FINA World Championships: Croatia Water Polo Without Final After Losing to Spain

Daniela Rogulj

July 25, 2019 – The Croatia water polo team met Spain for the crucial semi-final of the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea on Thursday. Croatia lost 6:5 in a poor display which saw them utilize only three opportunities out of the 13 when they had an extra man.

Not only would securing the final bring Croatia one step closer to defending the World Championship title from Budapest two years ago, but it would have placed them among the two best teams in the world – and guarantee their place at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

“We all know what is at stake in the game. We know who and what’s standing in front of us, but we know exactly how we got here. Of course, step by step. Our first goals, from winning first place in the group to winning the quarter-final. Now we’re slowly raising roles. I believe, I am convinced, and just like all the players who want to win, that we can do that. That we can overcome Spain because that is the only thing we are thinking about now,” said Ivica Tucak before the game. 

In the first three quarters, Croatia scored only two goals, mostly thanks to their indecision, but also thanks to the outstanding goalkeeper Lopez who defended absolutely everything, reports

Maro Joković scored three goals for Croatia, while Xavi Garcia and Loren Fatovic scored one.

Before this semi-final, Croatia had already played Spain twice this year, both in the semi-finals, in different competitions, from the Europa Cup to the World League. Both times Croatia celebrated. However, as far as the World Championships, Croatian had played against Spain twice before today’s game, and the statistics were always in favor of their opponent, who was better in 1994 in Rome and in 2001 in Fukuoka.

Italy and Hungary play in the second semi-final. Croatia will play for the bronze on Saturday against the loser of that duel. 

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