Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Croatia Water Polo Tops Russia, Secures World League European Final Eight

February 15, 2022 - Croatia has secured its spot in the World League European final eight after topping Russia in Zagreb on Tuesday. 

After Greece, the Croatia water polo team defeated Russia in the second round of the World League Group D. Croatia celebrated in Zagreb on Tuesday 11-9 (1-4, 4-4, 2-1, 4-0) thus securing the World League final European tournament.

However, it wasn't so certain from the start. Russia was ahead 4-0 in the first quarter, and Croatia hit the net for the first time only from their seventh shot! The Barracudas were in disarray until the end of the third quarter. Namely, Russia was up by a considerable 9-5, but fortunately for Croatia, they did not score until the end of the match.

On the other hand, after locking their own goal, Croatian slowly began to gain an advantage. Six and a half minutes before the end of the match, Burić regained hope with a goal for 8-9, while three minutes before the end, Bukić equalized at 9-9.

Burić and Fatović then scored for 11-9 and confirmed Croatia's brilliant turnaround. Loren Fatović was the top scorer with three goals, while Bukić and Burić scored two each, and one each by Vukičević, Žuvela, Benić, and Lazić. Marko Bijač defended brilliantly during the second half and stopped seven of 11 shots from Russia. The Croatia goalkeeper was also named the player of the match.

In the first match in Athens, Croatia defeated Greece 12-11, and with the victory against Russia, secured a place in the final European tournament of the World League, which should be held in Budapest (though this is no longer certain) from April 28 to 30. Croatia will play against the second-placed team from Group C, almost certainly Italy. In the 3rd round next month, Russia and Greece will meet. 

World League, Group D (Round 2):

Croatia - Russia 11-9 (1-4, 4-4, 2-1, 4-0)

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Thursday, 18 November 2021

European Qualifications: Croatia Learns FINA Water Polo World League Rivals

November 18, 2021 - Croatia has learned who they are up against in the FINA Water Polo World League European qualifications next year, beginning in January 2022. 

The Croatia water polo team will play against Greece and Russia in Group D to qualify for the Water Polo World League in 2022, which was decided in a draw of European groups held on Wednesday at the International Water Sports Organization (FINA) headquarters in the Swiss city of Lausanne.

In Group A are Hungary, Montenegro, and Romania; in Group B, Germany, France, and Spain; and Group C Serbia, Italy, and Slovakia.

The Croatia national team will play the first match on January 18 away against the gold medalist at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Greece. The second match will be played at home against Russia, on February 15 next year. After that, Russia and Greece will play in the 3rd round of Group D. 

Two national teams from each group move forward. In the quarterfinals, groups A and B crossover with groups C and D. The winners of the quarterfinal matches advance to the final FINA World League tournament.

Water polo group draw:

GROUP A: Hungary, Montenegro, Romania

GROUP B: Germany, France, Spain

GROUP C: Serbia, Italy, Slovakia

GROUP D: Greece, Croatia, Russia

Coach Tucak announced the list of national team players for the first, short-term preparations (2-3 days), when the Barracudas last gathered for a friendly match against Italy at the beginning of the month, on November 2. Croatia won 12:11.

Croatia and Italy will have the same three-day joint preparations from December 5 to 7, 2021, but this time in Zagreb. Croatia will later travel to Belgrade for preparations with Serbia at the beginning of January 2022. 

Recall, five key players retired from the Croatia national team this year. Already in Tokyo, Xavi Garcia and Paulo Obradović announced they would be retiring from the national team, followed by the legendary captain Andro Bušlje, deputy captain Maro Joković, and center Luka Lončar.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Croatia Water Polo Lose FINA World League Title to Serbia in Belgrade

June 23, 2019 - The Croatia water polo team lost to Serbia by a goal in the dramatic FINA World League final in Belgrade (12:11). 

The 18th edition of the World League has come to an end, and while the final tournament of this competition is officially called the ‘World League Super Final’, the last game, the one for the gold, really was a super final.

Croatia vs. Serbia, two of the world’s water polo giants, met on Sunday in Belgrade to determine not only who would win the World League, but who would secure their spot at the Tokyo Olympics next summer. 

This ‘El Classico’ of water polo was held for the second time this week, after Serbia defeated Croatia by a goal in the group stage of the competition on Wednesday. Thus, Sunday became the rematch of rematches, with more than a medal on the line. 

