As usual, the season of international club competitions starts in September with the Champions League Qualifications.
The first games of the 2024 Champions League Qualifications are scheduled for Thursday.
This season, LEN shortened the qualifications. Like in the previous years, four teams will advance to the Main Phase. But, instead of three, there will be only one qualification round (it had happened only once in recent history – in the post-Covid season). The competition format has been changed, and the calendar is fully packed. Therefore, the road to the Champions League Group Stage is shorter but very demanding for all clubs in the qualifications.
Fourteen teams, split into four groups, will battle for the four places in the Group Stage. The group winners will advance to the Champions League. The others will continue the season in the LEN Euro Cup.
Champions League Qualifications (September 7 – 10), groups
GROUP A (Hannover): Waspo 98 Hannover (Germany), Barcelona (Spain), Crvena Zvezda (Serbia), EPS Honved (Hungary), Apollon Smyrnis (Greece)
GROUP B (Kragujevac): Brescia (Italy), Radnicki Kragujevac (Serbia), Primorac Kotor (Montenegro), ASC Duisburg (Germany), Noisy-le-Sec (France).
GROUP C (Oradea): Vouliagmeni (Greece), Ortigia (Italy), Oradea (Romania), Primorje EB Rijeka (Croatia).
GROUP D (Dubrovnik): Jug AO Dubrovnik (Croatia), OSC Budapest (Hungary), Tourcoing (France), Dinamo Bucharest (Romania).
Three participants in last season’s Final Eight will play in the qualifications – Vouliagmeni (4th place in the 2023 CHL), Jug (7th place) and Brescia (8th place). All three teams have chances to reach the group stage, despite the fact they left without several key players during the transfer window. Still, all three will have to overcome significant challenges to reach the group stage. Besides these three clubs, three teams that played in the CHL last season will start their European campaign this weekend – Waspo 98 Hannover, Radnicki and OSC Budapest.
Six former European champions will battle for the Champions League tickets from Thursday to Sunday: Jug, Barcelona, Crvena Zvezda, Honved, Primorac, and OSC. The winner of the first-ever Challenger Cup, Apollon Smyrnis, is here, too.
There are no heavy favorites for the top spots in all groups, so exciting battles are in sight.
Practically, only two teams – ASC Duisburg and Dinamo Bucharest – can be considered underdogs in a strong competition.
In Group A, there are no clear favorites for the top spot.
Brescia is tipped to finish on top of Group B. Still, host Radnicki, Primorac, and Noisy-le-Sec have chances to qualify for the Champions League.
Vouliagmeni and Ortigia are expected to be the top two teams in Group C, but they will have to work hard to earn points against Oradea and Primorje.
Three derbies will likely decide the winner in Group D. Jug, OSC, and Tourcoing will all be looking to secure the top spot. The Croats’ advantage will be the home field, but the Hungarians (who entered the season with a rejuvenated team) and the French have the right to believe they can finish 1st in Dubrovnik.
GROUP A (Hannover)
7 September: EPS Honved – Crvena Zvezda (16:30),Waspo 98 Hannover – Barcelona (18:30),
8 September: Barcelona – Crvena Zvezda (16:30), Waspo 98 Hannover – Apollon SMyrnis (18:30)
9 September: Barcelona – Honved (09:00), Crvena Zvezda – Apollon (11:00), Apollon – Honved (17:00), Waspo 98 – Crvena Zvezda (19:00).
10 September: Barcelona – Apollon (10:30), Waspo 98 – Honved (12:30).
GROUP B (Kragujevac)
7 September: ASC Duisburg – Noisy-le-Sec (18:00), SPD Radnicki – Primorac (20:00)
8 September: Brescia – ASC Duisburg (18:00), Primorac – Noisy-le-Sec (20:00)
9 September: ASC Duisburg – Radnicki (10:00), Noisy-le-Sec – Brescia (12:00), Brescia – Primorac (19:00), Radnicki – Noisy-le-Sec (21:00).
10 September: Primorac – Duisburg (11:00), Radnicki – Brescia (20:00)
GROUP C (Oradea)
8 September: Vouliagmeni – Ortigia (18:00 – 17:00 CET), CSM Oradea – Primorje EB (19:45 – 18:45 CET)
9 September: Primorje EB – Vouliagmeni (17:00 – 16:00 CET), Oradea – Ortigia (18:45 – 17:45 CET)
10 September: Ortigia – Primorje EB (10:00 – 9:00 CET), Oradea – Vouliagmeni (11:45 – 10:45 CET)
GROUP D (Dubrovnik)
8 September: Jug AO – Dinamo Bucharest (18:00), OSC Budapest – Tourcoing (20:00)
9 September: Jug – Tourcoing (18:00), OSC Budapest – Dinamo Bucharest (20:00)
10 September: Dinamo – Tourcoing (16:00), Jug AO – OSC Budapest (18:00).
Composition of the groups in the Main Phase
GROUP A: Novi Beograd (Serbia), Sabadell (Spain), Steaua Bucharest (Romania), the winner of the qualification group B
GROUP B: Pro Recco (Italy), Olympiacos (Greece), Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia), the winner of the QF Group D
GROUP C: Ferencvaros (Hungary), Jadran Split (Croatia), Jadran Herceg Novi (Montenegro), the winner of the QF Group A
GROUP D: Barceloneta (Spain), Marseille (France), Spandau 04 Berlin (Germany), the winner of the QF Group C.