It’s the moment that all volleyball fans have been waiting for. The CEV Champions League volleyball has finally gotten underway. This comes after the 2020 European Cup was abruptly cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thankfully the FIVB has announced updates to the year’s upcoming volleyball calendar, and the Champions League always provides some thrilling sporting entertainment. This year’s men’s Champions League will feature a format that sees the 18 competing teams split up into six separate groups of three.
Already we have seen some impressive performances. Jastrzebski are topping group C with two wins out of two, and Dinamo Moscow have also made a strong start. However, it’s Fino Kaposvar SE who have really impressed with four straight wins to rise to the top of Group A. The Hungarian team recently completed a stunning win over HAOK Mladost, and most bookmakers featured on wetten.com Canada think that Fino Kaposvar SE could have what it takes to go the distance.
But there’s still plenty of volleyball to come, and it remains to be seen whether the defending champions Cucine Lube Civitanova could retain their title. However, many volleyball fans will be fancying Jastrzebski Wegiel of Poland to make a good impression this year. This is because this team features outstanding talents like Lukas Kampa who is arguably the best setter in the world. Plus it’s worth noting that this Polish team includes many other top class international stars such as France’s Yacine Louati and Jurii Gladyr from the Ukraine.
Not to be outdone, Dinamo Moscow will be keen to make an impression in this year’s Champions League. The Russian team have underperformed in recent years with no final appearance made in over a decade. However Dinamo Moscow has invested in some major signings that could seriously boost their chances. These have included the formidable Bulgarian opposite Tsvetan Sokolov and homegrown star Yaroslav Podlesnykh. Plus with other talented stars like Finnish player Lauri Kerminen and Belgium’s Sam Deroo, it’s clear that Dinamo Moscow will take some beating.
However, the best thing about this year’s Champions League is just how open the competition is. Many volleyball fans will be rooting for the Bulgarian champions Neftochimik Burgas as a result of star player Nikolay Nikolov. Plus it’s worth noting that Serbia’s Vojvodina Semi Novi Sad are looking excellent for 2021. This is because the team features top international stars such as Nimir Abdel-Aziz from the Netherlands alongside the talented Italian setter Simone Giannelli.
Plus we can’t ignore the fact that Greenyard Maaseik have come on in leaps and bounds over the past few months. The Belgian team has done a great job in cultivated homegrown talent such as Jolan Cox and Pieter Verhees, and it’s easy to see why Greenyard Maaseik could be this year’s dark horses. Final mention must be made for the Swiss team Lindaren Volley Amriswil who be counting on the incredible scoring form of Thomas Zass to push them towards the finals.
It all seems like a long time ago since we saw Cucine Lube Civitanova win the last full Champions League season in May 2019. This saw the Italian team putting in a masterful performance to emerge the 3-1 winners over Zenit Kazan. But a lot has changed in volleyball in the ensuing years. Not only have the teams had to deal with the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic, but many veterans of the game are entering the twilight of their careers. But one thing’s for sure and that’s that the return of the Champions League is a very welcome sight for all volleyball fans.