Time: 18:00 CET

ZAGREB (Croatia) – Croatia comes in atop the Group D standings after coming back against Greece, the reigning Olympic silver medallists, in the opening game. Croatia’s third-quarter 3:1 run was the difference as they held on to defeat Greece, 12:11.

Russia, meanwhile, faces its first test in this year’s FINA Men’s Water Polo World League European Qualification in their bid to make it back to water polo’s top tier after missing out on making it to the last FINA World Championships or Olympic Games.

To get off on a winning start, Russia will need to find a way to slow down Croatia’s standout centre forward Josip Vrlic. The rugged 35-year-old is coming off two goals and superb all-around play as he earned the Player of the Match award in Croatia’s FINA Water Polo World League opener.

Ivica Tucak – Croatia Head Coach

The team is together after almost a month, so we're all looking forward to this gathering. Considering the new calendar for this year, in which we expect the European Championship in Split, as well as the World Championship in Budapest, this match with the Russian team will be extremely good for the preparation of everything that is waiting for us.

The first round of the FINA World League which we played against Greece showed us that we are on a good path towards the right game which we're looking for. Tomorrow with the Russian team I expect an equally good game. If we achieve that win, we will secure first place in the group and a slightly easier draw later. I hope that we will all be healthy and although we had some problems with Covid, after the last test we will be able to decide with which players we will be able to enter the game against Russia.

Andrey Belofastov – Russia Head Coach

I am very glad to be back in Zagreb. We are playing against a very good team. On the other hand, we have more or less a completely new squad, with the exception of a few older players. I expect it to be a very good and interesting match. In general, we know the strengths and weaknesses of the Croatian team. We have watched a few of their last matches, including one against Greece in the last round of the World League where they won. We have made some tactics combinations and variants of play. I am sure that my team will do its best to be a good rival in the pool and, hopefully, win.


Time: 19:00 CET

TRIESTE (Italy) – As the defending water polo titlists from the 18th FINA World Championships, Italy is looking for its first win in 2022 after dropping their opening game 12:9 to Serbia, the reigning Olympic champions. It’s been a couple of months slightly off the top play from the Italians, who finished 7th at the Tokyo 2020 Games and had “five or six” Covid-positive players out of the FINA Water Polo World League opener.

Coach Alessandro (Sandro) Campagna sounded upbeat in a feature interview with FINA following the Serbia contest saying, “There is a lot of passion, a lot of calm and lots of giving 100 percent” while also citing the play of up-and-comers from the team that won the silver medal at the junior men’s world championship last year in Prague.

Led by head coach Peter Nizny, Slovakia’s upcoming contest against Italy will be their first in this year’s European qualification rounds. Slovakia will take on Serbia on March 8th in the final Group C matchup.

Alessandro Campagna – Italy Head Coach

We are a team under construction and we are suffering a lot from the variations of the international calendar. This fixture allows us to finally take advantage of a full three days of work, we are opening a new cycle with many changes. We need time to continue building, but we did show something good during the trip to Serbia against the Olympic champions, even with many new faces.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has had a greater impact on us than in other countries, and because of the restrictions, it is difficult to make an in-depth assessment of the work done. However, we must take every opportunity to improve, and I see this stage from this perspective.

Peter Nizny – Slovakia Head Coach

We are a new team and we have to use this opportunity to grow. Playing against the world champions will allow us to check our level and understand what we need to work on. We know it's a tough game, but we want to do well even though there is a big technical difference and different expectations between the two teams.


Time: 19:00 CET

REIMS (France) – After missing out on the 18th FINA World Championships and last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, France is looking to improve on their seventh-place showing at the FINA Water Polo World League Super Finals 2021 – especially with this year’s culminating event taking place in Strasbourg.

This matchup will be the first game in Group B, which also includes Germany.

Spain comes into 2022 having finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympics and second at the 18th FINA World Championships, but having missed out on last year’s FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Finals.

Quotes from the head coaches of France and Spain to come.