Olympic champions Serbia are also the defending World League champions ©Getty Images

Olympic men's gold medallists and defending champions Serbia will again be the team to beat when the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Water Polo World League begins tomorrow.

The 2017 edition of the tournament will start with the first matches in three European groups, which will operate on a home-and-away basis.

Serbia, who beat Croatia 11-7 in the Rio 2016 final for their first Olympic title, have been placed in Group A and will host Romania in their opening fixture in Kragujevac tomorrow.

The other game in the pool sees Slovakia entertain Germany in Košice.

In Group B, London 2012 Olympic champions Croatia, who had to settle for silver in Rio, face an intriguing clash with 2016 World League bronze medallists Greece in Rijeka.

Rio 2016 silver medallists Croatia will begin against Greece ©Getty Images
Rio 2016 silver medallists Croatia will begin against Greece ©Getty Images

The Netherlands will host France in Gouda in the second game in the group.

Only three teams have been placed in Group C, with Georgia opening up in home water against Russia tomorrow in Tbilisi.

Italy will also contest the pool, with only the three group winners progressing to next year's Super Final which will take place on as yet unspecified dates.

The qualifiers will be joined by the host nation of the event next year, which has yet to be announced, as well as four non-European teams who progress from an Intercontinental Tournament which has also yet to be given a date or host.

Serbia won the 2016 Super Final in Huizhou in China by beating the United States 10-6 in the final.

The second round of European qualifiers will be played on December 6.