This weekend the Euro Cup tournament gets underway. None of the semifinalists of last year (Brescia, Sintez Kazan, Szeged and Mornar) are present this season where a new-look tournament is sure to produce a new winner. With group B in Split expected to be won by title contenders FTC Budapest, (while Germany’s Bayer Uerdingen and home side POSK to battle for the precious 2nd spot) other groups can produce interesting races for the 2nd round places. Debutants Pays D’Aix host group A in Aix-en-Provence, France but will have a hard time holding off Croatia’s experienced side of Mladost, led by Luka Bukic, Fran Paskvalin and Frano Vican, French title contenders Montpellier and young outsiders Shturm 2002.
In group C, played in Kosice, the ambitious Slovakian home team of Hornets Kosice host an interesting group consisting of favourites Canottieri Napoli, led by Alex Giorgetti, Alessandro Velotto and Fabio Baraldi, Montenegro’s Primorac Kotor, a young squad that got help from veteran Antonio Petrovic who returned home after a successful career abroad to help the young guys from the club with whom he won the 2009 Euro League, and finally outsiders BVSC, coached by Hungarian former great Tamas Marcz. With CC Napoli regarded favourites the battle for 2nd place might be a close, but will surely be an interesting one.
Group D is headlined by Posillipo. The squad outlined its ambition last summer by adding Serbian shooter Gavril Subotic and the Greek pair of outstanding driver and shooter Angelos Vlachopoulos and defender Georgios Dervisis to the roster, is aiming for more Euro Cup success after winning the trophy in the 2014-2015 season. The experienced team will have to deal with outsiders Kinef Kirishi, Germany’s newcomers Potsdam and Spain’s Terrassa, led by internationals goalie Iñaki Aguilar and Ricard Alarcon. The team already played the first league match last Tuesday where reigning champions Barceloneta proved too strong 8-4. The Spaniards will have a decent chance to join Posillipo in advancing to the second round but will have to come out prepared for the opening match, on Friday versus Kirishi. A win over the Russians is likely to be vital for any 2nd-round aspirations.
Euro Cup 2016-2017
Qualification Round 1
October 14-16, 2016
First two seeded teams from each group will go through.
Qualification Round 2: October 28-30, 2016.