It’s no coincidence that we’ve seen these two nations often meet - recall, they were finalists in the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, and met in the semifinals of the World Cup in Budapest 2017 and the Euros in Barcelona in 2018.

"What is more beautiful than playing at this pool in Belgrade, one of the water polo temples? Another final, against Serbia. Where do you get more motivation? This is why we live for sport. That's what I'm going to tell my players, and be assured that we will welcome the match in that respect,” coach Ivica Tucak said before the game. 

“Today, my boys and I will give our all, our whole heart, and I hope, I think we have a very, very great chance of winning.”

At 4:45 pm, the game was off. 

The first half of the first quarter saw goals by Buljabašić and Vukičević for 0:2 Croatia, and thanks to a goal by Maro Joković with a second to go, the first quarter ended 1:3 for Croatia. 

Serbia woke up in the second quarter - and Filip Filipović tied the game for Serbia at 4:4 with just over three minutes to go. With a minute to go in the second, Serbia led 6:4. 

Croatia won the sprint in the third quarter. Vukičević scored for the equalizer, and Fatović scored to retake Croatia's lead for 6:7! With a minute to go in the third, the game was tied at 7:7, but Bušlje threw a rocket for 7:8 Croatia with less than 30 seconds to go. The third quarter ended at 7:8. 

The final decisive quarter was met with a downpour, which is no surprise, considering Belgrade's dark sky hinted at it throughout the game. With extremely difficult conditions to play in, Serbia managed to equalize for 8:8 with seven minutes to go. Croatia retook the lead thanks to Vrlić for 8:9 with six minutes to go. The final minutes wouldn't go without excitement, and Serbia managed to equalize at 9:9, but Croatia came back for 9:10! 

With four minutes left, Bijač made an incredible save to keep Croatia in the lead, but Serbia came back for 10:10 with three minutes to go. Filipović scored for Serbia - it was 11:10 with one minute to go. But Vukičević saved the day, and brought Croatia back with a goal. Serbia was granted a shot from 5 meters with 20 seconds to go, and scored to take the lead. In Croatia's final attack, they were unable to equalize. The game ended 12:11 for Serbia.

Serbia has thus won the FINA World League and qualifies for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Saturday, 22 June 2019

World League Super Final: Croatia Water Polo Tops Spain, Awaits Serbia in Final

June 22, 2019 - The Croatia water polo team is one game away from securing a spot in the Tokyo Olympics next summer after defeating Spain in the semi-final of the World League Super Final in Belgrade on Saturday. 

Croatia and Spain met in the second semi-final of the World League Super Final in Belgrade on Saturday after Serbia beat Australia to secure the first spot in Sunday’s finale. Recall, in the group stage of the tournament, Croatia defeated Kazakhstan and Australia, and lost to Serbia. They defeated Japan in the quarterfinal on Friday. 

Spain was no stranger to Croatia and no easy opponent, even though the two teams met back in April in Zagreb for the Europa Cup finals where Croatia celebrated 12:9. 

“For the last few years, Spain has always tortured us. It’s true that we’ve won, but not without difficulty. Still, I believe we have the strength to pass them today, I believe we are better and we will take this victory too,” said coach Ivica Tucak before the game. 

And defeat them,  they did. 

Croatia opened the first quarter with a goal by Vrlić, which was followed by two goals from Garcia and one from Lončar for 4:0 Croatia with a minute and a half to go. Spain finally got their first goal at the minute mark, though Vrlić scored again to make it 5:1 for Croatia at the end of the first quarter. 

Spain’s second goal came halfway through the second quarter, with their third goal scored with less than three minutes to go. Croatia, however, saw goals by Joković, Šetka, and Fatović for 8:3 at the end of the second. 

Spain came back at the start of the third quarter, and two minutes in they were down by just three goals - though it was short-lived after Buljabašić scored for 9:5. It was 10:7 to end the third quarter. 

The final quarter went two and a half minutes before seeing a goal by either side, and it was Spain to score for 10:8. The result remained 10:8 with just two minutes to go, and Joković hit the post without any luck. Bijač defended the goal brilliantly, and it was Croatia to hold their own for a place in the final against Serbia on Sunday! 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page