sabato 9 agosto 2014

Champions League qualification in Marseille, Herceg Novi

On Wednesday LEN announced the draw results for the first qualification round of the new and upcoming Champions League season. With multiple big player transfers already confirmed and perhaps still ahead of us, this year's top-tier European club competition will surely look different from last season's inaugural edition with the new system of wild cards and a Final Six tournament. Late September, two groups of six teams on two locations will battle to advance to the second qualification round where some of Europe's top sides will join them. In Marseille, France the strengthened home side will face fierce opposition from Italy's Posillipo, Hungary's OSC which also boosted its team by a group of top domestic and foreign players while Euro Cup winners Spartak Volgograd and Georgian champion Ligamus Tbilisi complete group A.

In Herceg Novi, Montenegro the home team, defending national champion and cup holder, who today presented their major signing this summer in Boris Zlokovic, will face five other sides to play for the top 5 positions which will allow them to advance. Last year's Euro Cup runners-up Mladost Zagreb are amongst the favorites to hold on for the second qualification round while also French champions Montpellier, Russian runners-up Sintez Kazan and Romanian champions CSM Oradea will surely count to remain in the tournament which ultimately should end in playing the 10-round preliminary phase. Outsiders Waspo Hanover from Germany, with one of multiple additions Predrag Jokic in the line-up, will try their best for an upset to join the five teams that will continue their Champions League journey out of group B.

LEN Champions League 2014-2015

Qualification round 1
26-28 September, 2014

Group A (to be played in Marseille, France)

VK Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)
C.N. Posillipo (ITA)
Orvosegyetem Sport Club (OSC) Budapest (HUN)
Spartak Volgograd (RUS)
C.N. Marseille (FRA)
Ligamus Tbilisi (GEO)

Group B (to be played in Herceg Novi, Montenegro)

HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO)
Waspo Hanover (GER)
CSM Digi Oradea (ROU)
Montpellier Waterpolo (FRA)
Sintez Kazan (RUS)
Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE)

*top 5 teams of each group advance to qualification round 2. Teams finishing 6th continue in Euro Cup qualification.
Directly qualified for qualification round 2

- Primorje EB Rijeka (CRO)
- ASC Duisburg (GER)
- Szolnok (HUN)
- Pro Recco (ITA)
- Crvena zvezda (Red Star) Belgrade (SRB)
- Yumze Istanbul (TUR)

These clubs will form four groups of four and will have round robin tournaments at four host cities on 17-19 October. Top 2 of these groups advance to play-off qualification round 3.

Wild card teams (directly qualified for preliminary round)

- Jug Dubrovnik (CRO)
- C.N. Atletic-Barceloneta (ESP)
- Wasserfreunde Spandau Berlin (GER)
- Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
- ZF-Eger (HUN)
- AN Brescia (ITA)
- VK Partizan Raiffeisen Belgrade (SRB)
- Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR)

Season dates

Qualification Round 1

26-28 September, 2014

Qualification Round 2
17-19 October, 2014

Qualification Round 3

29 October, 2014 (leg 1)
12 November, 2014 (leg 2)

Preliminary Round

29 November, 2014
17 December, 2014
14 January, 2015
28 January, 2015
11 February, 2015
4 March, 2015
25 March, 2015
8 April, 2015
18 April, 2015
2 May, 2015

Champions League Final Six

28-30 May, 2015
Barcelona (ESP).

As for the other actions, the men’s Euro Cup qualifications – also including teams ranked 3rd in the Champions League Qualification Round II – will start on 31 October (the draw will be conducted on 21 October).

In the women’s field teams entering the Euro League will hit the stage in 16-18 January 2015, though the draw will be known on 12 September already.

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