Dutch, Hungarian and Spanish Women Remain Unblemished at 2020 European Water Polo Championships

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Evgeniia Soboleva and her Russian teammates have outscored the competition 100 - 14. Photo Courtesy: Sherie Key/USAWP

As the results reveal, there is a huge divide between the top and bottom of the women’s bracket at the 34th LEN European Water Polo Championships. This trend continued on Friday, with lopsided results of 17-1, 18-1 and 34-1.

2020_european_champ_logoAction on Day Six saw the host Hungarians beat an undefeated opponent for a second straight day, while Holland, Italy, Russia and Spain enjoyed runaway victories. With a win over Serbia, Slovakia got into the winner’s column for the first time.

After four days of women’s competition, three teams remain unbeaten and have booked top spots in Tuesday’s quarterfinals: Hungary, the Netherlands and Spain. Also advancing: Russia, which has an astounding +86 goal differential; Greece, which has one loss and a match against the Russians to play; Italy, which will finish group play against France; and the French, who have wins against hapless Germany and Israel—a combined 0-8 with a -111 goal differential.

Friday’s marquee match-up was host Hungary looking to extend its winning ways against a Greek squad that had enjoyed success against three teams that prior to Friday had one win in nine attempts and been outscored by more than 100 goals. They were a good match for a Hungarian side that had been tested Wednesday by Russia. Krisztina Garda (four goals) and Grace Parkes (three scores) were difference makers as Hungary pulled ahead in the middle two periods for a 13-10 win. For Greece, Christina Kotsia, Margarita Plevritou and Eleni Xenaki scored twice. With a match Monday against winless Serbia, Head Coach Attila Biró’s squad is assured of being unbeaten entering quarterfinal play.

Hungary’s other rival in Group A is Russia, who obliterated Croatia by the score of 34-1. This is the third Russian win in Budapest that has had a goal differential of at least +25; it’s hard to see the reason behind such inflated scores. Russians top the individual scoring at this European Championship; the result that stands out for Head Coach Alexander Gaidukov is Wednesday’s 9-8 loss to the home team. A match-up Sunday against Greece will be a more realistic appraisal of his team’s fitness for gold at this tournament.

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Hungary’s Attila Biró. Photo Courtesy: Hungarian Water Polo Federation

The Netherlands is another squad that has produced an out-sized goal differential, having beaten its four opponents by a combined 62 scores. Friday’s match against France was another blow-out, as the Dutch won 18-1. Maartje Keuning scored four times, while Debby Willemsz (three saves) was perfect in goal in relief of starter Joanne Koenders.

An 19-4 win over Germany behind four scores from Paula Crespi Barriga, pushed Spain to 4-0. The Spaniards will be tested in their final match in Group B play as they face Holland on Monday. Barring a tie, one of these two will go into quarterfinal action with a loss. For a second straight match, Roser Tarrago had limited minutes. Spain’s best player is likely being rested for the match up with the Dutch, the defending European Champions. With a berth to the Tokyo Games already in their pockets, Head Coach Miguel Oca’s side has less to play for than other top European squads in Budapest, which will book an Olympic berth with a finals win.

Italy had no trouble against an inexperienced Israeli squad, winning 17-1. For the Italians, Enrica Emmolo had four scores; they will be favored in their match against France, which Friday lost to the Dutch but are assured a spot in the quarterfinals.

The only remaining contest for a quarterfinal berth is between Croatia and Slovakia. The Croatians took a beating from Russia but possess a win over Serbia. So now do the Slovakians; on Friday they beat the Serbs 6-2. Monday’s match between Croatia and Slovakia will decide the final quarterfinal berth and should be as competitive as any at a tournament dominated by big winners and downcast losers.

Group A                                          Group B
Hungary (4-0)                                  Netherlands (4-0)
Greece (3-1)                                     Spain (4-0)
Russia (3-1)                                      Italy (2-2)
Croatia (1-3)                                     France (2-2)
Slovakia (1-3)                                    Israel (0-4)
Serbia (0-4)                                       Germany (0-4)

For live streaming and all scoring sheets, visit the 2020 Budapest website here.