Top spots at stake in big clashes

The highlighted matches of Day 8 may have an impact on the race for the top spots in both groups. Recco and Barceloneta are ranked 1-2 with equal points – this duel on Wednesday evening may decide the first place in Group A. In the other group, Novi Beograd take on Ferencvaros, only the winner seems to retain the chance to catch up with group-leader Brescia.

While Brescia may look for another home win against Spandau – though the Germans showed some strength while bringing down Jug in Dubrovnik in the last round and the Italians suffered a shocking defeat from Ortigia in the Italian Cup semi-finals –, Novi Beograd and Ferencvaros are set to stage a huge fight. Their matches never lack the offensive sparkle (last season and this January both sides reached double digits in the three games) – on Day 6 FTC took advantage of NBG’s health issues, now the Serbs will be close to full strength, so they seem to be the favourites.

The hunt for the fourth qualifying spot is heating up too. Jug now have some advantage but another home loss against a direct rival – after they were beaten by Spandau – may cost a lot for the Croats. They are not in the best shape, lost twice at home in the Regional League, and OSC already stunned them in Dubrovnik last season. The encounter between Marseille and Sabadell offers a kind of last chance for both teams – the loser will bow out from the F8 race.

Group A pairings are quite similar. Here the big match between Recco and Barceloneta will most probably decide the top rank. Since the Spaniards lost 8/8 to Recco in recent years, including their lop-sided contest in Barceloneta where the title-holders won 11-5 on Day 6, the odds favour Recco to say the least – and they are also fresh from adding another trophy to their cabinet as they clinched the Italian Cup on Sunday.

After Olympiacos dropped valuable points due to their second-half collapse in Radnicki, the Greeks need to step up in the in-house battle against Vouliagmeni – and a win would put them ahead of the loser of the big match in Recco.

Here the grand clash in the competition for the 4th qualifying spot is held in Kragujevac. Radnicki face off Jadran and that will be much more than the traditional Serbian v Croatian derby. Only the winner can stay alive – if there will be one, since the two sides’ first meet in Split ended in a draw. Hannover’s dreams on a fourth F8 participation are fading quickly, another win against Dinamo might only slow down this process…

Day 9, Fixtures

Group B (Tuesday)

19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Genesys OSC Budapest (HUN)

19.45 VK Novi Beograd (SRB) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)

20.00 CN Marseille (FRA) v Astralpool Sabadell (ESP)

20.30 AN Brescia (ITA) v Spandau 04 Berlin (GER)

Standings: 1. Brescia 21, 2. Novi Beograd 19, 3. Ferencvaros 18, 4. Jug 11, 5. Spandau 8, 6. OSC 6, 7. Sabadell 4, 8. Marseille 4

Group A (Wednesday)

19.00 (18.00CET) NC Vouliagmeni (GRE) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)

19.00 Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)

20.30 Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) v Jadran Split (CRO)

21.00 Pro Recco (ITA) v Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP)

Standings: 1. Recco 21, 2. Barceloneta 21, 3. Olympiacos 19, 4. Vouliagmeni 13, 5. Radnicki 9, 6. Jadran 7, 7. Hannover 3, 8. Dinamo 0