Meet the groups – Group C (division 2)

SERBIA

Another european and world water polo superpower, although it has existed as an independent state under its current name only since 2006. Serbian water polo has an immeasurably longer and above all, successful history. Just as in the case of Croatia and Montenegro, Serbian water polo players made their contribution to the great victories and winning trophies of the team under the name SFR Yugoslavia, until 1991. and dissolution of that country. That country was triple olympic winner (Ciudad de Mexico 1968., Los Angles 1984. and Seoul 1988.), as well as two world championship titles (Madrid 1986. and Perth 1991.). Gold in Perth was also the last medal which was jointly won by Serbian, Croatian and Montenegrin water polo players under the name of Yugoslavia.

The end of former Yugoslavia, however, did not mean the end of water polo successes in these part of Europe, and thus not even in Serbia. In the 21st century, Serbia won as many as 26 gold medals! At the European championships, Serbia (then still under the name of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) appeared for the first time in Seville in 1997. At these competitions, they won as many as even 7 championship titles (Budapest 2001., Kranj 2003., Belgrade 2006., Eindhoven 2012., Budapest 2014., Belgrade 2016. and Barcelona 2018.).

Serbia won european silver twice (Sevilla 1997. and Malaga 2008.), while they hung the bronze around their neck once (Zagreb 2010.). Since 1997., Serbia has not won a medal at the European Championships only three time – in Florence 1999., Budapest 2020. and in Split 2022.

They were the best at the World Championships 4 times (Montreal 2005., under the name of Serbia and Montenegro, and in Rome 2009., Barcelona 2013. and Kazan 2015.). They won silver 2 times (Fukuoka 2001. under the name of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in Shanghai 2011a), as well as 3 bronze medals (Perth 1998. under the name of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, than in Barcelona 2003. as Serbia and Montenegro, and in Budapest 2017.).

Serbia achieved their greatest water polo success at the Olympic Games, whith 2 golds (Rio de Janeiro 2016. and Tokyo 2020.), silver (Athens 2004.) and 2 bronze medals (Sydney 2000. and Beijing 2008.).

GERMANY

Germany is the pioneer of european water polo championships. Namely, at the 1st European Championship in Budapest 1926., only 4 national teams participated. One of those four was Germany, along with Hungary, Belgium and Sweden. There are very few european championships where there were no Germans, for example in 1927., 1947., 1950. and 1962.

With such a long history of performances, it is quite logical that they also have medals, especially because during the 1980s, West Germany was the strongest european power. In that period, they were European champions twice. The first time in Croatia, in Split 1981., and the second time at year 1989. in its then capital, city of Bonn. Let’s not forget the bronze medal in Sofia 1985. At that time, the core of the German national team was represented by the Berlin club Spandau 04, which in that decade won even 4 titles of European champions in a club competition. However, these are not all the medals of German water polo players from the European championships. Germany have 4 silver medals (Paris 1931., Magdeburg 1934., London 1938., but also Utrecht 1966. by the GDR or East German team). There are also two bronzes (Budapest 1926. and Vienna 1995). Germany’s trophy successes in water polo are largely connected with Croatia. We mentioned that they won the first title of European champion in Split 1981. and the last medal at the European Championship was bronze in Vienna 1995., in the capital of Austria, when they beat Croatia for the medal!

The Germans can also boast of olympic medals. They won gold in Amsterdam 1928., silver in Los Angeles 1932. and in Berlin 1936., but also one bronze in Los Angeles 1984.

They have one medal at the world championships. Of course, the ‘golden generation’ of German water polo players from the 80s managed to do it. That national team won bronze in Guayaquil in 1982. The last medal Germany won in water polo, was 19 years ago, bronze in the World League in Belgrade 2005. German water polo is slowly returning to the highest european stage with its two most successful clubs, Spandau 04 and Waspo 98 Hannover.

ISRAEL

The Israeli national team was supposed to host the 2024. European Championship in Netanya. Unfortunately, due to the well-known circumstances of the war, Israel is unable to host the best men’s and women’s national teams in Europe.

Unlike the women’s national team of Israel, the European Championship in Dubrovnik and Zagreb will be only the second appearance in such competitions for the male representatives of this country. Israel men’s national team made debut on the european stage in Split 2022. So, Israel’s previous performances in men’s water polo are exclusively related to Croatia!

It is interesting, however, that Israel has more appearances at world championships than at european championships. At the world’s best competitions, Israelis have performed as many as three times. At the first World Championships in Belgrade 1973., when they have finished at 16th place. They had the same ranking at the Championship in West Berlin 1978., while at the tournament in Madrid 1986. they were ranked one place better or higher.

Israel has been paying a lot of attention to water polo in recent years, investing in the sport, infrastructure, clubs, and youth work. So far, they have had the most success with the women’s national team, which has progressed significantly in the last 10 years, and these Israeli water polo players belong to the circle of the best 8 in Europe.

Their male counterparts are still a little further from that, but their will, desire and great invested energy is noticeable. In principle, the Israeli water polo players already achieved their goal by coming to the European Championships in Split 2022., as well as now in Dubrovnik and Zagreb. They are still in the process of learning and gaining experience. If they continue to work as persistently as before, the result will not be lacking.

MALTA

A beautiful Mediterranean island country, known in the world of water polo for the Summer League. However, as far as the national team is concerned, they cannot really boast of special successes.

The tournament in Dubrovnik and Zagreb will be their fifth appearance at European Championships. The previous EC, precisely in Croatia (Split 2022.), will remain a special memory for Maltese water polo. Moreover, it entered their water polo history.

Namely, in Spaladium Arena, Malta achieved its first (so far and only) victory at the European Championships in 32 minutes. After a total of exactly 20 games, Malta managed to beat Slovenia 13:9. For the sake of complete accuracy, Malta had one victory before, but after penalty shoot-out. It was in Belgrade 2016. when Malta defeated Turkey in the battle for 15th place in Europe. After 32 minutes it was 10:10.

Malta participated in the Olympic Games twice! In Amsterdam 1928., when they beat Luxembourg 3:1, then lost to France in the quarter-finals (16:0). They appeared for the second time at the Games in Berlin 1936. but lost all three games.