Spain's women thrashed Croatia to start their title defence in style ©Belgrade 2016

Spain’s women’s team produced a masterclass as they began their European Water Polo Championship title defence with a 29-3 demolition of Croatia in Belgrade.

The opening Group B match of the tournament saw a clear gulf in quality between the two sides, as Spain raced into an 8-0 advantage after the opening quarter of play.

Croatia, appearing their first European Championship since hosting the event in 2010, proved unable to stem the tide of attacks as their opponents continued to score at will.

Clara Espar and Spain’s captain Jennifer Pareja ended the match with five goals apiece, as they sent a strong message to their rivals, who will be bidding to wrestle their title away.

The 2012 champions Italy are likely be a contender for gold and the 2015 World Championship bronze medallists got they campaign underway with a 10-3 win over France.

The host country, meanwhile, were left disappointed in their first women’s European Championship tie since 2006, after they fell to a narrow 14-13 loss to Germany at the Kombank Arena.

Russia earned a convincing win over Turkey in the men's competition
Russia earned a convincing win over Turkey in the men's competition ©Belgrade 2016

In the men’s competition, three-time champions Italy impressively dispatched of their German opponents in their Group C opener.

The Italians cruised into an 8-1 lead by the half-time interval and added to their advantage in the final two quarters to eventually seal a 16-5 victory.

Italy share leadership of Group C with Romania after they secured a 12-6 win over Georgia.

The trio of Alexey Bugaychuk, Sergey Lisunov and Artem Odintsov contributed 10 goals to help Russia to a 17-8 win over Turkey in Group D.

Hungary, who boast the record number of men’s titles, began their pursuit of a 13th title with a frustrating draw against Greece.

There was little to separate the teams throughout the tie with the score level at 5-5 at half-time.

Although Hungary were able to edge into a 7-6 lead by the end of the third quarter, they could not maintain that advantage as Greece hit back to secure an 8-8 draw in their opening Group D tie.