Among an amazing series of happenings, all four groups in the prelims produced the same outcome: teams representing the same respective nations qualified for the quarter-finals. Two Russians from Group A, two Hungarians from Group B, two Greeks from Group C and two Spanish from Group D. This also created some history: for the first time ever, Italian clubs failed to reach the best eight. Italy’s brightest hope, Plebiscito Padova, runner-up in last year’s LEN Trophy was close to go through in Group C but in the decisive match they lost 5-6 to Vouliagmeni. Earlier they drew with title-holder Olympiacos so they were on equal terms with the Greeks but at the end missed the cut.

In Group B Spartak (RUS) was also on the verge to upset the Hungarian march at Budapest but after a draw against Szentes the goal-difference decided the final ranks and that favoured the Hungarians (the No. 1. Magyar side, UVSE Budapest clinched the top spot here).

The other two groups saw clear wins: in Group A Kinef (RUS) and Uralochka (RUS) were the outstanding sides undoubtedly, the latter one downed Sant Andreu (ESP) 20-14 in the match played for the second place. In Group D former trophy-winner Sabadell enjoyed an easy cruise while fellow Spanish side Mataro beat Messina (ITA) 10-6 in the decisive encounter.

The draw has already been conducted on Monday in Nyon, at the LEN Office and the second half of February will witness mouthwatering quarters, a kind of national tests, too. The two Hungarian sides face the Spaniards while in the other two matches the Greeks will clash the Russians. Winners will play for the Euro League title while the losers will meet in the LEN Trophy Final Four tournament. Euro League, Preliminaries – Classifications

Group A

1. Kinef Surgutneftegas Kirishi (RUS) 9, 2. Uralochka (RUS) 6, 3. Sant Andreu (ESP) 3, 4. Bayer Uerdingen (GER) 0

Group B

1. UVSE Budapest (HUN) 9, 2. Hungerit-Szentes (HUN) 4 (40-28), 3. Spartak Volgograd (RUS) 4 (39-30), 4. Crvena Zvezda (SRB) 0

Group C

1. Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE) 10, 2. Vouliagmeni (GRE) 9, 3. Plebiscito Padova (ITA) 7, 4. CF Portuense (POR) 3, 5. Otter (GBR) 0

Group D

1. CN Sabadell (ESP) 9, 2. CN Mataro (ESP) 6, 3. Despar Messina (ITA) 3, 4. Lille Universite (FRA) 0

Draw, Quarter-finals

A: Olympiacos (GRE) v Uralochka (RUS)

B: Sabadell (ESP) v Szentes (HUN)

C: Mataro (ESP) v UVSE (HUN)

D: Vouliagmeni (GRE) v Kirishi (RUS)

First leg: 17 February – Return leg: 27 February

In both F4 tournaments teams playing in QFs A and B will meet in the semis, just as teams playing in QFs C and D.


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