All set for the Final Four of the Waterpolo Champions League in Malta

Everything is set to witness another memorable coronation of the Champions League season as the Final Four tournament which will be held in Malta, features the four best teams in Europe. The teams are the title-holder Pro Recco, ready to break more records, two former champion sides, Olympiacos and Ferencvaros, and the runner-up in the last two seasons Novi Beograd. As Recco’s legendary coach Sandro Sukno put it: here the level will be higher than it was in the semis at the World Championship.

Champions League Final Four, Semi-finals – Wednesday
19.00 Pro Recco (ITA) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
21.00 FTC-Telekom (HUN) v Novi Beograd (SRB)

For the first time ever, the Champions League finals are heading to Malta which has rich traditions in water polo but the beautiful pearl of the Mediterranean needed to wait till this week to see the crème de la crème of the sport.

As the CEO of the local federation and the organisers Karl Izzo said, “This is a significant milestone in the history of our aquatics sports”, while Hon. Clifton Grima, Minister for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation talked about their three-year commitment to stage the season-ending showcase in Malta. “Through this prestigious tournament, we can create a lasting legacy. We are investing to our infrastructure which enables us to host really high level international sport events. But more importantly, we want the young generations to be attracted by this beautiful sport.”

European Aquatics Vice President Kyriakos Giannopoulos ensured the hosts that the best clubs arrived here, “very strong teams which have the best players in the world. This event is going to be really exciting as the quality of these teams are simply amazing, this is one of the strongest fields we’ve ever seen.”

Definitely, the four semi-finalists were proving their outstanding strength right from the beginning of the season. All four retained their national titles respectively – and it is as amazing as it may sound, but none of the four lost a single game in their respective domestic championships. Recco was beaten in a penatly shootout by Brescia in the Italian Cup final, Olympiacos was forced to have a shootout in the first game of the Greek league final by Vouliagmeni (won it though) as the only minor spots on their clean sheets. At the same time, Novi Beograd and Ferencvaros posted perfect records in Serbia and Hungary respectively, winning each and every home matches across all competitions.

The only and rare losses came in the Champions League. Ferencvaros had one, against Olympiacos, Novi Beograd had three, one to Sabadell, two against Recco, one by penalties, Olympiacos was also beaten by Recco twice and once by Ferencvaros – while Recco is yet to lose a match in regular time in the entire season.

The Italian giant is one step away from adding another chapter to the history books by becoming the first team to win the Champions League four times in a row. They won the last three, boosting their total to 11, by far the most on the all-time ranks. 

However, they face Olympiacos in the semis and that’s a challenge. The last team which was able to bring down Recco in the CL finals was indeed the Greek champion, which beat the Italians in back-to-back F8s, in the 2018 final and in the 2019 semi-final. Ever since, Recco went 9/9 in the last three editions. The two already met in the prelims and Recco prevailed in both matches but only by a single goal.

The other semi also promises a true thriller between Ferencvaros and Novi Beorad. A Hungarian v Serbian clash is always exciting but here, besides the top players from both nations, there is an army of foreign aces at both sides. Dusan Mandic arrived to Ferencvaros from Novi Beograd last summer, both teams have Greek greats, Stylianos Argyropoulos in Fradi, Angelos Vlachopoulos and Dimitros Skoumpakis in NBG, plus Italy’s all rounder Edoardo di Somma in FTC and Spain’s top player Alvaro Granados in NBG.

Add that two legends may have their respective Last Dances, the captains of the two sides, Denes Varga and Filip Filipovic and this adds a really special flavour to this encounter.

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