The World Aquatics World Cup finished in Los Angeles a few days ago, and the 20th World Championships in Fukuoka is just around the corner (the water polo tournament begins on July 16).
Between the two big competitions in America and Asia, there will be a lot of water polo action in Europe. The 3rd Men’s European U15 Championships will take place between July 8 and 16. The venue is the “Moraca pool” in Podgorica.
The capital of Montenegro will host the fourth big water polo event in the last two years, after the final tournament of the European qualifications for the 2022 World League, the European U17 Championships, held in September, and Division 1 of the World Cup (March).
The upcoming tournament will be the largest European water polo championship ever. The boys from 25 countries will take part.
A total of 28 teams participated in the European senior championships. That number will increase to 32 (16 male + 16 female teams) in 2024, but these are two championships in one, and many nations have two teams. Only one champion will be crowned in Podgorica.
LEN decided not to organize the qualifications for the Europeans. The doors of the championships were opened to all national federations. So, almost half of the 52 countries in LEN membership sent their teams to Podgorica.
Many nations will make their debut at a major competition.
The format of the Europeans isn’t the same, but it’s similar to the new formats of other LEN championships.
The teams are split into two divisions. The top 8 from the previous championships are in Division 1, and the other teams are in Division 2. But, because of the large number of participating teams, only the four winners of the groups in Division 2 will advance to the playoff round. The others will play in the 13th – 26th place classification.
The top three teams from groups in Division 1 will directly qualify for the quarterfinals. From the quarterfinals, the format will be as usual.
Group A: Spain, Italy, Hungary, Montenegro.
Group B: Croatia, Serbia, Turkey, Greece.
Group C: Malta, Moldova, Bulgaria, Lithuania.
Group D: Netherlands, Israel, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland.
Group E: Georgia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Germany.
Group F: Poland, Romania, Slovenia, The Czech Republic.
ROAD TO THE MEDALS
Playoffs round 1 (July 12): 1C – 1D (PO match 1), 1E – 1F (PO match 2).
Crossover round (July 13): 4B – winner PO2 (CO1), 4A – winner PO1 (CO2)
Quarterfinals (July 14): 1A – winner CO1 , 1B – winner CO2, 2A – 3C, 3A – 2C .
The semifinals are on July 15, and the medal matches are on July 16.
9th – 25th place classification
The teams ranked 3rd and 4th in Division 2 will play in the 17th – 24th place classification. The teams ranked 2nd in Division, the losers in the playoffs and crossover round will go to the 9th – 16th classification. The 5th-placed team in Group D will finish the tournament after the group stage.
The previous two editions of the Men’s U15 Europeans were organized in 2019 (Burgas, Bulgaria) and 2021 (Loule, Portugal), with Hungary taking the gold medal in both events. However, it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that Hungary is defending its title this year as a new generation of players will compete in Podgorica. It’s likely that none of the players representing their countries have ever participated in a major competition before.
Several friendly U15 tournaments were held this year. Croatia emerged as the winner in the Varazdin and Duisburg tournaments, which gathered many excellent teams. However, there were many exciting games in both tournaments. So, almost all of the teams in Division 1 have a chance of winning a medal. It’s possible that a team or two from Division 2 could also surprise the favorites.
It’s going to be an exciting and action-packed event! Each of the first four days (group phase, July 8 – 11) will be jam-packed with ten games per day. The daily program will start bright and early at 09:00 and won’t end until after 22:00. After the group stage, there still will be eight games per day to enjoy.
DAY 1 (July 8)
Group A: Spain – Italy (19:40), Hungary – Montenegro (21:00)
The first round in Group B is on July 9.
Group C: Malta – Bulgaria (09:00), Moldova – Lithuania (10:20)
Group D: Isreael – Ireland (11:40), Bosnia and Herzegovina – Netherlands (13:00). France bye.
Group E: Georgia – Ukraine (14:20), Switzerland – Germany (15:40)
Group F: Poland – Slovenia (17:00), Romania – Czech Republic (18:20)