Italy).
• Most of the coaches speak (almost) the same language – we have three Serbian bosses (Zivko Gocic at NBG, Igor Milanovic at Olympiacos, Vladimir Vujasinovic at Vouliagmeni), three Croatians (Sandro Sukno at Recco, Elvis Fatovic at Barceloneta, Vjekoslav Kobescak at Jug), and natives lead Brescia (Sandro Bovo) and Ferencvaros (Zsolt Varga, though he speaks Croatian after playing five years in Zagreb).
• All eight coaches have been outstanding players in the past, we have five Olympic champions among them: Milanovic (1984, 1988), Gocic (2016), Sukno (2012), Bovo (1992) and Varga (2000). Kobescak has a silver from 1996, Vujasinovic from 2004.
• Three of them have already achieved the rare feat of winning the Champions League both as a player and a coach:
•• Milanovic – as player in 1989 (w/Mladost), 1990 (w/Mladost), 1995 (w/Catalunya) – as coach in 2011 (w/Partizan), 2015 (w/Recco)
•• Sukno – as player in 2012 – as coach in 2022 (both w/Recco)
•• Kobescak – as player in 1996 (w/Mladost) – as coach in 2016 (w/Jug)
• Three of them may join them as they were champions as players:
•• Vujasinovic in 2003 (w/Recco), 2007 (w/Recco), 2008 (w/Recco), 2011 (w/Partizan)
•• Gocic in 2017 (w/Szolnok)
•• Fatovic in 2001 (w/Jug), 2006 (w/Jug)
• Varga won the Cupwinners Cup with Mladost in 1999 and led Ferencvaros to Champions League triumph in 2019 as a coach.
• Bovo won the Euro Cup (LEN Trophy) as a player with Pescara (1996) and Savona (2005) and won the Euro Cup with Brescia in 2016.
• Apart from Recco’s record-tying attempt, there is a giant individual record which might be bettered: if the Italians retain their title, Pietro Figlioli would write history to become the first player with 7 Champions League trophies. Man of eternity, the Aussie born great, who turned 39 this Monday, is tied first on the all-time list with Partizan’s legend Djordje Perisic and Recco’s current President Maurizio Felugo, both with 6 victories under their belts (Figlioli was not entered for the 2012 Final Four but he played in the prelims).
• Aussie Aaron Younger can continue his outstanding streak and clinch a 4th consecutive title – he was part of the winning teams in 2019 (with Ferencvaros), then in 2021 and 2022 (with Recco), and was also champion in 2017 (with Szolnok, so lifted the trophy in four of the last five editions).
• Younger, together with Recco team-mate Aleksandar Ivovic they might join an elite circle of players with 5 titles: Ozren Bonacic (YUG, with Partizan&Mladost), Mirko Sandic (YUG, with Partizan), Tamas Kasas (HUN, with Posillipo&Recco) and Stefano Tempesti (ITA, with Recco).
• Novi Beograd’s Dusko Pijetlovic can also become a 5-time winner if NBG land the title.
• While Younger won trophies with three different clubs representing two nations, Barceloneta’s Felipe Perrone achieved the rare feat to win the Champions League with three clubs from three different countries: with Recco (ITA) in 2012, with Barceloneta (ESP) in 2014 and with Jug (CRO) in 2016.
• Serbia’s Andrija Prlainovic holds the record for winning the Champions League with four different clubs (from three countries). The Serbian great (currently playing for Marseille) was synonymous with European success between 2011 and 2017 as in five out of seven seasons he lifted the trophy – with Partizan (SRB) in 2011, with Recco (ITA) in 2012, with Crvena Zvezda (SRB) in 2013, with Recco (ITA) in 2015 and with Szolnok (HUN) in 2017.
