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2018 European Water Polo Championships, Men’s qualifications – Preview

European Water Polo Championships 2018 Barcelona Qualifications

The old guard is ready to march on

It’s another exciting weekend for the water polo fans with the first leg of the men’s playoffs is commencing. Just as in the women’s qualifications, the pretenders coming from the first phase of the qualifications challenge the 9-16th ranked sides of the previous edition of the European Championships. The higher a team finished in the second round of the qualifying process, the lower ranked team from Belgrade was drawn against. This has set up a series of thrilling duels.

For this Saturday, the fiercest battles are forecasted for Kharkiv where Ukraine takes on Turkey, in Minsk where Belarus clashes with Malta and perhaps in Tbilisi where Georgia faces Israel. These three encounters can produce some thrilling moments, though Malta and Georgia are still favored to retain their respective berths for Barcelona 2018, they showed some fine moments in the Europa Cup prelims last weekend.

As for the other matches, it’s hard to see members of the ‘old guard’ bowing out. Almost all of them had great preparations in the Europa Cup while playing with the top sides of the continent. The Netherlands, Romania, and Germany all showed some strength while France even managed to make the cut for the Super Final. These sides, also Slovakia, are overwhelming favorites to return to the big stage this July, in most cases a decisive win already in the first leg is very much in the cards.

A great show is due in France as the respective draws paired the French with neighboring Switzerland both in the men’s and women’s playoffs so this weekend will see back-to-back matches in Limoges (to be repeated next week in Uster).

European Water Polo Championships – Qualification Play-offs, 1st leg

Men’s

14.30 Netherlands v Lithuania

15.00 Portugal v Slovakia

17.00 Belarus v Malta

18.00 Poland v Germany

18.00 Romania v Czech Republic

18.30 Georgia v Israel

20.00 Ukraine v Turkey

20.30 France v Switzerland

Women

18.00 France v Switzerland

Return leg: 3 March

For detailed statistics and play-by-play description visit www.len.eu

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