Start of a new, thrilling competition
LEN’s brand new competition for national teams, the Europa Cup kicks off on Thursday with the women’s preliminaries. The continent’s best sides all lined up to play for the historical first title and for the pot of €80,000 offered as prize money. Since winning the respective groups means an automatic berth in the semis of the Super Final, the prelims already promise thrilling battles in host cities of Oosterhout (NED) and Volos (GRE).
Volos – Greece
Oosterhout – Nethelands
2016 European runner-up Netherlands, 2017 World Championships silver medallist Spain and 2017 World Championships bronze medallist Russia at one pool, European champion Hungary, Olympic silver medallist Italy and 2011 World champion Greece in the other venue – the top six European powerhouses of women’s water polo will surely produce some thrilling clashes in the coming days.
Oosterhout (NED) and Volos (GRE) will be the historical sites for the first Europa Cup matches from Thursday to Sunday. And the prelims already promise great excitements as the top spot in both groups secures direct qualification for the semis in the Super Final – a real advantage in this playing format.
Predicting the outcome has never been harder since these teams are on equal terms anytime, anywhere – in fact this has made women’s water polo more and more fans’ hot favourite in recent years. Similar ranks are quite rare at the major tournaments (barring the USA which usually finishes atop), the European sides never finish changing positions. Though there is a gap between the best ones and the others, France, Croatia, Germany and Israel will find it difficult to stay close in the respective matches, still, Europa Cup serves as another great occasion for these teams to gain experience.
LEN offers free live streaming from both venues from all matches on the LEN website where the detailed schedules, results and stats are also available.
The women’s Super Final will be held on 23-25 March, while the men’s tournament preliminaries are due on 15-18 February and their Super Final is scheduled for 5-8 April. The respective winners shall receive €20,000, runners-up get €15,000 and the bronze medal pays €5,000 in the both events so the total amount of the prize money on offer is €80,000.
Europa Cup, Women’s prelims
Group A (Oosterhout)
Netherlands, Spain, Russia, France, Croatia
Group B (Volos)
Hungary, Italy, Greece, Germany, Israel
The first three ranked sides from each group will advance to the Super Final. Top ranked teams will qualify directly to the semifinals.