Lausanne, Switzerland, December 6, 2017 – With next week’s FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship just around the corner, the four European participants are ready to test out their skills internationally on the continental level, in their first matches of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League.
All four of them, Poland’s ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle and Skra Belchatow, Russia's Zenit Kazan and Italy's Lube Civitanova, will start their campaigns in the pool stage of Europe’s most prestigious club competition on Wednesday, with one of them playing at home and the other three – away.
The team of Lube happens to be in Pool A in both competitions. Before showing their A game against Brazil’s Sada Cruzeiro Volei on December 12, when they start their Club World Championship quest in Opole, the Italians are visiting their compatriots of Sir Colussi Sicoma Perugia at 20:30 local time. This all-Italian derby has been selected Match of the Week in the Champions League.
Lube’s second opponent in Opole, ZAKSA, will be warming up for their Club World Championship start against Iran’s Sarmayeh Bank Tehran, with a Champions League Pool E game at Arkas Izmir. This match starts at 19:00 local time in Turkey.
The other Polish participant in Poland next week, Skra, will meet their first opponent, China’s Shanghai, in Lodz on Tuesday, but before that they will entertain France’s Chaumont VB 52 Haute Marne in nearby Belchatow for their start in Pool C of the Champions League. “I want my players to maintain their good form from the national league into the Champions League and the Club World Championship next week. There are many difficult matches ahead of us and this one marks the beginning of that period,” stated Skra’s coach Roberto Piazza. Wednesday’s fixture in Belchatow is set for 18:00.
The other European team, competing in Lodz next week, is none other, but the defending three-time-in-a-row European club champions of Zenit Kazan. The Russian powerhouse will start the defence of their continental crown in France with an away Pool D fixture at Spacer’s Toulouse at 20:00 local time, before travelling to Poland to battle for world honours. “The fact that the best team in the world is coming to Toulouse is truly exceptional,” exclaimed Spacer’s coach Stephane Sapinart.
“For Zenit, there is no specific goal to win one competition or another,” said Zenit’s American player Matthew Anderson. “Zenit must win everything! We have just won the national cup in Russia and, of course, in the Club World Championship and in the Champions League, we will not just be aiming at the second or the third place.”