Seven Things To Watch For In The 2018 Men’s Champions League

  0 Carly DeMarque | December 04th, 2017 | European volleyball, International Volleyball, News


  • October 4, 2017 – May 13, 2018
  • CEV Champions Cup
  • Fourth Round
  • Event Page

The fourth round of the 2018 CEV Men’s Champions League is about to begin with the top eight club teams in Europe ready to square off. With this, there are a number of things that you as a fan need to watch for throughout the fourth round of the competition:

1. Will Russia Reign Again?

Since 2012, teams from Russia have swept the CEV Champions League. This dominance has shown a strong suit of players that have made their way into the Russian league such as Matt Anderson, Wilfredo Leon and Maxim Mikhailov.

  • Zenit Kazan – 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • Lokomotiv Novosibirsk – 2013
  • Belogori Belgorod – 2014

Zenit Kazan has held the largest impact in the tournament, having four of the last six gold medals. The Kazan squad is looking to continue the tradition and win their fourth straight Champions League. They also won a title back in 2008, a win this year would put them at a record six championships.

2. Will History Be Made By Zenit Kazan?

No team has won the Champions League four times in a row. Zenit Kazan and Diatec Trentino both have won the competition three times in a row but a win from Kazan would write new history into the competition.

3. Can a New Country Take the Title?

The Champions League has been around since the 2000-01 season with just four countries claiming the title in 17 editions – Russia, Italy, France and Germany.

From the looks at this years competition, it could go by the way of Russia or Italy very easily as they both have multiple and strong teams in the competition. Also looking to make a breakthrough in the 2018 edition of the Champions League are squads from Poland and Turkey.

4. Will Cuban-rooted Players Make A Big Impact?

There are two big names from Cuba that could make a large impact for their squads in the Champions League – Wilfredo Leon and Osmany Juantorena.

Leon is a fixture on reigning champions Zenit Kazan but will sit out in the team’s first match against Spacer’s Toulouse VB due to an elbow injury. It is unclear how much Leon will sit out in the Champions League but his absence could cause problems for the Russian team.

Juantorena, on the other hand, is flying high with Cucine Lube Civitanova in Italy, helping the squad to the first place position in the Italian League. This week, Juantorena was the MVP of the team’s match against Calzedonia Verona where they swept their opponent easily.

The impact of these two players could be the make or break for their teams come late into the tournament.

5. Can Finland’s Team Rise To The Occasion?

Finland’s Ford Store Levoranta Sastamala is the first from the country to make it into the Champions League and first of any Nordic country to compete in the group stage of the competition.

To advance to the fourth round, Ford Store took down Jihostroj Seske Budejovice, losing in the first match but winning the second and forcing a golden set that they won 15-12. They have some momentum on their side but have tough competition ahead of them.

6. Who Will Win A Tough 2017 Semifinal Rematch?

The match to watch of the first leg of the fourth round will be Sir Safety Conad Perugia and Cucine Lube Civitanova. Last year, the two squared off in the semifinals, where Sir Safety pulled ahead late to win in the tiebreak.

7. Could We See A 2017 Finals Rematch This Year?

Last year, Sir Safety Conad Perugia and Zenit Kazan advanced to the finals of the competition, with both teams being as strong as ever they have the capabilities to recreate a 2017 finals in 2018.

Zenit is bringing back a strong core from their championship squad including Maxim Mikhailov, Matt Anderson and Wilfredo Leon. For Sir Safety, they’ve retained Aleksandar Atanasijevic while adding Aaron Russell this season.

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About Carly DeMarque

Carly DeMarque

Carly DeMarque has been involved with competitive volleyball for the majority of her life, playing competitively at the club and collegiate level for 15 years and coaching club for five. Now a retired Division I volleyball athlete out of McNeese State University, she continues her volleyball enthusiasm by stepping back into …

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