It’s a challenging assignment for six of Europe’s best after qualifying matches in January-March, especially as the Budapest FINA World Championships are less than two months away.

Group winners Hungary and Italy are joined by second-ranked teams Netherlands and Spain, followed by third-ranked France and Germany.

The tight format has Netherlands playing France and Spain facing Greece on day one.

Hungary will play the winner of the Spain-Greece encounter on day two and Italy will take on the winner of the Netherlands-France match. These four teams will form the European contingent at the Super Final.

Sunday will wrap up the tournament with the play-offs, which are ostensibly dead rubbers.

Thus, Friday is the movement day and while the Dutch appear to have the ascendancy over France, the Spain-Greece match-up is deliciously enticing.

With Anna Espar and Elena Ruiz raining in bombs from outside, the Miki Oca-coached Spanish have an excellent all-round team and will need to use all its skills against the Greeks. With Eleftheria Plevritou spearheading the team, Greece will be hoping to shrug off its Covid problems — especially the 13-7 loss to the Netherlands in Rotterdam last month.

France has been brought into the competition to replace Russia and its surge to Paris 2024 gets another valuable boost, although the Dutch have the irrepressible Simone van de Kraats and Sabrina van der Sloot usually on the rampage.

Hungary and Italy, as group winners, have the form to carry off the tournament, but as automatic qualifiers for the Super Final, will have less to prove.

Italy has fronted with a host of newcomers in matches this year in the promising Claudia Marletta alongside veterans like Giulia Emmolo.

Hungary also has filled cap numbers with a new wave of Magyar stars. Watch out for Kamilla Farago — an ominous-sounding name, but no direct relationship with Hungarian great Tamas Farago — and Tamara Farkas as well as old-stagers Rebecca Parkes and Dora Leimeter.

This tournament sets the stage, not only for the Super Final, yet to be determined at which venue, but for the forthcoming  FINA World Championships.