The derby of the LEN Euro Cup quarterfinals will be, without any doubt, a Hungarian – Italian clash.
The draw for the next stage has paired Hungarian champion Szolnok, the winner of the 2021 LEN Euro Cup, and Ortigia (Italy). Other duels will be interesting too.
(1st leg – October 27, 2nd leg – November 10)
Sabadell (Spain) – Savona (Italy)
Ortigia (Italy) – Szolnok (Hungary)
Mladost (Croatia) – Telimar Palermo (Italy)
Barcelona (Spain) – BVSC Zuglo (Hungary)
The four losing teams of the Champions League playoffs (Szolnok, Mladost, Savona, Barcelona) were in the first, and the four best clubs from the Euro Cup qualifications in the other “pot” of the draw. There will be no national derbies, although teams from only four countries will play in the quarterfinals.
Former European champion Szolnok “dropped” to the LEN Euro Cup after it was eliminated from the Champions League by OSC Budapest. OSC took revenge for defeats in the 2021 LEN Euro Cup final and Hungarian Champioship final.
Ortigia is the only of the eight quarterfinalists that played in the LEN Champions League last season. The Sicilians reached the final of the LEN Euro Cup in 2020 before the season was canceled. Rosters, ambitions, and the reputation of both clubs guarantee interesting clashes.
Szolnok traveled to Sicily last season, too. It played in Group A of the LEN Champions League qualifications in Sicily. The Hungarians won 3rd place, while Ortigia finished atop and qualified for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.
It’s interesting that four quarterfinalists of the 2022 LEN Euro Cup played in the same group of the qualifications for the Champions League last year. Mladost won 2nd and Barcelona 4th place in Group A in Syracuse.
The other Sicilian club Telimar Palermo, which debuted in LEN competitions this season, will face Mladost, one of the most successful clubs in water polo history. Still, Telimar is a favorite this time because Mladost rejuvenated the squad. However, the Croats aren’t underdogs.
It isn’t easy to predict the outcome of the remaining two duels, too. Barcelona will meet BVSC, while Savona, which was very close to qualifying to the Champions League, will face Sabadell.
Besides reigning champion Szolnok, three quarterfinalists have already won the LEN Euro Cup: Barcelona (1995 and 2004), Mladost (2001) and Savona (2005, 2011 and 2012).
Quarterfinals: October 27 and November 10, 2021
Semifinals: January 12 and February 9, 2022
Finals: March 5 and March 26, 2022.