Four months and four days before the start of the 35th European Championships in Split (August 27 – September 10), the draw for both women’s and men’s tournaments was conducted.
The drawing ceremony for the 35th Europeans took place in Split this evening. The venue was an ancient palace built for the Roman emperor Diocletian at the beginning of the fourth century AD.
GROUP A: Italy, Georgia, Slovakia, Montenegro.
GROUP B: Greece, Malta, France, Croatia.
GROUP C: Romania, Germany, Spain, Netherlands.
GROUP D: Serbia, Hungary, Israel, Slovenia.
ROAD TO MEDALS
Playoffs – PO1: A2 – C3; PO2: B2 – D3; PO3: A3 – C2; PO4: B3 – D2
Quarterfinals – QF1: D1 – winner PO1; QF2: C1 – winner PO2; QF3: B1 – Winner PO3; QF4: A1 – winner PO4.
Semifinals – Winners QF1 –QF2; Winners QF3 – QF 4.
There will be a lot of derbies in the preliminary stage of the men’s Championships.
But, the highlight of the group phase will be an encounter between reigning European champion Hungary and Olympic champion Serbia. The Serbs won four consecutive gold medals at the European champions (2012 – 2018). Two years ago, Hungary inherited the Serbs on the throne. The other two competitors in this group are underdogs in this group– Israel, which will make its debut at the Europeans, and Slovenia, which has been invited to play at the Europeans after Russia’s exclusion. Each team that plays at the European championships deserves respect, but Slovenia and Israel aren’t in the same weight category as Hungary and Serbia.
Host Croatia and Greece, the silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, are favorites in Group B. But, neither of the teams mustn’t underestimate France, which has made significant progress in the last few years (as the Olympic Games in Paris are approaching). Malta won’t be a too high hurdle for the other three teams.
World champion Italy and World League winner Montenegro (which won bronze in Budapest two years ago) will battle for 1st place in Group A. Georgia and Slovakia are contenders for 3rd place and a spot in the playoffs.
“The winner of the draw” is Spain, the 2020 silver medalist, which avoided teams from the second pot of the draw (find out more below), but the Spaniards are in the group with the teams that can cause surprises – the Netherlands, Germany, and Romania.
Before the draw, the teams were seeded in four pots based on the rankings at the 2020 European championships and in the Qualifications for the tournament in Split. Since Russia (8th place at the 2020 Europeans) was excluded, three teams were in Pot 2, and five in pot 4 (Slovenia, the best 3rd-placed team in the qualifiers, was invited after Russia’s exclusion).
Pot 1: Hungary, Spain, Montenegro, Croatia (teams ranked 1st – 4th at the 2020 Europeans)
Pot 2: Serbia, Italy, Greece (teams ranked 5th -7th at the 2020 Europeans)
Pot 3: France, Georgia, Romania, Netherlands (1st-placed teams in the qualifications)
Pot 4: Germany, Slovakia, Malta, Israel (2nd -placed teams in the qualifications) and Slovenia.
Group Stage: August 29, August 31, and September 2.
Knockout round – Playoffs (September 4), Quarterfinals (September 6), Semifinals (September 8), Final day (September 10)
GROUP A: Germany, Croatia, Hungary, Greece, Netherlands, Romania.
GROUP B: Serbia, France, Slovakia, Italy, Israel, Spain.
The top four teams qualify for the quarterfinals.
ROAD TO MEDALS
Quarterfinals – QF1: A1 – B4, QF2: A2 – B3; QF3: A3 –B2; QF4: A4 – B1.
Semifinals – winners QF1 – QF3; winners QF2- OF4.
At first sight, reigning champion Spain was lucky in the draw. Group A, with three favorites of similar qualities – the Netherlands, Hungary, and Greece – is a little bit stronger than Group B. The toughest challenge for Spain, the runner-up at the Tokyo Olympic Games, will be a match against Italy. The “Setterossa” are eager to win a medal after they failed to qualify for the Olympic Games.
The teams were seeded in five pots based on the rankings at the 2020 European championships and in the Qualifications for the tournament in Split. After Russia (silver at the 2020 Europeans) was excluded, Slovakia as the best 3rd-placed team in the qualifications was invited to fill the vacancy. Because of Russia’s suspension, in some pots, there was an odd number of teams.
Pot 1: Spain (European champion)
Pot 2: Hungary, Netherlands (3rd and 4th place at the 2020 Europeans)
Pot 3: Italy (5th place at the 2020 ECH)
Pot 4: Germany, Greece, Israel (1st-placed teams in the qualifications) Slovakia (8th place at the 2020 Europeans), Croatia (host and 10th place at the 2020 ECH)
Pot 5: Romania, Serbia, France (2nd-placed teams in the qualifications)
Group stage: August 27, 28, 30, September 1 and 3.
Knockout round – Quarterfinals (September 5), Semifinals (September 7) , Final day (September 9).