Olympics: Water Polo
The Wolf previews the water polo for Rio 2016.
Men’s Water Polo
There is no doubting the consistency of the No.1 ranked Serbia, especially when it comes to performing in the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League. They’ve won the last four finals and 10 of the last 12 including 2005 and 2006 when it was Serbia and Montenegro. They’ve also won the last three European Championships. Unfortunately they haven’t been able to transfer their dominant World League and European form to recent Olympic campaigns with bronze medals in Beijing and London. They are short enough but should finally deliver in Rio with 2016 World League MVP Branislav Mitrovic leading the charge.
The defending Olympic gold medallists have struggled to reach the lofty heights of their success in London in 2012. They lost to Serbia in the 2015 World League Final in Italy and could only reach the quarter-final stage in the 2014 and 2016 European Championships. Keep falling at the final hurdle since London and won’t get past Serbia in Rio.
Hungary is the most successful men’s water polo team in Olympics history with 9 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals. They took out the gold medal in three consecutive games (Sydney, Athens and Beijing) before finishing 5th in London. Finished 3rd in the 2016 European Championships in Belgrade and will do it tough in Rio after drawing in Group A alongside Serbia and The Wolf’s dark horse Greece.
Montenegro lost 10-8 to Serbia in the 2016 European Championship Final in Belgrade and are not without a hope in Rio after drawing in Group B, avoiding the powerhouse that is Serbia. Biggest test will be when they face Croatia in the knockout stages.
The Greeks finished 3rd in the FINA Water Polo World League in China earlier this year and were unlucky not the make the final after losing a penalty shootout to the USA. Goalkeeper Konstantinos Flegkas was named goalkeeper of the tournament and will be crucial to the Greeks hopes in Rio. $11 definitely looks overs if they can spring an upset over Serbia in the group stages.
Women’s Water Polo
The defending Olympic gold medallists are the obvious choice in Rio and have dominated the sport in recent years. To go along with their gold medal in London, they’ve won the FINA Water Polo World League in 9 of the past 11 years and are the current FINA World League and World Championship holders. It will be them with daylight coming second.
Australia will be relying on the experience of Bronwen Knox and Gemma Beadsworth if they are to upset the powerhouse that is the USA. The Rio campaign has got off to a shaky start with four members of the squad struck down with a virus in the lead-up to their Group A clash with Russia. The Aussie Stingers have won bronze in the last two Olympic games and should medal once again.
The current European Championship holders are peaking at the right time and look a great chance to improve on their 4th place finishes at both Beijing and London. The Wolf is chips in USA, but Hungary are the value hope in the field.
Spain went down to the USA 8-5 in the gold medal match at London 2012 and finished 2nd in this year’s World League. Have the ability to score goals as highlighted by their 2016 European Championship form and their fate will be decided in their Group B clash against the USA.
Finished with the bronze medal at the 2016 European Championship but didn’t have to play the likes of the USA and Australia. Look outclassed.
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