SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 22: Felipe Rocha Perrone of Spain stretches for the ball with Gergely Kiss of Hungary in the Men's Water Polo first preliminary round match between Hungary and Spain during Day Seven of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center on July 22, 2011 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
The first water polo game for the 2012 London Olympics begins on July 29 as the men's side gets things started, and then the women start the following day. There are a few players in the world that can dominate the game, and one of those is United States star Tony Azevedo.
Sports Illustrated's Micahel Farber breaks down another pair of men's players who are game changers:
Gergely Kiss, Hungary: Kiss, the Hungarian captain widely considered the best left-handed player in the world, is a three-time member of the Olympics all-name team. (Unofficially, of course. More formally, he has been a star on the last three Olympic champions.) The 6-foot-4 Kiss also once played for the Soviet Union -- at least in the movie Children of Glory, about the infamous 1956 Hungary-USSR match. In the film, Kiss had to deliver on-camera lines in Russian.
Sandro Sukno, Croatia: The 22-year-old Croatian is the next great European star, if he is not considered that already. He dropped a fourth-period hat trick on the U.S. last month, propelling Croatia to the World League Super Final gold-medal match, which it won. Sukno led all scorers at the 2012 European championships with 24 goals. He is the son of Goran Sukno, a member of the Yugoslavian team that beat the Americans and Terry Schroeder, now Team USA men's coach, at the 1984 Olympics.
The tidbit about Kiss being in that movie is an interesting tidbit, and Sukno was a beast against the United States in the semifinal game as he basically won the game on his own with that hat trick.
Farber also breaks down the chances for Team USA:
Team USA, which returns 11 of its 13 players from Beijing, is a solid contender but recently has failed to deliver in critical matches. The Americans played for bronze at the world championships in 2009, the World Cup in 2010 and the World League Super Final last month and each time came away without a medal. If the Americans emerge in the top two from the tough B Group, which includes Montenegro, Serbia and Hungary, they should have a reasonable path to the podium. Wins in two recent friendlies over Hungary should bolster confidence.
Looks like Farber and I are on the same page as for what to expect for the men's chances in London.
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