Olga Kamardina, FINA Correspondent in Russia

The wait is nearly over and the city of Ruza in the Moscow Region is counting down the hours to the start of the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final 2017.

Let’s look ahead of the tournament and see the must-know features of the upcoming clashes, which will reach its conclusion on Sunday 25 June.

Five things to watch at Ruza 2017

1. The experience of champions
Serbia has definitely come to Russia to defend its title. It won it first some 12 years ago, in 2005, as Serbia and Montenegro, and hereinafter celebrated a fantastic nine more wins. The Balkan water polo power possesses a host of well-known attributesbeing reigning World Champion, European Champion and, of course, Olympic Champion. Entering the contest as a defending Super Final winner, Savic and Co shall rightfully claim to become the first nation to win the crown an 11th time. It includes nine reigning Olympic champions, including MVP Filip Filipovic, and shall be a hot contneder. By the way, Serbia hosted Australia in the framework of the preparations towards the event, winning all three games.


Dejan Savic, Team Serbia head coach

2. Croatia is back on the title trail
The Croatian road to the Super Final in Ruza was not that easy. It finished atop Group B of the European qualification tournament bettering Greece due to a higher goal difference. However, there nine Olympic silver medallists in the roster of Croatia and Marco Bijan, the best goalkeeper, among them. On the eve of the Super Final, Croatia travelled to California, where they played four matches against the USA, finishing three out of four. However, there is a big problem for the Olympic silver medallist as Sandro Sukno, one of the main players of the team, broke his finger during a training session, and therefore shall miss the Super Final.

3. The outside bets
Although Italy and the USA have yet to lift the trophy, their proven ability to go deep into the tournament makes them forces to be reckoned with. There are nine Olympic bronze medallists in the Italian roster, and six USA players possess Olympic experience. Both teams shall be highly motivated, uncompromising, and not easy to beat.


Water polo in action

4. Aussie Sharks hungry for success
Australia won the Intercontinental Tournament in Gold Coast, narrowly beating USA 8-6 in the final. The team is well balanced, with four Aussie Sharks with Olympic experience. Australia is high spirited and shall be motivated to land on the podium, as its last World League success came nine years ago. In 2007-2008, Australia collected two bronze medals, and were unlucky not to have claimed a medal in 2010 and 2014.

5. Home boys Russia
With a superb stadium in place and a growing sense of anticipation and excitement in the streets of Ruza town, the Russian Bears are raring to go for their first appearance in a FINA Men’s World League Super Final since 2013, when the event was staged in Chelyabinsk, Russia. In preparation for the competition, the host had a number of training camps, both at home and in Montenegro, training and playing against Montenegro on several occasions.

 


Ivan Nagaev, forward of the team Russia

Flash comments. Gianni Lonzi, FINA TWPC Chairman:

"We have inspected the Aquatic Palace this afternoon, and it seems as if everything is well ready for the start. The venue is very nice, it is a great compliment for the region to have such a fantastic sport facility in place, which will help promoting aquatic sports, and water polo among them. Organising Committee has done a good job, which gives me confidence, that the Super Final will be a success. All teams have safely arrived, and for many of them it will be the last check or a dress rehearsal before the 17th FINA World Championships in Hungary".

FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final 2017
Group A: USA, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Italia
Group B: Australia, Croatia, Japan, Russia

Competition schedule
Day 1 20 June, 2017
Match #1. 15:20 CRO – JPN 
Match #2. 16:40 SRB – KAZ 
Match #4. 18:00 USA – ITA 
Match #3. 20:15 AUS – RUS

Day 2 21 June, 2017
Match #5. 16:00 USA – KAZ 
Match #7. 17:20 SRB – ITA 
Match #8. 18:40 AUS – JPN
Match #6. 20:00 CRO – RUS

Day 3 22 June, 2017
Match #9. 16:00 CRO – AUS 
Match #10. 17:20 SRB – USA
Match #12. 18:40 KAZ – ITA
Match #11. 20:00 JPN – RUS

Day 4 23 June, 2017
Quarter-finals
Match #13. 16:00 2A – 3B 
Match #14. 17:20 3A – 2B 
Match #15. 18:40 1A – 4B
Match #16. 20:00 4A – 1B

Day 5 24 June, 2017
Semi-finals
Match #17. 16:00 L13 – L16
Match #18. 17:20 L14 – L15
Match #19. 18:40 W13 – W16
Match #20. 20:00 W14 – W15

Day 6 25 June, 2017

Finals
Match #21. 12:00 L17 – L18 (7 – 8 places)
Match #22. 13:20 W17 – W18 (5 – 6 places)
Match #23. 14:40 L19 – L20 (3 – 4 places)
Match #24. 16:00 W19 – W20 (1 – 2 places)