Germany make strong start in defence of World Games canoe polo titles

Spain has upset World Champions Italy late on the opening day of the men’s canoe polo competition at the World Games in Wroclaw to be one of only two unbeaten teams in the competition, while Germany is the only team with a perfect record in the women’s draw.

The Italian men’s team were beaten twice on Friday, by Spain 5-4 and by reigning World Games champions Germany 4-1 to put their chances of a medal in Wroclaw in jeopardy, while Germany won both their games.

Current women’s World Champions, New Zealand, and France posted the only tied match of the day, clearing the way for Germany to sit clear on top of the leaderboard after four wins from as many outings.

The Germans, who are attempting to retain the World Games title they won four years ago, beat Canada, Italy, Netherlands and host nation, Poland.

Canada is the only other team in the women’s draw to have won a match, leaving the race for the final semi-final spot wide open.

In the men’s draw Germany had only two games on Friday, adding a 5-3 victory over France to their earlier win over the World Champions, while Spain took to the water for three matches, beating home team Poland 3-2 and New Zealand 7-4.

Spain and Germany meet early on Saturday, the first of four matches for the Germans on Saturday.

Italian captain, Luca Bellini, said there was obvious pressure on his team as the current World Champions.

“There’s a little bit of pressure, but it could be a good thing because the team is strong,” Bellini said.

“The World Games are almost the same as the World Championships, we have six of the best teams in the world here.

“We had a good game against New Zealand, we didn’t play like we wanted to play against Germany, who are so good right now, so it went bad for us.

“We found out some tiny things in our match against Germany which we hope will help us if we get to play them again.”

Meanwhile host nation Poland thrilled the home crowd with a stirring fightback against Chinese Taipei.

Down 3-1 at half time, Borys Zubczewski with three goals helped the Poles score eight second-half goals to win 9-5. The win moves Poland to fifth place overall, behind Italy on goal difference only and ahead of New Zealand, and with dates against both teams on Saturday.

“There were so many emotions, I can’t put it into any language,” Zubczewski said.

“We are playing against teams who we have never won against. We have the strongest team in Polish history, so our expectation is fighting to the last minute, which should give us something great.

“We are going to be winners, even if we don’t win.”

The canoe polo competition continues in Wroclaw on Saturday.

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