It will be difficult to find in elite team sports a team that is more successful than the women’s CN Sabadell in the last decade, the best team in European water polo: this weekend’s in Athens will be the ninth the last four of the Champions that the Vallesans have played in the last 11 editions, in search of what could be their sixth continental crown. The Plebiscite Padova is their rival in the semifinals (today, 6:00 p.m.).
“We face this possible sixth Champions League with great enthusiasm and with the ambition to return home with it”, comments the veteran Mati Ortiz, one of the four survivors –along with the captain Maica García, the goalkeeper Laura Esther and the left-handed Judith Forca– of that team that won the first crown in 2011, in the final of Can Llong against Orizzonte Catania.
“We face the possible sixth Champions League with great enthusiasm and with the ambition to return home with it”, says Mati Ortiz
A continental scepter last lifted in 2019 against Olympiacos at homeand that it has resisted the last two seasons: in 2020 due to the suspension caused by the pandemic (although Sabadell was virtually eliminated in the quarterfinals after losing in the first leg 12-13 with Orizzonte Catania), and in 2021, dismounted by Olympiacos in the quarterfinals, the first the last four that the Vallesanas have been missing since 2012. Therefore, there are pending accounts for the most veterans and a renewed hunger for the new additions.
The 2019 champion CN Sabadell has changed a lot. Pillars such as Anni Espar, Bea Ortiz, Paula Leiton, Kylie Neushul or captain Olga Domènech have left, but they have continued to be a hyper-competitive team, despite losing some domestic title along the way ( like the last Copa de la Reina) and experiencing more defeats than usual (like the one inflicted by Mataró two weeks ago in the League).
Pillars such as Anni Espar, Bea Ortiz, Paula Leiton, Kylie Neushul or captain Olga Domènech came out of that 2019 champion team, but it is still a hyper-competitive team
“The team has changed, but the enthusiasm and ambition also change,” says Mati Ortiz. “We have already experienced some finalthe four of thembut with this team with so many new players, it is the first, so I get the enthusiasm and this desire of those who have not played it and of the new ones”, adds Maica Garcia, one of the emblems.
For this the last fourSabadell has been reinforced with the Canadians Monica Eggens and Gurpreet Sohi, who were already on the team almost three years ago, until the 2020 season was cut short due to covid. “Monica has left the studios to help us supply Keuning, she will do well for us to defend the buoy and with the launch. Grateful that he has accepted the proposal”, commented David Palma, who is pursuing his second crown as technical manager of CN Sabadell.
The Plebiscite Padova, invited by the expulsion of Uralochka, “is a very tough and warrior team, with the typical Italian game, of grabbing, of throwing the rival out of control”, according to Mati Ortiz
The semifinal opponent, Plebiscite Padova, arrives in Athens on the rebound, as a substitute for Uralochka, their quarterfinal rival, who along with Kirishi has been expelled due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Despite being invited and his lower pedigree, the Catalans do not trust. “It is a very tough and warlike team, with the typical Italian game, to grab, to lose control of the rival. We will have to do things as they should and go all out”, Ortiz prescribes, with his sights set on a hypothetical final against Olympiacos, a close rival of Sabadell.