Spain-Hungary in the semifinals of the Fukuoka World Cups (Thursday, 11:30 a.m.) gives off the most romantic aroma of water polo. On one side of the pool is the history between the two teams, long and fluctuating since the 90s, like that semifinal against Hungary in the atlanta games that fell on the Spanish side or the final of the Perth World Cups, in 1998, also won by Joan Jané’s men. A generation of gold that closed in 2001, in Fukuoka, and gave way to Magyar dominance, triple Olympic gold (00, 04 and 08). Then Serbia took the throne (2016 and 2021) and now Spain and Hungary are running as successors: The Spaniards have seven consecutive semifinals and five medals in the highest competitions; Hungary, on the other hand, got them off the 2020 European title, which they won, and the 2022 European final and Olympic bronze.
Beyond history, on the other side of the pool is the romanticism of spectacular, offensive, dynamic water polo, with good shooters, exciting. That is what Spain and Hungary represent, each in their own way. “Before the World Cups began, the pools were going because this could be the final. Hungary has an attractive game and we play as a team, and we generate many scoring chances. It is said that we are the teams with the most offensive variants on the circuit”, explains David Martín, who for two years wove a friendly relationship, also strategic, with Hungary in which everyone benefits. “It’s good for us to train with them because they have good pitchers and they too because we have a lot of rhythm”account.
A strategic relationship before the hegemonic Hungary
For this reason, for the last two years, before each major championship, the men’s team has traveled to Budapest or Hungary to Barcelona, as before the European Championships in Split, to spend two or three days and be able to train together. “We have a very good relationship, we are two respectful teams, we are not going to hurt each other. And among the coaches we get along well, as was the case with the previous coach”, adds Martín, who wanted to turn the page quickly after the 7-6 draw against France that was so close to leaving the Spanish out. “We came out of the well, we were sunk. It is necessary to highlight the positive that the team offered. It seems that if we don’t reach the finals it’s a failure, and that’s not the case… We show that without being fine, we take the game forward “valued.
Hungary is a country where water polo players come out under the rocks. Popular sport, world water capital (World Aquatics is going to locate its headquarters there and leaves Lausanne), has differential players such as Denes Varga, Marton Vamos or Gergo Zalanki. And also with a charismatic and different coach like Zsolt Varga, who already achieved success at Ferencvaros, was named best European coach for two editions and now wants to revive the old Hungarian laurels.
Varga, a fan of Victor Hugo and art
Varga, who was a player (ten years in Italy) and won gold in the 2000 Games, is passionate about art, as well as painting and devouring the bibliography of Victor Hugo, his favorite writer. “I had a roommate who read Our Lady of Paris, by Victor Hugo. I started with that book. I felt that I couldn’t stay behind, I had to read it too, the competitive spirit was also shown in this case. Victor Hugo is not easy to read, but even so I found it fascinating, and the ending is a cathartic experience: that’s when I understood what art really means and it became the benchmark of my life”, shared the technician in an extensive interview in hajonaplo.ma. And that art is what he wants to bring to his water polo: “We have to function as a partnership where every member of the team can fight for each other. Then we will be prepared to win.”he proclaims.
Varga’s romanticism intersects with the most genuine and innovative team, Spain, a dragon with a thousand faces that is chasing its second world gold medal and the ticket to the Paris Games. “He is the toughest rival we could find. We came to win and if we want to do it we have to beat the team that comes our way. We will arrive well, it will be difficult, but if anyone can beat Hungary it is us. The strongest thing in Hungary are the pitchers, they have two left-handers who are top in the world, you have to change the chip and focus on them”, Álvaro Granados explained to EFE. Fukuoka will witness this Thursday, without a doubt, the best water polo match of the moment. A semifinal, the most romantic, for a final with double prize.