Courtesy: LEN Media
After the conclusion of the men’s qualifications for the 2020 European Water Polo Championships, the same field awaits the draw as in 2018. Among the women one change looks sure as Slovakia thrashed Turkey in the first leg and Romania kept a slim chance to join too after a surprise win over the Germany.
Men’s qualifications (top two ranked qualified)
Group A (Tbilisi): 1. Georgia, 2. Germany, 3. Switzerland. Group B (Novaky): 1. Slovakia, 2. France, 3. Belarus, 4. Ukraine. Group C (Malta): 1. Romania, 2. Malta, 3. Portugal. Group D (Utrecht): 1. Turkey 4 (32-15), 2. Netherlands 4 (29-12), 3. Lithuania 0.
Women’s qualifications, 1st leg
Israel v Switzerland 13-6, Portugal v Croatia 13-14, Czech Republic v Serbia 6-25, France v Ukraine 20-1, Romania v Germany 14-13, Slovakia v Turkey 19-9. Second leg: 26 October
No changing of the old guard in the men’s field as the eight teams from the 2018 edition retained their respective places at the 2020 Europeans in the qualification tournaments held in the weekend. Among the challengers Portugal got the closest for an upset as they reduced the gap in their match against Malta to two goals twice in the second half but could never come closer and the host side prevailed at the end.
Apart from this, all four groups witnessed one-sided contests between the favorites and underdogs. In the clashes of the stronger teams Georgia’s win over Germany, Slovakia’s fine win against France and the tie between the Netherlands and Turkey might be worth mentioning though these matches were more about prestige.
The women’s play-offs offered more thrills and surprises. Romania, seeking its first ever appearance on the big stage, built a 13-10 lead with 6:08 to go after being 6-8 down at halftime against the Germans. The visitors bounced back though, netted three in 2:20 minutes before the Romanians scored the winner to keep some hope for the return leg.
Croatia also had some headaches in Portugal, they had to dig deep as the hosts led at halftime and even though the Croats took a three-goal lead with 1:36 remaining, the home side scored twice in the last 70 seconds so the return leg might see some tension too.
Two years ago Slovakia bowed out in two thrilling matches against Turkey – this time they didn’t let it go and decided the duel right in the first leg by thrashing their rivals by ten goals. It means that Slovakia is to join the nations with two teams at the Europeans – for the first time in history.
The other three encounters also ended in decisive wins so Israel, France and Serbia are also on their way to Budapest.
The draw for the European Championships will be held on 22 October in the Hungarian capital from 18.00 CET – a free live streaming will be available on the LEN website.
Teams qualified for the men’s tournament:
Serbia, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Montenegro, Russia, Hungary, Georgia, Slovakia, Romania, Turkey, Germany, France, Malta, Netherlands
Teams already qualified for the women’s tournament (ranked 1-6th in 2018):
Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Russia
For detailed stats and play-by-play, visit our dedicated website.