After 16 years, Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) clinched its second title in the
Champions League after upsetting 8-time winner Pro Recco (ITA) in its own pool.
Tremendous goalkeeping from Josip Pavic, Ioannis Fountoulis’ outstanding
shooting form and exceptionally effective play in man-ups brought the win for
the Greeks. Barceloneta (ESP) came third after beating Jug (CRO) with ease in
the bronze medal match.
Though Recco was ready to further improve its record of 8 titles in the
Champions League, Olympiacos’s game plan worked perfectly and that ruined the
Italians’ party in front of 2,500 fans in Genoa.
Both teams arrived with one single defeat in the entire season (including
all competitions), without doubt these two sides were the best in Europe this
year – but one of them had to face a second and rather painful defeat this
It turned out to be Recco – the home team never led in the final, the style
of the match favoured the Greeks for most of the time. The most crucial phase
came around the middle break: Filip Filipovic’s ball Pavic’s head from a
penalty which would have given Recco a 4-5 lead just before the middle break.
Instead, Olympiacos opened the second half with a couple of stunning shots from
the distance in 40 seconds for a 6-4 lead which led to the substitution of
veteran goalie Stefano Tempesti. Recco overcame its problems and climbed back
to 6-6, however, the Greeks were very composed in man-ups and after a rare miss
they converted their 6 on 5 in the most important moment, 47 second before the
last break for a 7-6 lead.
In the fourth they marched on, Ioannis Fountoulis was on target twice, he
netted 4 in this match and the Greeks were 9-6 up with 4:11 to go. Recco pulled
one back but couldn’t score any more as Pavic delivered one save after the
other. The Croatian Olympic champion finished the game with an astonishing
68.4% saving percentage. He posted 70+ percentages in the previous two games so
he was rightfully named the MVP of the Final Eight.
This was the Greeks’ second Champions League title after 2002 – in fact,
they are master in defeating the home teams as they beat Honved (HUN) 14 years
ago in Budapest. The 13th final didn’t bring luck to Recco, after 7
wins in classical final matches this was their 6th defeat (their
first title was clinched in a round-robin tournament).
As for the other placements, Barceloneta was much fresher than Jug in the
bronze medal match and upended the Croats with ease (14-8). Szolnok also did a
clean job while beating fellow Hungarian Eger for the 5th place
(10-6) while Brescia (ITA) claimed the 7th place after downing
Spandau (GER) 14-10 in a match which saw a 4min expulsion apiece for brutality.
LEN’s premium club water polo competition will return in the same format
next year – the Final Eight tournament will be staged in Hannover (GER).
Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Pro Recco (ITA) 9-7
Both sides missed a man-up at the beginning then Olympiacos opened the
scoring when Paulo Obradovic blasted the ball from the back over the head of
Stefan Tempesti to convert a 6 on 5. The equaliser came soon, Dusan Mandic, who
struggled with his shots in the previous two games, now managed to net his
first of the weekend from a fine action shot. Olympiacos made its following
man-up too, this time the other Croat, Andro Buslje dunked the ball in from
close range for 2-1, with 42 seconds before the first break.
The Greeks missed a great chance to double their lead when their top scorer
Konstantinos Genidounias couldn’t put away the ball from a 6 on 4 (his shot was
well blocked). Recco made the simple man-up at the other end, Guillermo Molina
tipped the ball in from close, with his left (though he is right-handed).
The Greeks remained composed in man-ups, Alexandros Gounas netted one after
a time-out but Alexandar Ivovic copied Mandic’s goal to make it 3-3, but Olympiacos
buried its 4th man-up in a row, this time Ioannis Fountoulis’
precise shot found the back of the net. On the contrary, Recco missed
back-to-back 6 on 5s, Pavic made a tremendous save in the second but he
couldn’t have a hand on Francesco di Fulvio’s shot which brought the sides back
to even once more at 4-4. Recco could have gone ahead but Filipovic hit Pavic
on his head from a penalty.
The Greeks began the second period in a stunning mood, in 40 seconds
Fountoulis, then Dervisis sent a bouncing shot from the right-back position to
the net, gaining a 6-4 lead and forcing Vlado Vujasinovic to substitute his
veteran goalie Stefano Tempesti. Di Fulvio brought back life to the packed
stands by converting a man-up then Olympiacos missed its 6 on 5, the first one
since ages…, but Pavic did his job in their goal, he stopped Echenique’s one on
one, then Bodegas’ close-range shot from a man-up. Still, the Greek attacks
lacked the dynamism at this stage and soon it was equal again, as Jacopo
Alesiani scored a brilliant counter-attack goal (6-6). Credit goes to the
Greeks that they could stay calm and Genidounias found his better shots in the
best moment, 47 seconds before the last break to give the lead back to his team
Recco missed a crucial extra at the beginning of the fourth, Pavic posted
his 12th save in the game, while Olympiacos was back to normal as
Fountoulis blast did the harm from the following 6 on 5. And the Greek
master-shooter deepened Recco’s trouble as he was on target for the 4th
time in the evening and made it 9-6 with 4:11 to go. Nerves seemed to rake over
at the Italian side as they lost the ball in a 6 on 5 in an unprofessional way
– the next one was in, though Pavic almost stopped Echenique’s shot but the
ball just crossed the line with 2:39 remaining on the clock. The Greeks wished
nothing else just killing the time in attack, in the back Pavic took care of
the rest. He finished the game with 15 saves on 22 shots, keeping his
percentage over 70% for the three days – no one argued that he was named the
Most Valuable Player of the Final Eight.
ΓΙΑ ΟΣΑ ΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ, ΕΙΚΟΝΕΣ, ΦΩΤΟΓΡΑΦΙΕΣ ΚΑΙ ΒΙΝΤΕΟΦΙΛΜ ΚΑΛΥΠΤΟΝΤΑΙ ΑΠΟ ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΙΚΑ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΜΑΤΑ ΠΑΣΗΣ ΦΥΣΕΩΣ ΔΗΛΩΝΩ ΟΤΙ ΤΑ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΜΑΤΑ ΑΥΤΑ ΑΝΗΚΟΥΝ ΑΠΟΚΛΕΙΣΤΙΚΑ ΚΑΙ ΜΟΝΟΝ ΣΤΟΣ ΚΥΡΙΟΥΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΚΑΙ ΟΧΙ ΣΤΟΝ ΜΠΛΟΓΚΑΡΧΗ. ΣΤΟ ΠΑΡΟΝ ΙΣΤΟΛΟΓΙΟ ΓΙΝΕΤΑΙ ΑΠΛΗ ΚΑΙ ΜΟΝΟΝ ΠΡΟΣΩΠΙΚΗ ΧΡΗΣΗ.