Water Polo Men Rio 2016 Round 3 Predictions + Results Round 2

Round 3 Predictions:

Australia v Japan (Australia +4)

Greece v Hungary (Draw or Hungary +1)

France v USA (USA +2)

Montenegro v Italy (Montenegro +2)

Brazil v Serbia (Serbia +4)

Spain v Croatia (Croatia +1)


Round 2 Results

Prediction – Serbia v Greece (Serbia win +2)

Result Serbia 9 – Greece 9

This is the second slow start to Serbia in as many games and their second draw. What was most impressive with the Serbians was their resilience and the confidence you could see from all of the players where they continually backed themselves, took the shots and new they would eventually score. The Serbs were down all game with a big turn-around in the final quarter to go ahead for the first time with 2:23 on the clock and never stopped belting the ball against the seemingly emotionless Greek goalkeeper Konstantinos Flegkas.

Serbia relies heavily on its strong outside shooting combined with the never-ending work of Duško Pijetlović in centre and his strength on the inside post for extra-man. His centre-forward partner is equally as dangerous (and big) in all situations and scored their final goal to take them ahead. The Serbs draw out the defence through beautiful passing, baulking and fluid movements and Pijetlović is always on the ready on the post if the defence creeps out just a little too far.

The Greeks played extremely well. Fountoulis had a brilliant game scoring 4 crucial goals including the evener and his team mates never stopped driving in attack to create opportunities against their heavier opponents and wore the Serbs down in the process. They also were very active in defence, taking away time and space from the Serbs who love to play against a zone and are lethal when given half a second and half a lane to shoot.

The Greeks probably deserved the win for their non-stop intensity however the Serbs were ‘unlucky’ not to have been awarded extra-man in their final two attacks with Pijetlović clearly earning the ejections which were called earlier in the game. The referees have been very technical and it’s clear they’ve been instructed to encourage more exclusions and less heavy wrestling but referees have a tendency to fear making big decisions in the final minutes of crucial games.

Prediction – Hungary v Australia (Australia +1 > I may be bias!)

Result HUN 9 – AUS 9

What a game! The Aussies came out to play with Richie Campbell asserting his authority early on and then both teams traded goals in a physical and well documented affair. The upset against Brazil didn’t sway the Aussie Sharks from the huge task ahead of them and as always they revel in taking it to the big opponents. A never-give up attitude, ruthless and active defence and converting opportunities in attack all combined for a brilliant performance.

Richie Campbell’s four goals all at pivotal moments inspired the team but it was certainly a team effort. Extremely pleasing to see youngster George Ford score a crucial at the end of the first half along with a beautiful goal from Joe Kayes thanks to a pinpoint pass across the 2m line by captain Rhys Howden. Down with one final attack Johnno Cotterill stepped up and snuck a brilliant shot past the Hungos to seal the draw. What happened after that? Just a little bit of friendly acknowledgement between the teams ;).

As predicted in yesterday’s preview: ‘The Hungarians will take confidence from the draw v Serbia however they are a young team without the maturity and consistency that the Olympics requires. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Aussies take an early lead and the Hungarians lose their composure to hand victory to the Sharks.’ The Hungarians played well, no doubt but the experts would have predicted a more comfortable game. Stanton-French made them work for every goal and given their two draws, the Hungos still need to work to progress to the finals.

Predicted – Italy v France (Italy +3)

Result – ITA 11 v FRA 8

Matteo Aicardi missed the majority of the Italian’s first game v Spain thanks to a broken nose early in the 1st quarter. With a custom made protective Phantom of the Opera style mask and the toughness of a water polo player, he played a brilliant game and scored 4 for the Italians to secure a comfortable victory.

The Italians pulled away in the 2nd and never looked truly threatened by the French. Although the French provided some enjoyable highlights, it was always going to be a monumental task to keep up with the Italians.

Predicted USA v Spain (Spain +1)

Result – USA 9 v ESP 10

The US put up a brilliant fight for 3 quarters but the Spanish endurance and experience was the winner, pulling away in the final quarter for a more comfortable victory than the scoreboard showed. This US team has a huge future ahead, and while certainly not ruling them out of this tournament just yet, the youngest side in Rio will go a long way under the tutelage of Ex-Serbian coach Dejan Udovicic.

The Spanish were unlucky not to take out the victory against the Italians previously and their tactics and the ability to put away the opportunities at crucial times in the game was the difference. The US certainly create opportunities but it’s that final 1% which they just missed on the conversions.

Spanish coach Gabi Hernandez has assembled a mixed team of youth and experience and is no stranger to controversy selecting players against the judgement of others in the Spanish water polo fraternity including the non-selection of triple Olympian (and now four-time) who now wears the Croatian cap instead. Their discipline and fitness however is second to non and as long as they can pull out a big performance against Croatia or Montenegro (no easy feat) his coaching style will be applauded.

Croatia v Montenegro (Montenegro +1)

Result – CRO 8 v MNE 7

The game certainly delivered a blistering performance by both teams as predicted. Strong, tough, big, giants are the words to describe these players and this game. The beauty of this game was the amount of centre-forward, counter attack and long shots scored compared to an over-reliance on extra-man. Croatia ended up the victors and this will be very exciting to see if they meet again come finals time.

Predicted – Brazil v Japan (Brazil +2)

Result BRA 16 – JPN 8

Brazil turned it on and masterfully cut apart the Japanese style of intense press. Vrlic punished the Japanese for their pressing style with space in centre-forward while Felipe Perrone played a superb game showing off his skills to finish with 4 goals. The Brazilians started hard and continued with their intensity all game finishing off with a somewhat easy victory. The Japanese style of game works well against an ill prepared and also against an unlucky team but not against one drilled well and under the tutelage of a master such as Rudic.

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