The European qualifications for the Men’s World League Super Final will open a packed season of the national water polo competitions.
The first round of the continental preliminaries will be played tomorrow.
Twelve teams take part in the qualifications.
Group A: Montenegro, Hungary, Romania.
Group B: Spain, France, Germany.
Group C: Italy, Serbia, Slovakia.
Group D: Greece, Croatia, Russia.
After the group stage, which will be held in a single round-robin format (each team will play one home and one away match), the top two teams from each group will advance to the final European tournament (April 14 – 16)
The host of the European Final Eight hasn’t been determined yet. According to unofficial information, it’s most likely that the tournament will be held in Hungary.
But, FINA announced in its press release that the World League Super Final would take place in Strasbourg (France) from July 23 to 29. This means that France has already qualified as a host, and there are only three available Super Final berths in the European qualifications. Only medal winners at the European F8 will qualify for the Super Final if France doesn’t reach the European semifinals. Besides four European, the best four teams from the Intercontinental qualifications will battle for medals in Strasbourg.
Tomorrow, three encounters will be played. Each can be considered derby and it’s hard to predict outcomes, especially because of the fact that most of the teams will play without some of their best players because of Covid infections, injuries, or other reasons. The first game of Group B (Germany – France) has been postponed due to coronavirus
In Group A, Hungary, the European champion and the bronze medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, will host Montenegro, the 2021 World League winner. The match will be played in Gyor. None of the teams will be complete. Denes Varga and Marton Vamos will be missing from the Hungarian team. Captain Drasko Brguljan and Aleksandar Ivovic aren’t on Montenegro’s roster for this match.
Olympic champion Serbia and World champion Italy will open the competition in Group C, with their encounter in Sabac. Serbia, which is the 12-time World League winner (twice as Serbia and Montenegro), rejuvenated the team after the Tokyo Olympics. Six great aces retired. Dejan Savic can count only on five Olympic champions in the game against Italy (B.Mitrovic, Mandic, Randjelovic, S.Rasovic, Lazic) because Nikola Jaksic and Nikola Dedovic are missing from the list of 16 candidates for this match. Italy arrives without several experienced players, only three of 13 Tokyo Olympians (Del Lungo, N.Presciutti, Di Fulvio). Besides these three, one more player who participated in the Tokyo Games was called up by Campagna – Vincenzo Dolce. But, Dolce won’t come to Serbia since he tested positive for Covid, as well as Andrea Mladossich.
Many stars retired after the Tokyo Olympics. So, almost all of the best European teams are at their new beginnings. This also applies to Croatia and Greece that will play each other in Athens tomorrow (Group D). Greece achieved historic success by winning silver in Tokyo. The Olympic final was the last game under the national flag for center-forwards Konstantinos Mourikis and Christodoulos Kolomvos. Croatia left without Buslje, Jokovic,Garcia, Loncar, Obradovic. A Russian lefthanded Konstantin Kharkov, who will replace Jokovic or Garcia hasn’t the right to play for Croatia yet.
Croatia’s last rehearsal before the trip to Greece was a friendly match between the Croatian national team and Jadran Split, played in Zagreb yesterday. The game was held on the occasion of two 30-year anniversaries – Croatia’s independence day and 30 years from Jadran’s win in the Champions League. But, it was a literally friendly game, with no competitive tension, and ended in an 8:8 draw. Members of the Croatian team who play for Jadran were on the Split-based team’s roster in this match.
An encounter between Germany and France in Berlin (Group B) has been postponed. The German Federation announced that the game had been postponed due to coronavirus cases in both teams and that the French Federation and FINA had accepted the Germans’ request for the postponement. The match against France was supposed to be a debut on Germany’s bench for an experienced Montenegrin coach Petar Porobic.
Group A: Hungary – Montenegro (18:00)
Group B: Germany – France (postponed)
Group C: Serbia – Italy (19:00)
Group D: Greece – Croatia (20:00)
All times are local
Group A: Montenegro – Romania
Group B: France – Spain
Group C: Italy – Slovakia
Group D: Croatia- Russia
Group A: Romania – Hungary
Group B: Spain – Germany
Group C: Slovakia – Serbia
Group D: Russia – Greece
April 14: Quarterfinals (1A – 2B; 1B – 2A; 1C – 2D; 1D – 2C).
April 15: Semifinals
April 16: Final day