Water Polo Champions League Men: Intensifying battles await for quarter-final spots

Credit to: Vuk Ilić

Four quarter-final berths may be booked in the fourth round with the three sides with perfect records so far – reigning champions Recco, Ferencvaros and Barceloneta – leading the charge to secure a coveted spot in the last eight.

With three more rounds to go, the hunt for the quarter-final round berths is intensifying. Especially in Group A, where Sabadell’s stunning win in Belgrade on Day 3 caused a real stir across the continent.

Brescia, semi-finalists in 2021 and 2022, sit third in the group and the Italians face Sabadell on Wednesday in a real do-or-die clash.

Serbian giants Novi Beograd, Champions League runners-up in each of the past two seasons, will be aiming to get the bitter Day 3 loss out of their system when they face Bucharest away in a must-win game.

In Group B, which consists of three former champions, Recco is in pole position to make the cut and they shouldn’t have any problems adding three more points in Tbilisi on Wednesday.

At the same time, the battle of Jug and Olympiacos might decide the second qualifying spot. The Croats almost caused an upset in Piraeus on the opening day when the Greeks had to come back from five goals down to win the game in the shootout. On paper, Olympiacos are the favourites, but earning points in Dubrovnik has never been an easy challenge for anyone.

Group C’s Ferencvaros can be the first team to qualify for the final eight (as per the games’ schedule as they play before Barceloneta and Recco), with all the Hungarians needing is a win away to Herceg Novi on Tuesday evening. If FTC comes away with three points from the Adriatic coast, a victory in Belgrade for Jadran Split against Crvena Zvezda would also send the Croatians through.

After beating Marseille and Vouliagmeni in back-to-back matches at home, Spandau are now in a great position in Group D to reach the top eight, which would be a huge surprise. The Germans might be playing in Berlin once more, but this time they have a formidable task – to beat last season’s bronze medallists, Barceloneta.

Another victory here would be the biggest upset yet, especially in view of the Spaniards’ 16-6 win against them on Day 1. Spandau may have done enough in the previous two rounds to consider another win at least a realistic outcome, but Barceloneta will arrive determined to bag three more points and secure their ticket to the next round.

Vouliagmeni, semi-finalists last season, suffered dramatic narrow losses in their first three matches (13-15, 11-12, 13-14), so the chance to progress may have already passed. However, a third-place finish is still within their grasp, especially if they can get the better of Marseille on Tuesday.

Champions League, Group Stage, Round 4

Group A (Wednesday)

17.30 Steaua Bucharest (ROU) v VK Novi Beograd (SRB)

20.00 AN Brescia (ITA) v Astralpool CN Sabadell (ESP)

Standings: 1. Sabadell 7, 2. NBG 6, 3. Brescia 5, 3. Steaua 0

Group B (Wednesday)

16.00 Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Pro Recco (ITA)

19.00 Jug Adriatic Osiguranje (CRO) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)

Standings: 1. Recco 9, 2. Olympiacos 5, 3. Jug 4, 4. Dinamo 0

Group C (Tuesday)

19.00 Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) v FTC-Telekom (HUN)

20.00 Crvena Zvezda (SRB) v Jadran Split (CRO)

Standings: 1. FTC 9, 2. Split 6, 3. Herceg Novi 2, 4. Zvezda 1

Group D (Tuesday)

15.00 Vouliagmeni (GRE) v CN Marseille (FRA)

19.30 Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP)

Standings: 1. Barceloneta 9, 2. Spandau 6, 3. Marseille 3, 4. Vouliagmeni 0