The draw for the Champions League Main Round was held in the Spaladium Arena, site of the ongoing European Water Polo Championships in Split. The group stage starts on 15 November, and right the first round will see a great clash between the 2018 champion Olympiacos and the last two seasons’ victor Pro Recco.
Group A: Pro Recco (ITA), Zodiac Atletic Barceloneta (ESP), Waspo 98 Hannover (GER), Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB), Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO), Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE), Winner of QG D, Winner of QG B
Group B: Novi Beograd (SRB), FTC-Telekom Budapest (HUN), CN Marseille (FRA), Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO), Astralpool Sabadell (ESP), Spandau 04 Berlin (GER), Winner of QG A, Winner of QG C
First a meeting was held for the wild card-holder clubs in the presence of LEN First Vice-President Josip Varvodic, LEN Bureau WP Liaison Fernando Carpena, LEN TWPC Chair Angel Moliner and LEN Operation Manager Marco Birri. Mr Birri announced that Euro Cup winner Astralpool Sabadell is the 12th club joining the ‘circle’ after Romania’s Steaua returned its wild card. After this event, the draw for the main round of the Champions League was conducted in the Spaladium Arena, during a break in the daily programme of the women’s tournament at the European Water Polo Championships.
As for the F8 participants from last June, seven clubs were part of the draw (fourth placed Brescia plays in the qualifications). Three of them landed in Group A, 2021 and 2022 winner Recco, Barceloneta and Hannover, while four, host and last season’s runner-up Novi Beograd, Ferencvaros, Marseille and Jug ended up in Group B. As for the first group, Olympiacos, winner in 2018 and runner-up in 2019, has been a regular F8 participant before they surprisingly failed to make the cut last season. They clash with Recco right away in the first round, a mouth-watering duel featuring many of the continent’s greatest players.
Barceloneta, Olympiacos and Radnicki were in the same group last season, just like Novi Beograd and Ferencvaros in the other ‘side’, as well as Marseille and Jug.
Four spots are to be filled by the teams coming from the qualifications and there are some pretty strong sides in that field too, like Brescia, or the Hungarians OSC and Vasas or Jadran Split from Croatia. Anyone of those would give a further boost for the excitements we can expect this season.
The main round kicks off on 15/16 November and will end on 23/24 May, then a week later, from 31 May till 3 June the Final Eight shall take place in Belgrade – for the first time over four days, accommodating the teams’ request to include a rest day as well.