The biggest Croatian derby kicks off the New Year
On Day 6 most of the favourites play at home but the race for the Final Eight positions are too tight so none of the big guns can afford any malfunctioning. Two matches deserve special attention, Barceloneta (ESP) meets Brescia (ITA) in Group A, they are on equal points now behind Recco (ITA). In Group B one of Europe’s most thrilling national derbies takes place in Dubrovnik where Jug has another all-Croatian showdown against Mladost.
The Christmas break might have an affect even on the most well-oiled machines so it will be interesting to see which teams will have problems with restarting the engines.
In Group A the game of Barceloneta and Brescia stands out, both sides had a great start, gained four wins and lost only to Recco that’s why this clash is already extremely important on the road to the Final Eight. The Italians upset the Spaniards twice in the last season so here nothing can be taken granted.
Leader Recco should march on against Eger – the Hungarians has a tough schedule as they lost to fellow side Ferencvaros in Budapest on Day 5, now they face the top favourite of the competition, again in an away game. On the contrary, the other Hungarian in the group, Super Cup winner Ferencvaros will travel to Belgrade where collecting three points against Crvena Zvezda looks like a compulsory routine for them.
Since the orthodox Christmas is just over, Dynamo Moscow (RUS) and Steaua (ROU) were allowed to play two days later on Friday: with only a single win in the first five rounds, this game is a last chance for both to reserve a slim chance to catch an F8 berth.
Group B has already been as hectic as it could be. Previously the four sides playing at home tomorrow were considered the group’s favourites but a couple of upsets, draws kept the field quite balanced behind the leading side, Jug. The Croats face another battle against local arch-rival Mladost, they closed 2018 with a cup final (Jug won 8-7) and open 2019 with a Champions League derby. Jug is set to maintain its clean sheet, while the Zagreb-based side would love to avoid a defeat to keep up with the others since here only the first three spots seem to grant access to the Final Eight.
Host Hannover might have to rely on the guaranteed berth even if they played a series of tight matches. The Germans now visit Szolnok, the Hungarians badly need a win as they could gain only two points in their last four matches.
Surprise team BPM Busto (ITA) returns home to rediscover the winning ways: after three straight victories they could get only one point on their ‘Tour de Croatia’ (lost to Jug, drew in Zagreb). Now they face Spandau (GER) which was on the rise in December, earning a point against Szolnok and beating Jadran on Day 5.
The third Croatian club, from Split, visits Piraeus where Olympiacos (GRE) is ready to go for another home win which is a must for the title-holder in order to stay on board in the group of stormy waters.
Champions League, Day 6
19.15 Atletic Barceloneta (ESP) v AN Brescia (ITA)
20.30 Pro Recco (ITA) v ZF Eger (HUN)
20.30 Crvena Zvezda (SRB) v FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN)
19.15 Dynamo Moscow (RUS) v Steaua Bucharest BA (ROU)
1. Recco 15, 2. Barceloneta 12, 3. 3. Brescia 12, 4. Ferencvaros 9, 5. Eger 6, 6. Dynamo 3, 7. Steaua 3, 8. Zvezda 0
18.00 BPM Sport Management Busto (ITA) v Spandau 04 (GER)
19.00 Szolnoki Dozsa (HUN) v Waspo Hannover (GER)
19.00 Jug Dubrovnik (CRO) v Mladost Zagreb (CRO)
20.00 Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) v Jadran Split (CRO)
1. Jug 15, 2. Busto BPM 10, 3. Olympiacos 8, 4. Mladost 8, 5. Szolnok 5, 6. Spandau 4. 7. Jadran 3, 8. Hannover 2