The women’s Euro League kicks off on the coming weekend and the current stage has never looked so tough as this season’s preliminaries. Nineteen teams will chase the quarter-final berths – and at least 14 sides begin the quest with realistic chances to qualify but only eight shall survive.
Title-holder Kinef Kirishi’s task seems to a be bit easier compared to the challenges the other giants face, still, battling with host Sant Andreu (ESP) and BVSC (HUN) won’t be a comfortable cruising for the Russians.
Last year runner-up, Sabadell – four-time winner since 2011 – should be ready to see off challenges from European Super Cup-holder Dunaujvaros (HUN), Rapallo (ITA) which returns to the European stage and the ever-dangerous Greek side of Vouliagmeni.
The group in Padova is perhaps the most balanced with the host Italians, last year’s LEN Trophy runner-up (also champions in 2015) Olympiacos (GRE), 2016 LEN Trophy winner Mataro (ESP) and Russia’s Ugra which has made the QFs a couple of times in the past.
And Group D in Athens also promises some outstanding clashes featuring two of last year’s Final Four participants UVSE (HUN) and Orizzonte (ITA) – in fact, they played for the bronze last season, the Italians took it – but Uralochka (RUS) and host Ethnikos (GRE) are also set to have a shot at the quarters.