The draw for the 33rd European Championships (Barcelona, 14 – 28 July) was held in Barcelona today.
16 men’s and 12 women’s teams were in the “pots” for the draw.
Men’s squads were split in four groups of four.
Title-holder and Olympic champion Serbia shouldn’t have big challanges in the preliminary phase. The Serbs (3rd at 2017 World Championships) will play against Russia, Slovakia and Romania.
Other groups will see a few big derbies
World champion Croatia will face Greece, that took the 4th place at 2016 Championships in Belgrade as well as at 2017 World Championships in Budapest. Besides these two teams in the group will compete Turkey and the Netherlands.
Group A will be the toughest, with no doubt. Hungary (the bronze medal winner in Belgrade 2016 and the 2nd-placed at last season’s World Championships) and Italy, the third-placed at 2016 Olympics should fight for the first place. Germany always can make problems to favorites. The only outsider is Georgia, but nothing is impossible.
Host Spain will play in Group B, against 2016 runnner-up Montenegro, France and Malta.
After the preliminary competition, group winners will qualify directly to the quarter-finals while the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams will play crossover matches in the eight-finals. The last-placed teams will compete for the places 13-16th.
Women were drawn in two groups of six.
Host and 2017 World championships silver medalist Spain was drawn in Group B, along with current title-holder Hungary, Russia (that took the bronze medals at two previous major competitions – 2017 World Championships and 2016 Olympic Games), Germany, Serbia and Turkey.
The Netherlands, the runner-up in Belgrade 2016, Italy (2nd at 2016 Olympics and 3rd at 2016 European Championships), Greece, Croatia, France and newcomer Israel will play in Group A.
The top four sides from both groups will advance to the quarter-finals, the other teams play for the places 9-12th.
“Pots” for the draw
Before the draw, the batches were sorted according the ranking at the 32nd European Championships in Belgrade 2016.
Batch 1: Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary, Greece.
Batch 2: Spain, Italy, Croatia, Russia.
Batch 3: France, Georgia, Germany, Malta, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey
Batch 1: Hungary, Netherlands.
Batch 2: Italy, Spain.
Batch 3: Greece, Russia.
Batch 4: Croatia, France, Germany, Israel, Serbia, Turkey