Champions League

Champions League Preliminary Round draw: Szolnok and Pro Recco start race together

szolnok water polo players winners of the champions league
Szolnok, the 2016/17 Champions league winner Photo: waterpolo.hu/facebook

The draw for the preliminary round of the 2017/18 Champions league draw was held in Budapest today. Twelve teams that have “wild cards” were split into two groups. Besides them, four teams will compete in the preliminaries. Winners of four home-and-away duels in the third qualifying round will join wild-card holders.

Photo: print screen/len.eu (click to enlarge)

Group A

Jug (Croatia)
Olympiacos (Greece)
Barceloneta (Spain)
Partizan (Serbia)
Dynamo Moskow (Russia)
Waspo 89 Hannover (Germany)
Winner 3rd qualification round -Game B
Winner 3rd qualification round -Game C

Group B

Szolnok (Hungary)
Pro Recco (Italy)
Spandau 04 (Germany)
Olympic Nice (France)
AZC Alphen (The Netherlands)
Steaua Bucharest (Romania)
Winner 3rd qualification round -Game A
Winner 3rd qualification round -Game D

The Champions League will see 16 teams for the first time (in the former format of the CHL, launched 2013/14, twelve teams took part). Accordingly, the Final Eight will replace the Final Six. On Day 1 of the Final Eight, the usual quarter-final matches will be played (A1-B4, A2-B3, A3-B2, A4-B1). In the Final Six, group winners advanced to the semifinals directly.
Pro Recco is, as a host, automatically qualified for the Final Eight.

On first sight, Group A is much stronger. The current champion Szolnok and Pro Recco are obviously great favourites in Group B. But, the picture will be clearer after the third round of the qualification. Many strong teams will take part in the qualification. Four remaining places in the preliminaries will be filled by very quality teams for sure. On the other side, only three sports at F8 are available in Group A, because Pro Recco is already qualified.

Jug, Olympiacos, Barceloneta and newcomer Dynamo Moskow are favourites in Group B. Partizan has the even younger team than the previous season when Belgrade side was the youngest team in the Champions League. Hannover, the host of the Final Eight in 2019, doesn’t have a celebrated tradition, but the management of the club invests a lot in the team, so Hannover isn’t an outsider anymore.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SCHEDULE

25 October 2017: 1st match
8 November 2017: 2nd match
29 November 2017: 3rd match
9 December 2017: 4th match
20 December 2017: 5th match
13 January 2018: 6th match
24 January 2018: 7th match
7 February 2018: 8th match
28 February 2018: 9th match
14 March 2018: 10th match
31 March 2018: 11th match
18 April 2018: 12th match
28 April 2018: 13th match
9 May 2018: 14th match

Champions League “FINAL SIX”:
Genova 7 – 9 June 2018

More about qualifications: HERE

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