Greece’s men’s and women’s national water polo teams are set to compete in the European Championships in Barcelona, which begin on Saturday.
Greece’s women’s team will get things started on July 14 as they take on France. The women are in Group A, and in addition to France, they will also face Italy (July 15), Croatia (July 17), Israel (July 19), and the Netherlands (July 21). The top four teams in the group will then advance to the quarterfinals.
In goal for Greece will be Chrysoula Diamantopoulou, while Ioanna Stamatopoulou will be the reserve goalkeeper. Also on the roster will be Alexandra Asimaki, Alkisti Avramidou, Ioanna Chydirioti, Vasiliki Diamantopoulou, Nikoleta Eleftheriadou, Maria Patra, Eleftheria Plevritou, Margarita Plevritou, Elisavet Protopapa, Christina Tsoukala, and Eleni Xenaki. They are coached by Georgios Morfesis.
Nine of the 13 players on Greece’s roster are 23 or younger, so this is a young group of girls that will be together for many years to come. The future looks very bright, as many of these girls have won various medals (including golds) in recent World and European tournaments for their age groups.
Greece’s women’s team has never won the European Championships, though they finished runner-up in 2010 and 2012 and won the World Championships in 2011. Asimaki, Avramidou, and Tsoukala were on all of those teams, while C. Diamantopoulou was also on the team in 2012. At the last European Championships in 2016, Greece finished in fifth place overall. It must be noted that Greece won this year’s inaugural Europa Cup, beating powerhouses such as Hungary, the Netherlands, and Russia along the way.
Greece’s men’s team will play their first game on July 16 against Turkey. They are in Group C, and will also face the Netherlands (July 18) and Croatia (July 20). The first placed team in the group will get a bye to the quarterfinals, and the second and third placed teams will advance to the play-off round.
Konstantinos Flegkas will be Greece’s goalkeeper, and 20-year-old Emmanouil Zerdevas will serve as the backup goalkeeper. Rounding out the roster will be Stylianos Argyropoulos-Kanakakis, Georgios Dervisis, Ioannis Fountoulis, Konstantinos Genidounias, Alexandros Gounas, Marios Kapotsis, Christodoulos Kolomvos, Konstantinos Mourikis, Dimitris Nikolaidis, Dimitris Skoumpakis, and Angelos Vlachopoulos. They are coached by Thodoris Vlachos, who also coaches at Olympiacos and recently won the European Championship at the club level with the Erythrolefki this past season.
Like the women’s team, this is also a young team which features many players who won various medals (including golds) with the junior and youth national teams.
On the senior level, Greece has never won a medal at the European Championships. The best result was two fourth place finishes, including at the last one in 2016. Greece has won two bronze medals in World Championships, in 2005 and then again in 2015. This year’s squad features eight players from the 2015 and 2016 teams, a clear sign that Greece has a very good chance to win their first-ever European Championship medal. Greece also finished fourth at last year’s World Championship in Budapest, with 11 out of the 13 players on this year’s squad.
by Andrew Stamas
Image Source: sportfm.gr
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