Orizzonte fails to pass the qualifications Two teams from Russia, Hungary and Spain respectively and one from Italy and Greece apiece advanced to the quarter-finals. 2019 Super Cup winner and 8-time champion Orizzonte is the big casualty of the qualification round.
Group A (Budapest): 1. UVSE Hunguest Hotels (HUN) 10, 2. Dynamo Uralochka (RUS) 9, 3. Ekipe Orizzonte (ITA) 7, 4. Lille UC (FRA) 3, 5. CN Sant Andreu (ESP) 0
Group B (Verona): 1. Kinef Surgutneftegas Kirishi (RUS) 12, 2. CN Mataro (ESP) 9, 3. FTC-Telekom (HUN) 6, 4. CE Mediterrani (ESP) 3, 5. Vetrocar Verona (ITA) 0
Group C (Roma): 1. Lifebrain SIS Roma (ITA) 10, 2. Olympiacos Pireaeus (GRE) 9, 3. Plebiscito Padova (ITA) 6, 4. BVSC-Zuglo (HUN) 3. Olympique Nice DSQ.
Group D (Verona): 1. Astralpool Sabadell (ESP) 4, 2. Dunaujvarosi Foiskola (HUN) 3, 3. Vouliagmeni (GRE) 1 First two seeded teams qualified.
Orizzonte did not survive the qualifications – the Italian giant could climb back from 6-8 down to save its game to a draw against host UVSE Budapest (HUN) but then lost to Uralochka (RUS), thanks to a brilliant first half (7-2) by the Russians. UVSE finished atop in Group A as the Hungarians staged an incredible finish against Uralochka by producing a 5-0 rush in the last six minutes to win this epic match 16-14, after being 11-14 down.
The other Russian side Kinef was the only one in the weekend, which could win all four matches. The 2016 and 2017 champion had a couple of tough battles in Group B but clinched victories against Mataro (ESP) and Ferencvaros (HUN) – in the latter game the Russian winner came 34 seconds from time (15-14). Mataro claimed the second qualifying spot as they earned a fine 13-9 win over the Hungarians.
Two single-goal wins and a draw put host Roma (ITA) through in Group C, while 2019 runner-up Olympiacos (GRE) could beat the other Italian Padova 10-7 to make the cut as well. Here Olympique Nice was disqualified before the start as the French seriously breached the relevant LEN rules applied for a bubble tournament (after the mandatory PCR tests they played a training game against a non-tested Italian side, shortly before trying to enter the bubble).
After a withdraw only three teams remained in Group D – the title-holder from 2019 Sabadell (ESP) beat 2018 Super Cup winner Dunaujvaros and drew with Vouliagmeni (GRE) to finish atop. The Hungarians then edged out the Greeks 11-9 to join the top flight once more.
The draw was made in Verona, site of the Group B and D matches – the highlight of the quarter-finals is surely the clash of Sabadell and Olympiacos, the rematch of the 2019 final.
Draw for the quarter-finals – Dates: 27 February and 13 March For detailed results HERE