Matchup in Hungary highlights Champions League quarters
The prestigious Champions League Final Four tournament is coming closer and closer. With just two games left in the quarter-finals, the European powerhouses are set to show their true faces, forced by fierce opponents. On Wednesday the quarter-finals will start with an absolute top match-up in the city of Hódmezővásárhely as the Hungarian league regular season winning ‘home’ side Szeged takes on Serbian title contender Crvena Zvezda. Both teams had impressive goings in the Champions League so far and were clearly considered Final Four contenders at the start and during this season. The top matchup in south-east Hungary highlights four big games in the quarters.
In Greece reigning national champs Vouliagmeni and Barceloneta square off. Two preliminary round group winners who are expected to be close. The visitors from Spain, already sure of the top spot going into the playoffs in the domestic league, rested their big players last weekend at home all in preparation for Wednesday’s encounter. Although the Spaniards recorded more dominating results, especially in the previous round, they will be up for a tough battle in the beautiful swimming pool of the Vouliagmeni Nautical Club.
One of Barcelona’s high scorers: Felipe Perrone
Elsewhere in Belgrade, Serbia the anticipated hosts of this year’s Final Four tournament will face Russian reigning champions and cup holders Spartak Volgograd. The Russians secured a spot in the quarters after a nice performance in the round of last sixteen second leg 2 at home against Greek competitor Olympiakos Piraeus. After having lost the first meeting 9-8 in Greece Spartak Volgograd stepped up at home winning 13-10. 2011 Euroleague winners Partizan meanwhile used a convincing 9-5 win in leg 1 versus Brescia to allow the Italians to come close but not far enough as a 6-7 loss in Italy saw the Serbs advancing to the final eight.
Partizan’s Dusan Mandic has to carry the load for his team in the quarters. Photo by Vojislav Petrovic
The conclusion of the first meeting in the Champions League quarter-finals will take place in Istanbul, Turkey as Galatasaray takes on Jug Dubrovnik. And with the Croatian squad considered hot title favorites the home side, who has proven to be a solid and legitimate competitor in the group of European ‘Elite’, will be looking to do most of the possible damage at home. The Turkish reigning champs, led by Serbian center Slobodan Nikic, Montenegrin driver Vjekoslav Paskovic and Serbian shooter Srdjan Aksentijevic on offense while counting on the reliability of center-back and USA-international Jesse Smith in front of the own goal, has the daunting task of stopping one of the most successful offences in the league this season. Jug also was the team to cruise through the round of last sixteen as Dutch national champion Schuurman BZC was blown away twice (1-19 and 17-7). For Jug the Champions League title has become a priority more and more after falling twice to Primorje in title games this season. Both the Croatian cup and Adriatic league, last weekend, were lost to the arch rivals. The first big step in the journey to the first Champions League win since the ’05-’06 season is getting a good result from Istanbul which proved difficult enough. Just group D winners Szeged managed to pull off a win in the Turkish metropolis.
Adriatic league top scorer Aleksandar Ivovic will be one of many threats for Galatasaray to deal with
Champions League 2012-2013
Wednesday April 17, 2013
18.45: A-HID Szeged Beton (HUN) vs. Crvena Zvezda (SRB)
19.00: Vouliagmeni NC (GRE) vs. C.N. Atletic-Barceloneta (ESP)
20.00: Partizan Raiffeissen Belgrade (SRB) vs. Spartak Volgograd (RUS)
20.15: Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) vs. Jug CO Dubrovnik (CRO)
Leg 2 to be played May 1st.
N.b.: Times mentioned are local time
Pictured: One of Szeged’s top shooters Márton Szivós