Water Polo Champions League Men: Matchday 2 (07.10.23)

Credit to: Lefteris Katsinoulas

Spandau stunned Marseille, also helping to restore some pride for the host teams, as the Germans were the only ones to secure all three points at home in this round. In the other three matches, just as in all four encounters on Friday, the favorites secured crucial away wins. Although both Barceloneta and Jadran Split experienced some tense moments before winning their nail-biters in Vouliagmeni and Herceg Novi, respectively, only Ferencvaros enjoyed an easy victory in Belgrade.

Group C: VK Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) v VK Jadran Split (CRO) 10-11, Crvena Zvezda (SRB) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN) 6-16

Group D: Vouliagmeni NC (GRE) v Zodiac CNA Barceloneta (ESP) 11-12, Spandau 04 Berlin (GER) v CN Marseille (FRA) 13-10

In the Adriatic battle, Jadran Split opened the match splendidly and gained a 2-5 lead, but the other Jadran, host Herceg Novi quickly leveled the score at 5-5. The Croats took back the lead three times in the third. Still, before the last period the Montenegrins went ahead for the first time at 9-8. In the thrilling finish Luka Bukic netted on a man-up to make it 10-10. Even though there were still 4:27 minutes to play, the home side couldn’t go even as they missed the last two 6 on 5s.

On the contrary, Ferencvaros won easily in Belgrade. Crvena Zvezda’s youngsters did well at the early stages, even led 4-3 one minute into the second quarter. But then the Hungarians – and their outstanding foreigners – geared up, scoring four unanswered goals until halftime and adding five more in the third quarter. This 0-8 rush closed down the contest. The shooting stats are enough to highlight the difference: while the total number of shots stood at 29-31, those on target were 14-28.

Group D offered even more excitement. Vouliagmeni was the surprise side in the Final Eight last May. After upsetting Brescia in the quarters and displaying some heroics moments against Recco in the semis, they almost caught Barceloneta for the bronze medal, but lost in the penalty shootout at the end.

Despite losing a couple of key players in the summer, the Greeks stepped up once more and almost did it again. Until halftime, they were dominating against the Spaniards, leading 7-4, but Perrone&Co. stepped up in the third, hitting four in a row to start a new game. The Greeks hit back with a double and still led 10-9 early in the fourth quarter, but Bernat Sanahuja netted two in succession. Nemanja Ubovic’s shot only tied the game at 11-11 two minutes from time. Nikolas Paul Garcia still won it for Barceloneta with a distant blast 46 seconds before the buzzer.

Spandau was considered the underdog in this group, the Germans proved once more that, especially in Berlin, they could be a threat to any team. A 3-0 opening against Marseille set the tone, and the 7-2 halftime lead was already a true power demonstration. The French tried to climb back but they were unable to erase the huge deficit, and this loss may have painful consequences in the long term.