Three-horse race for last two Final Four spots

Photo: Paun Paunović

The penultimate day in the Champions League Quarter Final Stage offers two thrilling clashes on Friday. In Group B, where the race for the Final Four spots is wide open, the big clash of Barceloneta and Olympiacos might be decisive, just like the game between Ferencvaros and Brescia – but it might happen that only the last day will determine the two qualifing sides. In Group A, Recco and Novi Beograd have already reached safe waters.

Champions League Men’s Water Polo Quarter Final Stage
Fixtures, Day 5
(Local times shown)

Group A (Saturday)
18.00 Pro Recco (ITA) v Jadran Split (CRO)
19.45 VK Novi Beograd (SRB) v CN Marseille (FRA)
Standings: 1. Recco 11, 2. Novi Beograd 10, 3. Marseille 3, 4. Jadran 0

Group B (Friday)
18.30 Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
20.00 FTC-Telekom (HUN) v AN Brescia (ITA)
Standings: 1. Olympiacos 9, 2. FTC 9, 3. Barceloneta 6, 4. Brescia 0

Photo: @cnmarseille

Saturday night will have less fever than Friday evening’s wide-open Group B action, when the two remaining Final Four Spots may be booked – but the final decision might also be delayed till the very last day.

While in Group A, where the teams are playing on Saturday, only the No. 1 rank is at stake, as both Recco and Novi Beograd have already qualified.

There are several scenarios in the three-horse Group B race for this Friday.

One may see both F4 berths taken – if Olympiacos, which is on a winning streak, beat Barceloneta and FTC downs Brescia, then the two victors will advance.

A three-point win for Barceloneta would delay the decision to the last day, even if Ferencvaros beats Brescia.

In this case, even a three-way tie could be possible with all the maths involved, so the gap of the Spaniards’ win might also be crucial, as they lost by three to Olympiacos in Greece.

Photo: @OlympiacosSFP/ www.eurokinissi.gr

The big match in Barcelona could go either way, as both sides are strong enough and have all the quality to make the cut, so most probably the finer details of the contest will decide the outcome.

The Greeks have now won three matches in a row, as they brought down Ferencvaros in the last round of games, which was a real feat considering the Hungarians were unbeaten in the season before their visit to Piraeus.

Barceloneta lost back-to-back CL matches (on day 2 and 3), something that’s rarely happened to them, which put the team in a challeging situation, but the way they demolished Brescia on day 4 shows they’ve regained some ground before the showdown with Olympiacos (and potentially with Ferencvaros in the last round).

Ferencvaros are still in the best position as they have two home matches remaining and the first one is against Brescia, the team with four losses in a row.

Photo: Lorenzo Marini

Still, the Italians have two faces – one which landed them the national Cup against Recco in the final.

And the other one which they showed against Barceloneta in their last home CL match where they were beaten badly, 5-12, a barely seen scene in their pool.

Alredy dropped out from the race for the Final Four, Brescia might look an easy target, but without any pressure, they can also cause some trouble for the Hungarians, who need to recover from the loss in Piraeus, their very first one after a 33-game winning streak.

In Group A, the two favourites, already in safe waters, play at home and form suggests they’re both likely to add another victory to their respective tallies.

Recco face Jadran, which lost all four matches and seem to lack the necesarry tightness in defending (they’ve conceded 57 goals, the most at this stage).

Novi Beograd entertain Marseille – but again, playing without pressure, the French can be a really tough opponent, but the Serbs are seeking the top rank in the group, so they won’t let this match go either.

You can follow all the Champions League Men’s Water Polo Quarter Final Stage action and results live on the dedicated European Aquatics Champions League website.

Photo: Paun Paunović

Pre-game stats – Champions League Quarter Final Stage, Day 5

Group A
Pro Recco (ITA) v VK Jadran Split (CRO)
REC: WWWW
15-8 Marseille (h), 13-10 Jadran (a), 15-14 (pen) NBG (a), 12-10 Marseille (a)
JAD: LLLL
11-15 NBG (a), 10-13 Recco (h), 12-14 Marseille (h), 10-15 NBG (h)
Head-to-head: 3-0
Day 2: 13-10. 2022-23: 14-7, 13-9

VK Novi Beograd (SRB) v CN Marseille (FRA)
NBG: WWLW
15-11 Jadran (h), 14-13 Marseille (a), 14-15 (pen) Recco (h), 15-10 Jadran (a)
MAR: LLWL
8-15 Recco (a), 13-14 NBG (h), 14-12 Jadran (a), 10-12 Recco (h)
Head-to-head: 4-0
Day 2: 14-13. 2022-23: 11-4, 17-13; 2021-22: 16-10 (QF)

Group B

Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
BAR: WLLW
12-8 Brescia (h), Olympiacos 7-10 (a), 8-10 FTC (h), 12-5 Brescia (a)
OLY: LWWW
9-11 FTC (a), 10-7 Barceloneta (h), 13-12 Brescia (a), 10-8 FTC (h)
Head-to-head: 5-4 (2d)
Day 2: 7-10. 2022-23: 9-7, 10-5; 2021-22: 7-3, 4-8; 2020-21: 22-9 (QF); 2019-20: 15-9, 11-11; 2018-19: 10-14, 7-7, 4-6 (SF)

FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) v AN Brescia (ITA)
FTC: WWWL
11-9 Olympiacos (h), 11-9 Brescia (a), 10-8 Barceloneta (a), 8-10 Olympiacos (a)
BRE: LLLL
8-12 Barceloneta (a), 9-11 FTC (h), 12-13 Olympiacos (h), 5-12 Barceloneta (h)
Head-to-head: 6-4 (2d)
Day 2: 11-9. 2022-23: 4-8, 10-6, 9-8 (5-8th); 2021-22: 8-8, 8-6, 14-12 (bronze); 2020-21: 6-9, 7-10, 14-12 (SF); 2018-19: 8-8, 5-10