Spain longs for a historic European gold against the host Croatia

Those of David Martín want to settle the historical debt with the first European


The Spanish men's water polo team faces this Tuesday, January 16, 2024, a date that could be historic, as it faces Croatia, the host of these European Water Polo Championships, in the grand final in search of a first continental gold. a historical debt that David Martín's men want to settle.

Many positive facts can be brought to light about this team and this coach, such as that they have won seven medals in the last eight major tournaments or that they are a family with veterans and young people with an insatiable hunger for success. But, the truth is that they have a 'thorn in their side' that needs to be removed.

Spain has never been able to win a gold medal in the European Championships. On this occasion, in Zagreb and against the host Croatia, he has a new opportunity to make history and add a European to the World Cups (3), Olympic Games (1), World Cup (1) and Mediterranean Games (3) that he already has.

There will be no easy rival up front and the Bazeni Mladost pool in Zagreb will be a cauldron that will bring the water to a boil, always in favor of the Croatians. That's as far as logic goes. But Spain, with what it has done in this European Championship, has shown that it can have no rival if everyone swims in the same direction, as a bloc.

This is what happened against Italy in the semifinal match. A rival that nobody wanted. A historic rival that has been playing, in this tournament included, a very physical, tough water polo, difficult to endure and fight. But David Martín's men, with a great Unai Aguirre in goal and an impeccable defense, defeated the Italians (7-4).

A victory that assured, at least, the silver medal. Spain, in the last major water polo tournaments (Olympics, World Cups and Europeans), has won seven medals in eight events. The only time they could not win a medal was at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in which they were fourth.

In this championship, Spain has already played against Croatia. And he lost. It was 12-14 to open the group stage. A duel that was decided in the penalty shootout in favor of the Croatians (3-5) after the 9-9 at the end of regulation time at the Bazen u Gruzu pool in Dubrovnik, with a final ruling by Álvaro Granados who will seek to get even it.

Since then, David Martín's players beat Montenegro (12-14) and France (9-6) in that same preliminary phase, beat Romania (24-7) in a peaceful quarterfinal and defeated Italy in a 'semies' already historical in themselves.

But the Unai Aguirre, Alberto Munarriz, Álvaro Granados, Marc Larumbe, Roger Tahull and Blai Mallarach, to name some of the 'totems' under the orders of the great captain Felipe Perrone, lack this gold. They need to win a European Championship to pay off a historic debt, to cross out the continental championship from the list of the only tournament not won. And, to do so, they will have to exact revenge against the host Croatia.