Following an 8-8 draw on the opening day of men’s competition in Debrecen, Croatia and Greece came up with their first victories on the second day of Group B play. Croatia held off a fast-finishing Germany 13-9 and Greece swam over Japan 18-7.
Group B — DEBRECEN
CROATIA 13 GERMANY 9
Croatia-Germany, two teams without victory in Group B. Both of them wanted to interrupt the negative flow and get the first two points in the second round. Just like against Japan, the Germans were not concentrating at the beginning, so the Croatians took the opportunity. Ivan Krapic shot twice in less than two minutes, getting a confident 4-1 lead after the first quarter. Nothing changed in the second period, either. Petar Porobic’s guys were sleepy, while Croatia was still on fire. At halftime, 8-2 seemed a clear victory for Croatia. After the turn, Germany woke up, getting into the water with a totally different way. Nice attacks, brilliant solutions, perfect shots and the team showed its real face. The Germans scored five times in the last eight minutes. On the other side, the opponent couldn’t react for a while. Then Andrija Basic arrived and calmed down the pool, getting back the four-goal difference. Croatia earned a well-deserved 13-9 victory, but with a better start, this must have been a harder game for them.
Basic – three from three. At the right time, at the right place. Needs no introduction why he earned the Player-of-the-Match award. Krapic’s performance was also notable just like Marko Bijac, especially in the first half. Despite the 13 goals, Moritz Schenkel had memorable periods in the German goal, while Lukas Kuppers was the best scorer with three perfect shots.
Quarter scores of 4-1 twice, 8-2 after 16 minutes. Too much advantage, impossible to clear it away against a team like Croatia.
Stats don’t lie
Croatia converted eight from 14 in the extra-player situation, which was notable. On the other hand, three from three extra-player efficiency in the first quarter showed just how powerful and confident Croatia was at the start.
Germany has to learn to have a good start. Full-time concentration is advised for Croatia.
What they said
Jure Marelja (CRO) – Assistant Coach
“We started very well, we dominated the first two quarters. Then we relaxed and the German team punished us. Due to this pause, they came closer but at the end we managed to win the game. We are looking forward to the last match against Japan.”
Petar Porobic (GER) – Head Coach
“As a mentioned before, we are a young team with the lack of experience. Many of them participate in their first international tournament. Thanks to this, we remained in the changing room in the first half. That cost a lot, although I am very satisfied with the last two quarters. My team showed its character; the players started to play and we could come closer at the end. We are at the beginning of a long road, but all in all, I am proud of the guys.”
Andrija Basic (CRO) – Player of the Match
“We played excellent in the first two quarters. We controlled the game in every aspect. After the turn, we had some fault in our game, especially in defence, so that they scored many goals. Here in this world champs, there is no easy opponent and we saw it today, too. At the end we grabbed the points and the victory, and I am very happy to win the Player-of-the-Game title, too. It is the first time in my life, so this match will always be in my mind.”
JAPAN 7 GREECE 18
In the second match of Group B, unbeaten Japan met Greece, who had one point. Due to the draw against Croatia, there is still an open battle for winning the quartet and the Greeks knew they could not afford another stumble. Despite this fact, Japan scored first, but the answer didn’t wait long. Greece’s worldwide well-known superstars, Angelos Vlachopoulos, Ioannis Fountoulis and Konstantinos Genidounias, woke up the team. It continued in the second quarter, too. Theo Vlachos’ army gave up only two goals to Japan, preventing the Asians’ fast breaks and counter-attacks with strong defence. The attacking side also worked perfectly and various players extended the lead. The Olympic silvers medallist managed the second half brilliantly, too and there was no doubt who would grab the two points.
His name is Stylianos Argyropoulos – need sno introduction. The Greek icon scored six from six,. simply amazing! Credit goes to Emmanouil Zerdevas, too, entertaining the crowd with a 67 per cent save performance in goal.
Greece expanded the lead quarter by quarter, killing effectively the Japanese fast play. In the third period, four goals in a row shattered Japan’s hopes and dreams.
Stats don’t lie
As well as Argyropoulos 6 and Zerdevas with their heroics, Fountoulis went three from four in scoring and Vlachopoulos three from five.
Although Japan has good fighters, it was impossible to beat the well-qualified Greece. The Olympic silver medallist represents another level, however, the Japanese team is still a fresh spot on the map of water polo.
What they said
Theodoros Vlachos (GRE) – Head Coach
“I am very happy to get our first victory here in the world champs; this was our main goal today. Japan is a very good, but a very special team, with a unique style of play, but we managed the whole game pretty good. We were confident, tactically disciplined; we swam a lot and we didn’t let them score by contra attacks. We achieved a clear victory and that means a lot for us.”
Stylianos Argyropoulos (GRE) – Player of the Match
“Japan is a talented team; they work perfect together. Fortunately, our defence improved and with great attacks, we managed to win. In my opinion, the team victory is more important, but I really appreciate the personal award, too. Tibor Benedek was an idol for us, for all the water polo players, so it means a lot to me.”
Yoshinori Shiota (JPN) — Head Coach
“We tried to win against Greece, but they are really strong, Olympic silver medallist in Tokyo. We tried to do some new option, but today we didn’t have any luck, either. Anyway, I can’t say any bad word about my team; the guys were fighting during the entire match and this enthusiasm always makes me proud. We have one more game against another strong team, Croatia, but we try to do our best.”
Group Progress Points: Croatia 3, Greece 3, Japan 2, Germany 0.