Title-holder Hungary and Olympic champion Serbia clash already in the prelims, while host Croatia takes on Olympic silver medallist Greece in the group stage of the men’s tournament – just to highlight a couple of the outstanding clashes the draw for the 2022 European Water Polo Championships set up this evening in Split.
The draw took place amidst spectacular settings, at Diocletian’s Place in the old town of Split, the host city of the 2022 European Water Polo Championships. 1800 years after the palace was built, the continent – the aquatics family for sure – set its eyes on the former Roman emperors’ magnificent fortress once more.
The Europeans are set to return to Croatia for the third time: in 1983 the water polo competition was part of the ‘big Europeans’ held in Split, while in 2010 Zagreb hosted the event. At the end of the summer, Europe’s best national teams will play in the mighty Spaladium Arena, the multisport-venue constructed in 2008 to host the men’s handball World Championships and it has been site for a series of major sport events and concerts ever since. It can accommodate more than 10,000 fans so the players can get ready for some noise.
Before the draw, LEN First Vice-President Josip Varvodic, Croatian WP Federation President Mladen Drnasin and the legendary goalie, Olympic and world champion Josip Pavic – also member of the golden Croatian side in Zagreb 2010 – welcomed the audience, then LEN TWPC Chair Angel Moliner and LEN Operation Manager Marco Birri took the stage to conduct the draw.
Josip Pavic rejoined them in the company of a Croatian handball legend, Olympic and world champion Petar Metlicic, two-time Olympic champion water polo legend Deni Lusic and Olympic medallist high-jumper Blanka Vasic to pick the balls from the pots which were somewhat reshuffled after the Russian teams were banned from both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
As for the outcome of the draw, the highlight of the men’s tournament’s prelims is definitely the clash of Olympic champion Serbia and title-holder Hungary, just as the battle of world champion Italy and Montenegro, and host Croatia has also a tough challenge while facing Olympic silver medallist Greece. The upcoming French team may also give these two a tough time, while newcomer Israel is to see some hard moments against the Serbs and the Hungarians. 2020 runner-up Spain might have an easier run but the fight for the other ranks shall be exciting among Romania, Netherlands and Germany.
In the women’s competition the Mediterranean derby of Italy and Spain offer a mouth-watering match-up – just like previously in Budapest. In the other group Hungary and the Netherlands are to replay the bronze medal game of the previous edition. Greece is also in this group to face the Magyars once more after 2020.
The championships kick off on 27 August, the women’s final is on 9 September, while the men’s title is to be decided on 10 September.
Group A: Hungary, Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Croatia, Romania
Group B: Spain, Italy, France, Serbia, Israel, Slovakia
Group A: Montenegro, Italy, Georgia, Slovakia
Group B: Croatia, Greece, France, Malta
Group C: Spain, Romania, Netherlands, Germany
Group D: Hungary, Serbia, Israel, Slovenia
The schedule shall be released after consultations of the TV broadcasters.