The new season of the LEN Water polo Champions League begins this weekend in three cities. The tournaments of the Qualification round 1 will be held in Banja Luka (Bosna and Herzegovina), Tel Aviv (Israel) and Strasbourg (France). Thirteen teams are taking part in this round. They are seeking six cards to continue their voyages through the European club competitions. The top two ranked teams from each group will advance to the next round.
Two former champions on the stage
Several very good teams with rich histories will compete in the first round. Fans in Group A in Banja Luka will see OSC (Hungary), that was a champion of Europe two times (in 1973 and n 1979), and Sintez (Russia), which won the 2007 Euro Cup.
The favourites in Group B in Strasbourg are Canottieri (Italy), the 1978 Champions Cup winner, and Jadran, the best club in the history of the water polo in Montenegro. Jadran reached the semi-finals of the 2017 Euro cup.
ASA Tel Aviv, which is as well as Banja Luka, the debutant at the European stage, will host Mornar Split, the semi-finalist in the 2015 and in 2016 Euro cup.
Competition in Group A will start this evening because five teams will compete in Banja Luka. The first matches in Strasbourg and in Tel Aviv will be played tomorrow.
36 clubs in total will participate in this season Champions League. Eleven will start from the Qualification Round 2, while 12 sides have „wild cards“, that secure places in the Preliminaries. For the first time, 16 clubs will participate in the Preliminary Round (12 sides played in previous seasons). The novelty is also that eight teams will participate at the final tournament (Final Six is replaced by Final Eight).
Szolnok (Hungary) defends the title.
Calendar and participants in the 2017/18 Champions League
Qualification, Round 1
Group A (Banja Luka, 14 – 17 September )
OSC Budapest (Hungary), CN Terrassa (Spain), Sintez Kazan (Russia), VK Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina), CF Portuense (Portugal)
Group B (Strasbourg, 15 – 17 September )
Canottieri Napoli (Italy), Strasbourg ASPTT (France), ENKA Istanbul (Turkey), Jadran Herceg Novi (Montenegro)
Group C (Tel Aviv, 15 – 17 September)
Mornar Split (Croatia), ANK Glyfada (Greece), Galatasaray Istanbul (Turkey), ASA Tel-Aviv (Israel)
Qualification Round 2 (29 September-1 October 2017)
Participants: Mladost Zagreb (Croatia), CN Marseille (France), ASC Duisburg (Germany), Vouliagmeni NC (Greece), ZF Eger (Hungary), AN Brescia (Italy), UZSC Utrecht (The Netherlands), CSM Oradea (Romania), Spartak Volgograd (Russia), Vojvodina Novi Sad (Serbia), CN Sabadell (Spain) and six clubs from the Qualification Round 2. Seventeen clubs will be split into four groups.
Qualification Round 3 (14 and 18 October 2017)
Group winners and second placed teams from the groups of Round 2 will meet in four home-and-away duels. The winners will advance to the Preliminary Round
Preliminaries (14 rounds, 25 October 2017 – 9 May 2018)
Dynamo Moskow (Russia)
Waspo 89 Hannover (Germany)
Winner 3rd qualification round -Game B
Winner 3rd qualification round -Game C
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 top four teams from both groups will advance to the Final Eight (Genova, 7 – 9 June 2018). Pro Recco is as a technical host automatically qualified for the Final Eight.