The European qualifications for the Men’s World League Super Final start tomorrow.
Twelve teams will take part. They were drawn into four groups with three teams in each.
A group: Greece, Italy, Georgia.
B group: Hungary, Russia, France.
C group: Netherlands, Serbia, Croatia.
D group: Montenegro, Ukraine, Spain.
The competition system is pretty different than in previous years. The group stage will be held by a single round-robin system. Only three rounds will be played (each team will have two games).
After the Preliminary Stage, the top two teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals (see full schedule below).
The top four European teams will advance to the Super Final (23-28 June, a host to be determined) along with top 4 teams at the Intercontinental tournament, which will be held in the USA (28 April – 3 May).
It seems that Group C is the strongest one. Serbia, the reigning champion of the World League, and Croatia, the runner-up in the last season, will face off in this group. It’s unusual that the best two teams from the previous season play in the same group, but the compositions of the pots for the draw were determined according to the rankings at the 2019 Europa Cup, which was the qualifications for the World League. Croatia won the silver in that competition, while Serbia finished 6th. The LEN Europa Cup won’t be played this season, because of the packed calendar in the Olympic year.
Tomorrow, Serbia will play against the Netherlands in The Hague, while Croatia has a bye day.
The Serbs are entering the competition with a very strong team. A few players who missed the World Championships, return to the team. Among them are captain Filip Filipovic, Andrija Prlainovic, Dusko Pijetlovic, Milan Aleksic, Stefan Mitrovic.
The most interesting match of Day 1 will be an encounter between Greece and world champion Italy in Group A. Italy went to Athens without Gonzalo Echenique (injured) and captain Pietro Figlioli (because of the tactical reasons), but both teams will play with strong squads. Greece is seeking revenge for a narrow loss to Italy in the quarterfinals of the World Championships (6:7).
LEN Europa Cup winner Hungary, without captain Denes Varga (who is taking a break), will host Russia.
Montenegro shouldn’t have a hard task on Day 1. They will play against Ukraine in Niksic.
World League 2020, European Qualifications
Day 1 (12 November)
Greece-Italy (Athens, 18.30)
Hungary – Russia (Budapest, 18.30)
Netherlands – Serbia (Den Haag, 20)
Montenegro-Ukraine ( Niksic, 18)
Game Day 1 (12 November 2019)
Greece – Italy (Group A)
Hungary – Russia (Group B)
Netherlands – Serbia (Group C)
Montenegro – Ukraine (Group D)
Game Day 2 (17 December 2019)
Italy – Georgia (Group A)
Russia – France (Group B)
Serbia – Croatia (Group C)
Ukraine – Spain (Group D)
Game Day 3 (11 February 2020)
Georgia – Greece (Group A)
France – Hungary (Group B)
Croatia – Netherlands (Group C)
Spain – Montenegro (Group D)
Game Day 4 (17 March 2020)
OF1: 1A – 2B
QF2: 1B – 2A
QF3: 1C – 2D
QF4: 1D – 2C
3B – 3D
Game Day 5 (14 April 2020)
SF1: Winner QF4 – Winner QF1
SF2: Winner QF3 – Winner QF2
SF3: Loser QF4 – Loser QF1
SF4: Loser QF3 – Loser QF2
3D – 3C
3A – 3B
Game Day 6 (28 April 2020)
Matches for the final ranking
Game for 3rd-4th place classification
Game for 5th-6th place classification
Game for 7th-8th place classification
Rankings 9th – 12th
3A – 3D
3B – 3C