A crucial weekend is coming
Sixteen teams start the hunt today but only eight will survive this round to play for the four Champions League berths in the third. Action kicks off in the Euro Cup too – here the field shall also be halved to eight teams after three days.
There are strong favourites in the battlefield, like frequent F8 participant Brescia (ITA), playing in Group C. Then OSC Budapest (HUN), which hosts Group D matches and last season’s main round contender Jadran Split (CRO) in Group F.
Besides them, almost each other side has a fine if not equal chance to make the cut this weekend. In Oradea the host Romanians and Spain’s CN Barcelona, winner of Group A in the first round might have a showdown for the second place, provided Brescia plays on its usual level.
OSC Budapest, semi-finalist in the Euro Cup last season and having played in the Champions League for two seasons earlier, is about to chase a Final Eight spot in the coming months though the beginning of their quest looks tough with two Russians in Group D. Dynamo, definitely weaker than last year, and Sintez, which had a good run in Group B in the first round, will clash each other on the opening day, while OSC will face the other OSC from Germany.
There is no clear favourite in Group E, perhaps Terrassa (ESP) will have some home advantage, but Sabac (SRB) and Steaua (ROU), coming from the first round will also have a shot at the top two qualifying spots just as Strasbourg (FRA).
Belgrade will see a mouth-watering Serbian-Croatian duel, though Jadran, claiming 18 points last season in the prelims, looks too strong for host Zvezda. Vouliagmeni, the second best Greek team shall cause some headaches for the host Serbs just as Pays D’Aix from France.
In the Euro Cup the first round of the qualifications also takes place in the following three days. Based on the rosters, the two Hungarian participants Eger and Miskolc look quite strong but the Spaniards (Mataro and Mediterrani), Italy’s Posillipo and Ortigia and the two Croatians (Mornar and Sibenik) will also be on track to go for the trophy (though the four losing teams to come from the third qualification round in the Champions League will also have a word or two).
Champions League, Qualification Round II
Group C (Oradea)
CN Barcelona (ESP), AN Brescia (ITA), Lokomotiv Tbilisi (GEO), DiGi Oradea (ROU)
Group D (Budapest)
Dynamo Moscow (RUS), OSC Budapest (HUN), OSC Potsdam (GER), Sintez Kazan (RUS)
Group E (Terrassa)
VK Sabac (SRB), Steaua Bucharest (ROU), Team Strasbourg (FRA), CN Terrassa (ESP)
Group F (Belgrade)
Pays D’Aix Natation (FRA), Crvena Zvezda (SRB), Jadran Split (CRO), NC Vouliagmeni (GRE)
Euro Cup, Qualification Round I
Group A (Split)
AZSC Antwerp (BEL), CN Mataro (ESP), CE Mediterrani (ESP), Mornar Brodospas (CRO)
Group B (Eger)
ZF Eger (HUN), VK Radnicki (SRB), Shturm 2002 Ruza (RUS), Solaris Sibenik (CRO)
Group C (Valletta)
CN Noisy Le Sec (FRA), MVLC Miskolc (HUN), CN Posillipo Napoli (ITA), Valletta (MLT)
Group D (Siracusa)
Apoel Larnaca (CYP), Montpellier WP (FRA), CC Ortigia (ITA), Partizan Belgrade (SRB)
The draw for the following rounds in both competitions will be held on Tuesday in the LEN Office in Nyon.