15.30 Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)
• Best results
•• Barceloneta: Winner (2014), 3rd (2013, 2015, 2018)
•• Jug: 4x winner (1981, 2001, 2006, 2016), LEN Trophy-winner (2000)
•• Barceloneta: 13 wins, 1 loss – 169-100
•• Jug: 4 wins, 4 draws, 6 losses – 156-161
• Recent encounters
2021-22: For 5-8th: 12-9. 2019-20: 13-15. 2017-18, 9-9, 8-6, bronze medal: 14-8. 2016-17: 7-7, 10-11. 2014-15, bronze medal: 14-12
• Barceloneta produced the best result sheet in the prelims, winning 13 games out of 14. They also conceded the least goals, 100.
• On contrary, Jug came up with the weakest run among the eight finalist – indeed, ever since the introduction of the F8, no team managed to clinch an F8 berth with only four wins in 14 rounds. Jug also got the highest number of goals among the finalists.
• Barceloneta played seven QF matches since 2014, won 5 and lost 2, including the last one against eventual winner Recco. Though since winning the title in 2014, they could never pass the semis.
• Jug had a fine run in the quarters in the past, won four in a row, then lost the last three (2019, 2021, 2022).
• Barceloneta’s coach Elvis Fatovic faces an emotionally demanding task – he was born in Dubrovnik and became an icon of Jug, won two Champions League titles (2001 and 2006), five championships and six cups with the club.
17.00 Novi Beograd (SRB) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
• Best results
•• Novi Beograd: Runner-up (2022)
•• Olympiacos: Winner (2002, 2018), Runner-up (2016, 2019)
•• Novi Beograd: 10 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses – 178-136
•• Olympiacos: 10 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses – 175-114
• Recent encounters
2021-22: 9-12, 12-12
• This is the second F8 appearance of Novi Beograd, last year they reached the final where they lost to Recco in a thrilling match, decided by a shootout.
• After playing three finals in four years (between 2016 and 2019), Olympiacos was thrashed in 2021 by Barceloneta in the quarters (9-22) and last year they couldn’t make the cut for the first time since 2015.
• It’s going to be a very special game for Serbian legend Igor Milanovic who had led Novi Beograd to the final a year ago in this pool, now he will be in charge at the other bench.
• Also, the clash will be special for NBG’s Greeks Angelos Vlachopoulos and Dmitrios Skoumpakis to play against their former club.
18.30 AN Brescia (ITA) v NC Vouliagmeni (GRE)
• Best results
•• Brescia: Bronze medallist (2021), 4x Euro Cup winner (2002, 2003, 2006, 2016)
•• Vouliagmeni: Winner of Cupwinners Cup (1997), Euro Cup runner-up (2004)
•• Brescia: 11 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses – 169-124
•• Vouliagmeni: 5 wins, 2 draws, 7 losses – 130-156
• Recent encounters
Never met in CL
• After Brescia had failed to reach the semis upon their first four tries in the F6/8 (lost QFs in 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019), in Belgrade they made the top four in the previous two editions (2021, 2022), though never won in the semis.
• Vouliagmeni’s only quarter-final appearance dates back to 2013, the last year before the new Champions League format was introduced. Ten years ago Barceloneta ousted them by winning both legs of the QF.
20.00 Pro Recco (ITA) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)
• Best results
•• Recco: 10x winner (1965, 1984, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2021, 2022)
•• FTC: Winner (2019), Runner-up (2021), bronze medallist (2022), 4x winner of Cupwinners Cup (1975, 1978, 1980, 1998), 2x Euro Cup winner (2017, 2018)
•• Recco: 12 wins, 2 losses – 192-102
•• FTC: 8 wins, 1 draw, 5 losses – 148-141
• Recent encounters:
2022, semi-final: 10-7. 2021, final: 9-6, 2019-20: 13-13. 2018-19: 9-6, 13-7.
• When in Belgrade, these two sides should meet: they played the 2021 final, the 2022 semi-final and now face off in the quarters. Recco won both matches convincingly (see above)
• After failing to win in the quarters in 2014, Recco played at least in the semi-finals in the last 7 editions.
• Ferencvaros had three F8 appearances so far, in the last three editions, and always made the semis. However, their final rankings are declining: 1st in 2019, 2nd in 2021 and 3rd in 2022.
• Recco’s Aaron Younger and Gergo Zalanki both played for Ferencvaros some years ago.