mercoledì 24 settembre 2014

LEN Champions League 2014-2015 Qualification round 1


Eager to kick off a new club season and European international campaign two groups of six teams each will start their quest for the Champions League Final Six on Thursday with the start of the qualification first round in Marseille, France and Herceg Novi, Montenegro respectively. For most sides this weekend of quality matches will mainly serve as welcome first test ahead of the much more tougher second round when some of Europe's top sides join in. As five of the six competitors of each group will advance to the second round, while the 6th placed team continues in the Euro Cup tournament, thrilling excitement is not yet expected in southern France and Montenegro. But with several teams in action that have high hopes of at least make it to the preliminary stage, the upcoming first round matches will give them a good look to where they stand. There is Marseille, host of group A and severely strengthened this summer as leftie Ugo Crousillat was welcomed back while also USA centre forward John Mann (Red Star), Aussie Shark Tyler Martin (FTC, Hungary) and French international Enzo Khasz who came over from domest rivals Olympic Nice, made the switch. And then some of last year's Euro Cup top 4 sides in semi-finalists Posillipo and convincing cup winners and Russian champions Spartak Volgograd are present. Another serious contender will be OSC Budapest who stunned Hungary by virtually building a new team, boosted by sponsor A-Hid, this summer as they acquired a total of 6 players from Hungarian champions ZF-Eger while also adding Montenegrin veteran Drasko Brguljan to the roster. And what will Serbia's Radnicki be capable of doing? The 2012 dominant Euro Cup winners are without some of their top players as Filip Filipovic (Pro Recco), Damir Buric (Primorje) and Boris Zlokovic (Jadran Herceg Novi) all left but still hold a respectable squad and presented some useful additions which included Marko Petkovic who left European champions and Final Six hosts Barceloneta and one of Partizan's best allround players last year: Nikola Dedovic.
 Here Georgian champs Ligamus Tbilisi look to be the team on paper who will experience a difficult round but could turn the tide by 1 upset victory.

But equal excitement in group B, hosted by Montenegro champions Jadran Herceg Novi who also celebrated the past summer in which the talented young squad, coached by former great Vladimir Gojkovic, got boosted as one the world's best centre forward Boris Zlokovic left Radnicki in Serbia to return to his home country and former club while also 2012 Olympian Dragan Draskovic joined the squad coming over from Acquachiara in Italy. How will they hold against some tough opposition in front of the home crowd over the weekend?
Opposition like Romanian champions and ever-tough contender CSM Digi Oradea, led by Serbian national team goalie Gojko Pijetlovic, Russian runners-up Sintez Kazan where centre-forward and Montenegro international Sasa Misic will return to the pool where he had worked out ahead of the 2014 European Championships so often. Another international returning 'home' will be Predrag Jokic who joined German contender Waspo Hannover this summer. Talented Mladost Zagreb will be among the definite favorites to advance as well as back-to-back France champions Montpellier. On paper the Germans seem to be the outsiders but can they surprise? One victory could enough to avoid last place and stay in the Champions League

26-28 September, 2014

Group A (to be played in Marseille, France)

Thursday, 25 September:

17.30: CN Posillipo (ITA) vs. Ligamus Tbilisi (GEO)
19.00: CN Marseille (FRA) vs. VK Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)
20.30: Spartak Volgograd (RUS) vs. OSC Budapest (HUN)

Friday, 26 September:

09.30: VK Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB) vs. OSC Budapest
11.00: CN Marseille (FRA) vs. Ligamus Tbilisi (GEO)
12.30: CN Posillipo (ITA) vs. Spartak Volgograd (RUS)

18.00: Ligamus Tbilisi (GEO) vs. VK Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)
19.30: CN Marseille (FRA) vs. Spartak Volgograd (RUS)
21.00: OSC Budapest (HUN) vs. CN Posillipo (ITA)

Saturday, 27 September:

17.30: OSC Budapest (HUN) vs. Ligamus Tbilisi (GEO)
19.00: CN Marseille (FRA) vs. CN Posillipo (ITA)
20.30: Spartak Volgograd (RUS) vs. VK Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)

Sunday, 28 September:

09.30: Ligamus Tbilisi (GEO) vs. Spartak Volgograd (RUS)
11.00: CN Posillipo (ITA) vs. VK Radnicki Kragujevac (SRB)
12.30: CN Marseille (FRA) vs. OSC Budapest (HUN)

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

Thursday, 25 September:

16.45: Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) vs. Montpellier Waterpolo (FRA)
18.30: HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) vs. Sintez Kazan (RUS)
20.15: Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) vs. CSM Digi Oradea (ROU)

Friday, 26 September:

09.00: CSM Digi Oradea (ROU) vs. Montpellier Waterpolo (FRA)
10.45: Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) vs. Sintez Kazan (RUS)
12.30: HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) vs. Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)

16.45: Sintez Kazan (RUS) vs. CSM Digi Oradea (ROU)
18.30: Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) vs. Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)
20.15: Montpellier Waterpolo (FRA) vs. HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO)

Saturday, 27 September:

16.45: Waspo 98 Hannover (GER) vs. Sintez Kazan (RUS)
18.00: HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO) vs. CSM Digi Oradea (ROU)
20.15: Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) vs. Montpellier Waterpolo (FRA)

Sunday, 28 September:
09.00: CSM Digi Oradea (ROU) vs. Waspo 98 Hannover (GER)
10.45: Sintez Kazan (RUS) vs. Montpellier Waterpolo (FRA)
12.30: Jadran Herceg Novi (MNE) vs. HAVK Mladost Zagreb (CRO)

*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 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).

The magnificent Skver pool in Herceg Novi (MNE).

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