At first glance, Group A of the World League Super Final in Strasbourg (July 22 – 27) is much stronger than Group B
Only one big European team plays in Group B – Italy. Team USA is also considered a favorite. Besides them, Canada and host France, which have never reached the semifinals, are here.
But, if we analyze rosters and the teams’ ambitions, maybe it isn’t true that the groups aren’t balanced.
The teams in Group B came with (almost) all of their key players, unlike Serbia, Spain, Montenegro, and Australia. That is a strong signal that they have high ambitions.
World League 2020/21: 4th place
Best results in the F8 tournaments: silver medal (2003, 2011, 2017), bronze medal (2012), 4th place (2004, 2016, 2021)
Road to Strasbourg: 2nd place in the European qualifications.
Roster – Goalkeepers: Marco Del Lungo , Gianmarco Nicosia. Field players: Jacopo Alesiani, Edoardo Di Somma, Vincenzo Dolce, Vincenzo Renzuto Iodice , Francesco Cassia, Francesco Condemi, Filippo Ferrero , Luca Damonte, Giacomo Cannella, Nicholas Presciutti, Andrea Fondelli, Matteo Iocchi Gratta, Luca Marziali. Head coach: Alessandro Campagna.
Italy didn’t defend the World champion title in Budapest, but the “Settebello” can’t be unsatisfied after the Worlds. They claimed the silver medal after a penalty shootout loss to Spain in the final.
The Italians will target the medal in Split at the Europeans. But, the World League in Strasbourg won’t be only a transit station on the way to Split. Head coach Alessandro Campagna selected the roster with ten players who won silver in Budapest. Only Francesco Di Fulvio, the first star of the team, will rest during the tournament, while Gonzalo Echenique and Lorenzo Bruni are missing due to injuries.
Italy was Olympic, World, European champion and won gold in the FINA World Cup. Only the World League title is missing in the Italians’ treasury. They have the team that can battle for 1st place in Strasbourg and tries to end the tradition of losses in the World League finals and semifinals.
World League 2020/21: silver medal
Best results in the F8 tournaments – three silver medals (2008, 2016, 2021), bronze (2003), six 4th places (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017).
Road to Strasbourg: 1st place in the Intercontinental Cup
Roster – Goalkeepers: Adrian Weinberg, Jack Turner. Field players: Alex Bowen, Hannes Daube, Chase Dodd, Jake Ehrhardt, Matt Farmer, Thomas Gruwell, Ben Hallock, Max Irving, Ben Stevenson, Marko Vavic, Dylan Woodhead, Tyler Abramson, Kacper Langiewicz. Head coach: Dejan Udovicic.
Unlike the European teams, the Americans will finish their summer season in Strasbourg. Therefore, they don’t have to save energy for the upcoming challenges. The Final Eight is the climax of the season for Team USA, and they arrive with almost the same team that played at the World Championships (goalkeeper Drew Holland was replaced by Jack Turner)
The World League campaigns have been quite successful for the Americans in the last decades. They have reached the semifinals ten times, and they have won four medals. Last year, they lost to Montenegro in a very close final.
After a good performance at the World Championships, where they finished 6th (and beat Hungary), Team USA wants to prove again that it has made progress and can battle for trophies along with the European powerhouses.
World League 2020/21: 7th place (didn’t qualify but was invited to play at the Super Final)
Best results in the F8 tournaments: 6th place (2006), 7th place (2021)
Road to Strasbourg: host (8th place in the European qualifications)
Roster – Goalkepers: Lorris Canovas, Hugo Fontani, Field players: Emil Bjorch, Alexandre Bouet, Charles Canonne, Ugo Crousillat, Andrea De Nardi, Clement Dubois, Enzo Khasz, Roman Marion Vernoux, Mehdi Marzouki, Logan Piot, Remi Saudadier, Pierre-Frederic Vanpeperstraete, Thomas Vernoux. Head coach: Florian Bruzzo.
France is the only of the participants in the F8 that didn’t play at the World Championships. The hosts will open their summer season in Strasbourg. In the last few seasons, the French have been bringing the quality of their water polo to a higher and higher level from year to year.
For the first time after many years, they will be the hosts of a big tournament. That fact might be a burden, but they will certainly do their best in Strasbourg. France has never played in the semifinals of the World League. We’ll see if an experienced team, led by Ugo Crousillat, Mehdi Marzouki, Thomas Vernoux, can defeat some of the favorites and reach the podium. Anyway, France’s win over a favorite won’t be a surprise. Everybody is aware that the hosts aren’t underdogs. After all, they beat Spain in the qualifications for the Super Final.
World League 2020/21: didn’t participate
Best results in the World League: two 6th places (2008, 2014), two 7th places (2007, 2011), 8th place (2019).
Road to Strasbourg: 4th place in the Intercontinental Cup.
Goalkeepers: Milan Radenovic, Brody McKnight. Field players: Patrick Almasi, Jeremie Blanchard, Jeremie Cote, Bogdan Djerkovic, Rauel Mard D’Souza, Aleksa Gardijan, Diego Gonzalez, Matt Halajian, Jason O’Donnell, Gaelan Geddes Patterson, Aria Soleimanipak, Bor Tanasijevic. Head coach:Patrick Oaeten.
Canada was the biggest loser at the World Championships in Budapest. They really didn’t have luck. The North Americans finished in 16th place, but they didn’t have a chance to prove what they were able for. The Canadians were disqualified from the group stage because of Covid cases on the team. After that, they withdrew and didn’t play in the classification matches.
So, the World League is an excellent opportunity for them to display their capabilities on the international stage and recover from the shock in Budapest. They have been in Europe for a while and have prepared in Italy. Canada is taking the Super Final seriously.
Friday, July 22
14:00 Italy – Canada
16:00 Australia – Spain
18:00 Serbia – Montenegro
20:00 USA – France
Saturday, July 23
14:00 Australia – Montenegro
16:00 Serbia – Spain
18:00 USA – Canada
20:00 Italy – France
Sunday, July 24
14:00 Italy – USA
16:00 Serbia – Australia
18:00 Montenegro – Spain
20:00 Canada – France
All times are CET
2002: 1. Russia, 2. Spain, 3. Hungary
2003: 1. Hungary, 2. Italy, 3. USA
2004: 1. Hungary, 2. Serbia and Montenegro, 3. Greece
2005: 1. Serbia and Montenegro, 2. Hungary, 3. Germany
2006: 1. Serbia and Montenegro, 2. Spain, 3. Greece
2007: 1. Serbia, 2. Hungary, 3. Australia
2008: 1. Serbia, 2.USA, 3. Australia
2009: 1. Montenegro, 2. Croatia, 3. Serbia
2010: 1. Serbia, 2. Montenegro, 3. Croatia
2011: 1. Serbia, 2. Italy, 3. Croatia
2012: 1. Croatia, 2. Spain, 3. Italy
2013: 1. Serbia, 2. Hungary, 3. Montenegro
2014: 1. Serbia, 2. Hungary, 3. Montenegro
2015: 1. Serbia, 2. Croatia, 3. Brazil
2016: 1. Serbia, 2. USA, 3. Greece
2017: 1. Serbia, 2. Italy, 3. Croatia
2018: 1. Montenegro, 2. Hungary, 3. Spain
2019: 1. Serbia, 2. Croatia, 3. Australia
2020/2021: 1. Montenegro, 2. USA, 3. Greece