Split: welcome to the group of death

Only weeks after the European Water Polo Championships, the very best of water polo is set to return to Split as the draw for the second qualification round in the Champions League sends five quality sides to the Croatian city to battle for the two qualifying spots.

The draw for the second qualification round in the Champions League was conducted today. Eleven teams made the cut in the first round, they were joined by the eight sides representing the wild-card holder nations – these clubs were drawn into three groups of fives and one group of four.

Since only the top two can make the qualification play-offs, all four tournaments promise great battles. However, Group A stands out as Split will see perhaps the toughest fights of all. Here Jadran, played in the main round last season, is to welcome the No. 3 teams of Serbia, Hungary and Italy, namely Sabac, Vasas and Savona, plus Romania’s Steaua, which also played in the Champions League last season.

Spain’s CN Barcelona and France’s Noisy will also be heavily challenged by Romania’s Oradea and Montenegro’s Jadran Herceg Novi in Group B, while in Group C the other Montenegrin club Primorac should use the home advantage as the team is the underdog in the company of regular Champions League participant OSC, Greece’s Vouliagmeni and France’s Tourcoing.

AN Brescia, semi-finalist in the last two editions of the Final Eight, is of course the big favourite in Group D. Here the race for the second qualifying spot should be really exciting with Germany’s Duisburg, Croatia’s Mladost and host Panionios in the mix.

According to the new regulations, the third, fourth and fifth placed teams can continue their European campaigns in the second qualification round in the Euro Cup.

Champions League, Qualification Round II (13-16 October)

Group A (Split, CRO)

VK Sabac (SRB), Jadran Split (CRO), Vasas Budapest (HUN), RN Savona (ITA), Steaua Bucharest (ROU)

Group B (Barcelona, ESP)

CN Barcelona (ESP), CN Noisy Le Sec (FRA), CSM Oradea (ROU), Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE), Vitoria Guimaraes (POR)

Group C (Kotor, MNE), 14-16 October

OSC Budapest (HUN), Vouliagmeni NC (GRE), EN Tourcoing (FRA), Primorac Kotor (MNE)

Group D (Athens, GRE)

AN Brescia (ITA), Duisburg (GER), HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO), Panionios GSS Athens (GRE), EVK Zaibas (LTU)