On Saturday, the water polo tournament of the World Championships will be finished with four games at Hajós Alfréd Swimming Complex on Margaret Island, where Russia will play against Australia for the seventh place, the Olympic bronze medallist Italy meets the European Championships silver medallist Montenegro for the fifth, in the fight for the bronze medal the world champion bronze medallists Greece could take revenge for the group stage defeat from the Olympic and world champion Serbia, while in the final, Hungary could get the record fourth world champion title against the Olympic silver medallists Croatia.
For the seventh place, the Russian national team and Australian team fight against each other. Russia won the second place behind the Croatians at the World Championships group phase, where they were beaten by the United States (14-8) and by Croatia (10-8) but defeated Japan (15-8). In the top eight, the 7th placed Spain was beaten by them (11-10), but Hungary in the quarter-finals was too strong to defeat for Erkin Sagajev’s team (15-4 for the Hungarian national team).
So Russia have a lot to fight for although in the history of World Championships they are the tenth most successful team with five bronze medals.
The third team in the group of Hungarians shall neutralize the 12 time goalie Sergey Lisunov if they want to overcome the eighth placed Russians of the 2016 European Championships.
"Kangaroos" similarly to Russia have collected only two wins at the World Championships. In the group, France was beaten 11-10 and the Brazilians were beaten 8-3 in the eighth finals. Apart from these two successes, however, the Hungarians and Italians were 13-3 and 13-5, 15 to 5 in the quarter-finals against the Serbs and for 5-8 place against the Italians Fatovic’s team lost by 8-4.
Since both polo teams are used to gaining medals, the Olympic bronze medallist Italy and the European Championships silver medallist Montenegrins' battle for the fifth place is going to be insane.
The Italians beat Australia 13-5, then the French 18-9 during the group stage, but they played 9-9 draw against Hungarians, however, as hosting Hungarians beat third placed Australia by ten, while Italy defeated them only by eight, Alessandro Campagna’s boys were at the second position in the eighth finals.
Kazakhstan was relatively easy to defeat with a 12-7 victory for the Italian team, but the Olympic bronze medallist couldn’t handle the Olympic silver medallists Croatia in the quarter-finals, which meant that the three world title holder Italy is definitely locked in the Budapest tournament without a medal.
Montenegro may ensure that Italians would end the World Championships with a bitter taste especially if they can prevent third-best scorer Francesco di Fulvio from shooting.
The group battles went well for the Montenegrin team which defeated Brazil (14-5) and Kazakhstan (13-5), had 8-8 draw with Canada, thus holding 5 points at the top of the quartet.
The European champion second Montenegrin team was strongly surprised by the world champion bronze medallist Greece in the quarter-finals; however, after losing the match 12-7 for the 5-8th place, Russians were beaten 9-8, keeping the hope of knocking the fifth place at the World Championships.
The bronze match shall transform the swimming pool into a jacuzzi. No, it doesn't mean the two teams would relax in the water, but the outcome will have a lot of effervescence. Previously the Serbian team was supposed to have a place in the finals. Therefore the all-type champion Serbia has to overcome world champion bronze medallist Greece.
Serbia has won its group with clear self-confidence, in line with expectations, where they defeated the Spaniards, the Greeks and the Republic of South Africa flawlessly. After the quarter-finals against the Aussies 15-5, the team seemed unstoppable, but in the semi-finals the Croatians were to revenge for the defeat in the Rio Olympics finale, resulting 12-11.
As for the Greeks, in the groups they had defeated Spain 8 to 7, South Africans 18-2 and the only defeat suffered by the Serbs, while the reigning world champion beat the team of Theodoros Vlachos 11-6.
Greece in the eighth finals beat Japan fairly well (14-4), then Montenegro (12-7) fought for the top four, but didn’t have a chance against the hosting team Hungary in the semi-finals resulting 7-5. It is a big question that after the exhausting series of bouts at the World Championships is there any strength in the Greeks to repatriate the Serbs for the defeat in the group.
Men's water polo finals is a highlighted event at the World Championships in Budapest. It’s the first time for Hungary to host this event, giving a special scent to the finals that the Croatian national team will play against them in the sanctuary of water polo, Hajós Alfréd Swimming Complex on Margaret Island, where Tamás Märcz's team aims for obtaining the fourth world champion title.
The Hungarian national team is currently the most influential nation in the history of the tournament with the Italians in a tie contest with three world champion titles. Accordingly, the Hungarian-Italian match, which ended with a 9-9 tie, brought a sparkling clash. However, as the Märcz team defeated the Australians (13-3) and the French (13-7), it eventually became the group leader in the quarter-finals.
Likewise, the Croatian national team was the leader of its group, didn’t even lose a point in group D. Ivica Tucak's team beat Japan to 16-6, 12 to 7 for the United States, and the toughest opponent of the group seemed to be the Russian team and nevertheless Croatia could win 10-8 at that meeting as well.
The quarter-finals and semi-finals brought about huge battles regarding Croatians. Tucak's crew had defeated the Olympic bronze medallist Italy 12 - 9, the team Hungary played a tie with during group matches. In the semi-finals, the Croatian team beat the world champion and European champion, the World Cup winner and the Olympic champion Serbs, who were considered to have the greatest chance to sweep the tournament. After a huge fight, the match was won by the Olympic silver medallist Croatia 12-11, which was unbeaten in the straight-off stage of the tournament and managed to defeat really serious opponents in the tournament finals.
The Hungarians had an easier way to the final: in the quarter-finals Russia was beaten confidently (14-5) by the national team.
Concerning the fact that a hosting team has only been able to stand on the World Championships podium twice in the history of the water polo (in 1973 Yugoslavia could stand on the third step of the podium, while in 1994 Italy won the gold medal), it is not only the most successful player of team Croatia, the 13 goal scorer Sandro Sukno, the Hungarian national team has to fear from. In addition, Croatia is the only one that has been on the podium for the past five years. On top of that, the team's first world champion title was won in 2007 by defeating the Hungarian national team.
It is therefore a difficult task for Tamás Märcz and his team to cope with in the finals and they rely greatly on the supporting home crowd, the daring solutions and two great scorers, the 13 goals possessing Vámos Márton, and Dénes Varga, who had 14 hits.
The Saturday Programme
12:00 - For 7th, Russia-Australia
13:30 - For 5th, Montenegro-Italy
15:00 - Bronze Match, Greece-Serbia
20:30 - Finals, Hungary-Croatia