The draws for the first qualification rounds of the LEN Champions League and LEN Euro Cup have taken place in Sibenik during the Women’s European U17 Championships.
LEN announced that though the tournaments would be held in line with the LEN sanitary protocols (bubble events with regular testing – spectator attendance depends on the respective organizers), both series returned to their original formats with three qualification rounds in the Champions League and two in the Euro Cup.
Champions League, Qualifications – Round 1
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.
Thirteen teams will start in the first qualification round for the Champions League. They were split into two groups.
It seems that the battle for the four places which lead to the second round will be much harder in Group B than in Group A. Only one club – Lithuanian EZK is an underdog in Podgorica. Jadran Split and Enka Istanbul have brought several outstanding reinforcements this summer. OSC Budapest is one of the best Hungarian clubs, and it played in the LEN Euro Cup final last year. Jadran Herceg Novi, Apollon Smyrnis, Sintez Kazan also have high ambitions. Jadran Herceg Novi will be a host of the B group. The tournament will take place in Podgorica because the pool in Herceg Novi is closed after the roof collapsed.
LEN hasn’t announced the list of the wild-card holders for the next season. However, after the draw, it’s clear that Montenegro won’t have a club with the wild card since Jadran Herceg Novi, which was one of the wild-card holders in the previous few seasons, will play in the qualifications, as well as Primorac, the runner-up in the 2020/21 Montenegrin Championship.
As we already published, Radnicki Kragujevac, Steaua Bucharest, and Novi Beograd (the host of the F8) are new clubs with wild cards. However, we still wait for an official and complete list of the clubs which will play in the Champions League without the qualifications.
Each nation that has a wild-card holder can have two clubs in the Champions League qualifications – one starts in the first, and the other in the second qualification round. If one country has two clubs with the wild cards (like Serbia this season), then only one club plays in the qualifications and it starts from the second round. The Serbian club that earned the right to play in the 2nd qualification round is Crvena Zvezda.
According to unofficial information, the clubs with wild cards will be Pro Recco (Italy), Ferencvaros (Hungary), Jug AO (Croatia), Barceloneta (Spain), Olympiacos (Greece), Waspo Hannover (Germany), Spandau 04 (Germany), Radnicki (Serbia), Marseille (France), Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia), Steaua Bucharest (Romania), and host of the F8 Novi Beograd (Serbia). But, there is still no official confirmation by LEN.
If this is the list of the wild-card holders, then the clubs that have the right to start from the 2nd qualification round are Brescia (Italy), Szolnok (Hungary), Mladost (Croatia), Crvena Zvezda (Serbia), OSC Potsdam (Germany), Vouliagmeni (Greece), Noisy-le-Sec (France), Barcelona (Spain), Oradea (Romania) and the 2nd-placed team from the Georgian League.
LEN Euro Cup, Qualifications – Round 1
(September 30 – October 3)
Group A (Sibenik, Croatia): Shturm Ruza (Russia), Solaris Sibenik (Croatia), Carouge Geneve (Switzerland), Sant Andreu (Spain), Telimar Palermo (Italy)
Group B (Syracuse, Italy): Peristeri (Greece), Team Strasbourg (France), Ludwigsburg 08 (Germany),Ortigia Syracuse (Italy)
Group C (Utrecht, Netherlands): Sabac (Serbia), ASC Duisburg (Germany), Vasas Budapest (Hungary), Tourcoing (France), UZSC Utrecht (Netherlands).
Group D (Novi Sad, Serbia): BVSC Zuglo (Hungary), CN Sabadell (Spain), Vojvodina Novi Sad (Serbia), AEK Athens (Greece).
The top two ranked sides from each group will qualify for the second round.
A total of 18 teams start in the LEN Euro Cup. There are at least three favorites in each of the four groups, while there are only two available spots, and some good teams will finish their European season in the first round.