The draw for the Preliminary Round of the Champions League was held in Ostia (Italy) today.
After the „shortened“ 2020/21 season, due to the impacts of the pandemic, the Champions League returns to its usual format. Sixteen clubs will play in two groups. After 14 rounds of the double round-robin competition, the top four teams from each group will qualify for the F8. Novi Beograd, as a host, is already qualified for the final tournament. Novi Beograd is drawn into Group A, which means that the remaining seven teams in this group will battle for three available tickets.
Twelve wild-card holders, that were in today’s draw, were sorted to the “pots” according to the ranking in the previous season (champion Pro Recco and runner-up Ferencvaros were in the 1st line, etc). Three newcomers (Radnicki, Novi Beograd, and Steaua) were in the same pot. Spandau was lonely in the pot. So, for Spandau, it was drawn only in which group it would play.
The groups will be complete after the 3rd qualification round because four teams are coming from the qualifications.
Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia)
Novi Beograd (Serbia)
Radnicki Kragujevac (Serbia)
Qualifier D (winner of the encounter D of the 3rd qualification round)
Pro Recco (Italy)
Jug Dubrovnik (Croatia)
Waspo 98 Hannover (Germany)
Spandau 04 (Germany)
Steaua Bucharest (Romania)
At first sight, Group A is stronger and promises big battles for the F8. Novi Beograd is already qualified. Three former European champions – Ferencvaros, Barceloneta, and greatly reinforced Olympiacos – and Radnicki Kragujevac, the Serbian and the Regional League champion are contenders for the F8 berths.
But, the situation regarding the favorites for the F8 berths will be clearer after the qualifications. Some excellent teams will come from the qualifications, for sure. LEN Euro Cup winner Szolnok, OSC (2nd place in the 2020/21 LEN Euro Cup), Brescia, the bronze-medalist in the 2021 LEN Champions League, and other very good clubs will play in the qualifications.
A total of 21 clubs will play in the qualifications. Thirteen will play in the first qualification round (September 22 – 26) in groups in Savona and Podgorica.
Group A (Savona, Italy): Savona (Italy), Terrassa (Spain), Montpellier (France), Primorac Kotor (Montenegro), AZS UW WP Warsaw (Poland), Vitoria Guimaraes (Portugal)
Group B (Podgorica, Montenegro): OSC Budapest (Hungary), Jadran Split (Croatia), Apollon Smyrnis (Greece), Jadran Herceg Novi (Montenegro), Sintez Kazan (Russia), EVK Zaibas (Lithuania), Enka Istanbul (Turkey)
The top four ranked teams from both groups will advance to the second round (October 8-10).
Eight teams will start from the second qualification round (October 8 – 10): HAVK Mladost Zagreb (Croatia) Barcelona (Spain), Noisy Le Sec (France), Vouliagmeni NC (Greece), Szolnok (Hungary), Brescia (Italy),Crvena Zvezda (Serbia), Oradea (Romania).
In the second round, the 16 teams will be split into four groups of four.
The top two teams from each group of Round 2 will advance to Round 3. In the last qualification round, teams will face in four duels on a home-away basis. Winners of duels A and D will qualify for the Champions League group A, while winners of the encounters B and C will play in Group B, as was determined in today’s draw.
The first competition day brings a national derby. Novi Beograd, the host of the F8, will host Radnicki Kragujevac, the Serbian and the Regional League champion.
Barceloneta – Qualifier A
Novi Beograd – Radnicki
Qualifier D – Ferencvaros
Olympiacos – Dinamo Tbilisi
Marseille – Pro Recco
Qualifier C – Spandau Berlin
Jug AO – Waspo Hannover
Qualifier B – Steaua Bucharest
The preliminary phase starts on October 26/27 (each round will be played in two days, like in the season 2019/20). In the first half of the season (days 1 – 7), the games of Group A will be played a day before Group B. From the 8th day, the schedule will be switched, a round will be opened by the games of Group B.
Day 12 is scheduled for March 29/30. After that, a two-month break will begin, because the FINA World Championships in Fukuoka will be held between May 13 and 29.
Day 1: October 26/27, 2021
Day 2: November 9/10, 2021
Day 3 November 10/20, 2021
Day 4: November 30 and December 1, 2021
Day 5: December 14/15, 2021
Day 6: December 20/21, 2021
Day 7: January 11/12, 2022
Day 8: January 25/26, 2022
Day 9: February 8/9, 2022
Day 10: February 22/23, 2022
Day 11: March 18/19, 2022
Day 12: March 29/30, 2022
Day 13: June 7/8, 2022
Day 14: June 14/15, 2022
Belgrade (June 30 – July 2, 2022)