Water polo: Even the champions have to lose

Serbia was defeated by Croatia in a true derby (11:12) of the Budapest World Championship SF. The Dolphins made a good opening, but ended up on the losing side. A strange result for the reigning World Champions, that eventually had to happen.

🇷🇸🇷🇸🇷🇸

A post shared by Serbian Water Polo Team (@vaterpolotim) on

Serbia’s National Team are known as the All around champions, uniting World, Europe, World League and Olympic gold medals. Undefeated since 2013. Nobody has done it before. 

The players of coach Dejan Savić have spoiled the Serbian public years ago. From player to coach, Savić continues an incredible, long tradition of Serbian ruling in the sport. A paradox itself, considering a rudimentary infrastructure and increasingly depleting funds.

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Source: VSS

This beautiful paradox and everyone involved in making it work need a short break. With the retirement of captain Gocić and his right hand man Slobodan Nikić, the team has lost valuable experience. A start of the always feared generation swap.

Rašović and Ubović took their place. But no matter how well prepared, a swap disrupts the well rehearsed rhythm, in which every part of the machinery is perfectly coordinated.

Every few years, a trip or a small fall is inevitable. 

Serbia might not be lacking the motivation, but neither are the competitors. With each competition Serbia is giving more reasons for others to at least try to take away their gold. Which is exactly what happened in last night’s match against Croatia.

Errors were made, Croatia pushed back, and despite the peculiar ref criteria, their game was strong. Yellow and red cards aside, Croatia is the first team to move Serbia off the first place in four years. The Dolphins haven’t lost a knockout match ever since September of 2013. 

🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬🐬💪🏼 #teamserbia #finabudapest2017

A post shared by Serbian Water Polo Team (@vaterpolotim) on

This doesn’t mean Serbia is out of the run for a place at the podium. They are facing Greece in fight for the bronze. After ten consecutive golds.

True, a less than spectacular twist, but we need to to remember that competing for the third place at the World Championship is still relevant.

They will fight Greece on Saturday, return home from Budapest and regroup. For what will hopefully be another record-breaking run, in which the Dolphins will be breaking their own records. What else is there?

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