Favourites deliver, Vouliagmeni are to join them

Barceloneta and Recco both scored 16 goals in their respective away matches while Olympiacos downed Jadran in a fine battle to offer crucial support to fellow Greek side Vouliagmeni’s F8 campaign. Vouliagmeni claimed a great win in Tbilisi and now they are well set to travel to Belgrade.

Group A: Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) 9-14, Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) 7-16, Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Jadran Split (CRO) 10-7, Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) v Pro Recco (ITA) 8-16

Standings: 1. Barceloneta 33, 2. Recco 30, 3. Olympiacos 28, 4. Vouliagmeni 17, 5. Jadran 14, 6. Radnicki 9, 7. Dinamo 6, 8. Hannover 3

Few questions remained open in this group – only major upsets would stir up the ranks and this day saw none. The first four all claimed convincing wins over their respective rivals and that means that Barceloneta are one win away from securing the top spot and Vouliagmeni may not even need any more points to make the cut for Belgrade.

Vouliagmeni just had to beat Dinamo and they could handle the pressure well in Tbilisi. The Greeks survived minor scares during the adventure and with some heroics from Dimitrios Nikolaidis – who scored five goals, four from the centre – they bagged all three points. That became the gap once more between them and Jadran, which couldn’t make any surprise in Piraeus. Once Olympiacos jumped to a 6-2 lead, the Croats were forced into a chasing game, and they could only halve that gap but never reduced it to a single goal at any stage. Jadran travel to Recco on Day 13 and their predictable loss would seal Vouliagmeni’s berth in the Final Eight, whatever they achieve in the last two rounds.

As for the top-flight, after a sloppy start, Barceloneta staged a 0-6 rush in the third to tick the next box in Hannover, while Recco had a 0-5 blast in the first period, then they needed another 0-6 run to suppress Radnicki’s five-goal surge. The Spaniards are all set to keep their top rank, need one more win and since they have two more home matches, against Vouliagmeni and Dinamo, sky should come down to prevent them from advancing in the first place. Recco and Olympiacos are to have a last clash on Day 14 for the runner-up position.