For the first time after ten years, Greece will have two clubs in the LEN Champions League. Besides wild-card holder Olympiacos, Vouliagmeni will represent Greece in the elite competition.
Vouliagmeni’s previous appearance in the Champions League was in the season 2012/13 when it reached the quarterfinals. In the next season, LEN inaugurated the new format with the wild cards and the F6/F8 tournaments. Vouliagmeni was a regular participant in the qualifications in the past ten years, but it didn’t reach the Main Round, although it was very close to the group stage a few times.
This year, the second-best Greek club finally passed the last hurdle and returned to the Champions League.
Roster – Goalkeepers: Panagiotis Tzortzatos, Emmanouil Andreadis. Field players: Aristeidis Chalyvopoulos, Andreas Almyras, Efstathios Kalogeropoulos, Charalampos Troulos, Dimitrios Nikolaidis, Nikolaos Papasifakis, Dylan Woodhead (USA), Ioannis Alafragkis, Marios Kapotsis, Nikolaos Kourovanis, Matt Farmer (USA), Nikolaos Kastrinakis, Nikolaos Giannatos, Fotios Gkogkos, Thomas Konstantopoulos, Christos Levantis, Anastasios Sapounakis, Gerasimos Spiliopoulos.
Head coach: Vladimir Vujasinovic.
Transfers summer 2022
Arrivals: head coach Vladimir Vujasinovic, Dimitris Nikolaidis (Spandau 04), Matt Farmer (Peristeri), Nikolaos Papasifakis (Peristeri), Dylan Woodhead (Ilysiakos), Andreas Almyras (Ydriakos)
Departures: head coach Hrvoje Koljanin (Jug Adriatic Osiguranje) Dimitrios Skoumpakis (Novi Beograd), Lovro Paparic (Partizan), Luka Lozina (Waspo Hannover), Konstantinos Gkiouvetsis (Panionios).
Key players: Panagiotis Tzortzatos, Dimitrios Nikolaidis, Marios Kapotsis, Efstathios Kalogeropoulos, Ioannis Alafragkis, Matt Farmer, Dylan Woodhead, Nikolaos Papasifakis…
Last five Champions League seasons – 2022: Qualification Round 2, 2021: Qualification Round (LEN Euro Cup semifinalist), 2020: Qualification Round 3 (LEN Euro Cup quarterfinalist), 2019: Qualification Round 3 (LEN Euro Cup quarterfinalist), 2018: Qualification Round 2.
Best CHL result: quarterfinals/top 8 (1992, 1998, 1999, 2013) Note: Vouliagmeni played in the quarterfinals in 1992 and 2013, and it participated in the Main Round in the seasons 1998 and 1999, when only eight clubs played in the group stage.
Trophies in other LEN competitions: Cup Winners’ Cup (1997)
Road to the 2023 Champions League – Qualification Round 2: Group B, 2nd place; Qualification Round 3: Noisy-le-Sec – Vouliagmeni 11:17 and 9:12.
Results in other competitions in the season 2022/23: 2nd place in the Greek League, the finalist of the Greek Cup.
Vouliagmeni’s female team clinched the title of European champion twice (2009 and 2010).
As for the men, the 1990s and the early 2000s were the golden years of Vouliagmeni. The club won four titles of the Greek champion (1991, 1997, 1998 and 2012), and one Cup Winners’ Cup (1997). It played in the Champions League quarterfinals twice (1990 and 2012). It has been in the circle of the best Greek clubs in the last ten years, but it couldn’t endanger Olympiacos’ domination.
Vouliagmeni achieved solid results in the LEN Euro Cup in the past several seasons, but the Champions League Main Round was an unattainable goal until November 2022.
The club entered the season with a new head coach Vladimir Vujasinovic. One of the best players ever replaced Hrvoje Koljanin, who left Vouliagmeni after four years spent on the bench. The team has significantly changed. Olympic silver medalist Dimitrios Skoumpakis left, along with several experienced players, but Greece’s center-forward Nikolaidis, two Americans (Farmer and Woodhead) and some other players reinforced the club.
The Greeks started the qualification in Round 2 in a tough group in Kotor with OSC Budapest, Tourcoing and host Primorac. Vouliagmeni won 2nd place in the group beating Tourcoing in a thriller. Just nine seconds before the end, Kalogeropoulos scored a winner. Vouliagmeni celebrated a 13:12 victory, jumped to 2nd place and qualified for the playoffs. The Greeks faced another French rival in Round 3 – Noisy-le-Sec. Vouliagmeni opened the doors of the Main Round with an excellent performance in the first game in Paris (17:11).
By reaching the group stage after ten years of absence, Vouliagmeni made a big success. Still, the Greeks don’t want to be just participants in the best competition for the clubs in the world but will target a higher half of the table.
Vouliagmeni is in Group A. The top favorites are reigning champion Pro Recco, where Vujasinovic left a strong mark as a player and was the head coach, then Vouliagmeni’s archrival Olympiacos and Spanish Barceloneta. But, the second-best Greek club can enter the battle for 4th place with other rivals – Radnicki, Jadran Split, Hannover and Dinamo Tbilisi. It will be a hard battle, but nothing is impossible.
Vouliagmeni’s first test will be the game against Radnicki in Kragujevac on November 15.