Meet the groups – Group B (division 1)

GREECE

Greece has been experiencing a water polo boom for the past few years, culminating in the 2021. Tokyo Olympics (officially 2020.) when they won a silver medal, their biggest success to date at the senior level. Until then, the best at the Olympics were in Athens, 2004. (4th place). The Tokyo silver is just a continuation, a somewhat logical consequence of the great results in the younger age groups in which Greece won two junior world championship titles in recent years. These young men have matured, and with the experience and indisputable quality of their older colleagues, Greece today has an exceptionally strong national team that goes alongside the strongest teams in the world. In recent years, they have been regular candidates for a medal, so it is certain that it should be expected now.

The Greek “dance” around Europe or appearances at european championships only, started in Barcelona 1970., where they finished at 10th place. Since 1991., when they organized the European Championship in Athens and were placed sensationally high for those times, 6th place, they are constantly in the top 10 teams. The only exception was the competition in Malaga 2008., when Greece was at 11th place.

In addition to the aforementioned greatest success, the olympic silver in Tokyo, Greece is very successful at the world championships, where it has won three bronze medals so far. Interestingly, even two against Croatia. The first time was in Montreal in 2005., when they won the medal with a victory in extra-time (11:10), and the second time in Budapest 2022., when Greece was again better than Croatia (9:7). Kazan 2015. “settled” in between. The Greeks were also third there. By the way, even then they almost made the Croats bitter because they lost the semi-final against Croatia, only by penalty shoot-out.

HUNGARY

Water polo giants! These are the Hungarians in this sport. Hungary is the most successful water polo nation in the history of european championships. They have as many as 13 gold medals, 7 silver and 6 bronze medals. It means that Hungary on 35 european championships so far, have as many as 26 medals!

Their capital city, Budapest, even hosted European Championships for 5 times. From the first edition in 1926. until 2020. Water polo is the national sport in this country, and the players and coaches are extremely popular and famous.

They won gold in Europe – in 1926., 1927., 1931., 1934., 1938., 1954., 1958., 1962., 1974., 1977., 1997., 1999. and 2020. Not a single national team, except Hungary, did not won the title of European champion for 5 times in a row (1926. – 1938.). In fact, out of the first 10 championships, the Hungarians won gold in 8 of them!

But there are other medals from the continental championships – 7 silver (1970., 1983., 1993., 1995., 2006., 2014. and 2022.) and 6 bronze (1981., 2001., 2003., 2008., 2012. and 2016.). Hungary did not perform at only one EWPC, in Vienna 1950. (political reasons).

In the history of olympic tournaments, there is also no more successful nation than the Hungary with as many as 9 golds (Los Angeles 1932., Berlin 1936., Helsinki 1952., Melbourne 1956., Tokyo 1964., Montreal 1976., Sydney 2000., Athens 2004. and Beijing 2008.). Three consecutive olympic gold medals (2000. – 2008.) are particularly impressive. They have also 3 olympic silver medals (Amsterdam 1928., London 1948. and Münich 1972.) and 4 bronze medals (Rome 1960., Ciudad de Mexico 1968., Moscow 1980. and Tokyo 2021.).

At the world championships, Hungary can boast of 4 championship titles (Belgrade 1973., Barcelona 2003., Barcelona 2013. and Fukuoka 2023) along with 7 more silver and one bronze medal.

Hungary is coming to Croatia as the current world champion. That fact spoken just enough.

ITALY

A country with rich water polo tradition and history, a strong national team, but also famous, big, powerful clubs that are home to top water polo players. Italy in water polo also means several dozen olympic winners and world champions, members of the International Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale (USA) etc.

Italy is also one of the “veterans” of appearing or performing at continental championships.

Italy first appeared at the European Water Polo Championship at 1938. in London. It was then the 5th EWPC. Therefore, the performance in Croatia in 2024. will be the 31st tournament of the best in Europe at which Settebello (Seven Beautiful) performs. Settebello is nickname Italians give to their water polo players. It was created after winning olympic gold in Rome, 1960.

Italy was European Champion three times – 1947. in Monte Carlo, 1993 in Sheffield and 1995. in Vienna. Legendary Croatian coach Ratko Rudić led them to the last two european gold medals.

Italy won silver twice – in Budapest 2001. and in Zagreb 2010., and they have even 6 bronze medals – 1954. in Turin, 1977. in Jönköping, 1987. in Strasbourg, 1989. in Bonn, 1999. in Florence, and 2014. in Budapest.

At the Olympic Games, Settebello reached Olympus three times, and all three times in Europe (1948. in London, 1960 .in Rome and 1992. in Barcelona). From the Olympics, Italians have 2 more silvers and 3 bronze medals.

At the world championships, they went the farthest, to gold – 1978. in West Berlin, 1994. in Rome, 2011. in Shanghai and 2019. in Gwangju. They have three more silvers (1986., 2003. and 2022.) and one bronze (1975.) from the world championships.

Since Alessandro Campagna took over as Italy coach for the second time, 14 years ago, Italy has very often been a participant in at least the semi-finals. From the European Championship in Zagreb in 2010. to the World Championships in Fukuoka 2023., in 24 competitions (world and european championships, as well as the olympics), Italy reached at least semi-finals on 19 occasions!

GEORGIA

Only at first glance, a small or, in terms of water polo, an “exotic” country. Water polo has a history and tradition in Georgia. During the time when that country was part of the Soviet Union, which was an extremely influential and strong water polo team, some of the best players were Georgians. From Mihail Giorgadze to especially Georgi Mshvenieradze, who in his time was one of the best players in the world. After all, they even won the title of European Champion three times in a row (1983., 1985. and 1987). Of course, under the flag of the then USSR.

One of the most famous and best Georgian water polo players is certainly, center Revaz Chomakhidze, who played for a long time in clubs in Italy and Croatia. After career as a player, he started a coaching career in Dinamo Tbilisi, as well as leading the Georgian national team.

Dinamo Tbilisi is almoust Georgian national team, which also has several naturalized players in its team. Dinamo Tbilisi plays in Champions League, and two years ago they have achieved first two victories.

The performance in Croatia, at the 2024. European Championship, is the sixth time that Georgia has appeared in such competitions. They made their debut in Budapest in 2014. (12th place), followed by appearances at the Championships in Belgrade 2016. (14th place), then in Barcelona 2018. (13th place), as well as in Budapest 2020. (14th place ), in order to achieve their greatest success so far in Split 2022.. In the Spaladium Arena, Georgia won 8th place and thus entered the first strong class of European water polo or Division I.