Pro Recco won their third consecutive Champions League trophy! This century record holders won their second consecutive final against Novi Beograd. Tonight’s score of 14:11 speaks physical and psychological preparation that gave Recco a leg up throughout the F8 tournament. The players all agree: “There is no ego in the team”.
Keeping a steady pace throughout the tournament, Recco didn’t allow for this year’s showdown against Novi Beograd to reach penalties. Unlike last season, when the squad of coach Sandro Sukno won their second consecutive Champions League trophy in a tenser fashion.
With a step away from equalising a 52 year-old record, their motivation was running high.
On the other side, the hosting team of Novi Beograd began this F8 with additional experience and their first trophy. Supported by loud home fans, the players lead by Živko Gocić were determined to showcase power in uncertain matches.
Recco opened the final routinely. Creating a 4-1 series offered satisfaction to about two dozen of their own fans. Novi Beograd were missing key shots. The breaking point were the four minutes in which Recco was a man down after LEN delegates initiated their fist ever VAR review, confirming a brutality. The Serbian side was unable to utilize this situation. Instead, the VAR-identified brutality served to cement Recco’s confidence and energy.
Novi Beograd made a great opening of the second half, bridging the gap in under a minute. However, di Fulvio scored two major goals, bringing the game back to Recco. Despite strong offensive initiative by the Serbs, they could only approach a two-goal difference.
Recco kept the winning pace towards the final quarter, offering no additional doubts in terms of winners. Reaching their 11th Champions League title, this three-peat in the first in the XXI century, following only Mladost, Zagreb in 1968.
Speaking of individual efforts: Novi Beograd’s Alvaro Granados was named MVP, while Recco’s captain Aleksandar Ivović is now the proud owner of five CL trophies:
“The impressions are phenomenal. This happens to be our third consecutive Champions League, which is is a historic result in itself. This was previously done only by Mladost from Zagreb in the late sixties. Fifty years. Meaning this isn’t something done every day. On the other hand, this result speaks in terms of how strong we are as a team, how we created a good atmosphere amongst ourselves and how much the players can give up their own ego to create these kinds of results.”
How much did pressure affect them considering they were playing towards a historic result?
“I think the pressure was even on both sides. They were playing for their history, and we played for our own. That didn’t burden us too much. We were perhaps a bit more reassured, because we had previously won two consecutive Champions Leagues. We knew what to expect tonight. We opened the match in a great way. Even during the interval of the brutality… That was perhaps our best rendition of the game. Where I think we broke them psychologically. It was expected for them to take the lead, but we won that period and got a 3-4 point advantage. This is where we truly got our psychological advantage.”, said captain Ivović.
Earlier in the day Barceloneta beat Vouliagmeni after a tense penalty shootout (5-4), completing the competition with a bronze.
Away they all went to party up the night, as the water polo awaits the changes of the CL format, with the Final 8 becoming Final 4 starting next season.
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