The 2011 CEV Champions League is coming closer and closer to naming a champion. The hosts for the final four tournaments have been named, guaranteeing a men’s and women’s team a spot among the four.
Of course, the CEV Champions League isn’t really dinner table conversation for most families. The closest comparison in professional sports would be the Champions League of soccer. The design has many individual national leagues coming together to determine a World Champion of professional Volleyball. As with soccer, some leagues consistently put forward the heavy favourites. For soccer it’s the Spanish Primiera, the English Premier League. For Volleyball the favourites come from Italy, Russia, and Turkey.
The host nation for the 2011 CEV Champions League men’s division went to TRENTINO BetClic, representing Italy. The women’s division will be hosted by FenerbahceAcibadem ISTANBUL, out of Turkey. Though 13 teams remain in contention, those two squads are guaranteed a bye into the final four tournaments. Of course, they don’t leave it up to luck. Squads send in applications justifying their merit, and the league decides based on rational criteria.
CEV President Andre Meyer, interviewed on cev.lu, explained the rationale:
“Both clubs are the current club world champions… and have very loyal and passionate fans, so they really deserve to stage that real Volleyball festival we are all already very much looking forward to”.
The other teams remaining will enter a 12 team playoff bracket for the right to qualify for the final four. The final four tournaments are scheduled to occur on March 26th, 2011. If you haven't seen a CEV game, this is the best volleyball you will see. This is the NHL, the NFL, the anything you want to compare it to of volleyball. LAOLA1.tv is pretty much the only place you will find it. However, they do a good job of streaming live volleyball, so use it for what it's worth.
For the men, the bracket looks like this:
Bre Banca Lannutti CUNEO vs Lokomotiv BELGOROD
Tours VB vs Dinamo MOSCOW
Knack Randstad ROESELARE vs PGE Skra BELCHATOW
ACH Volley BLED vs Zenit KAZAN
Generali UUNTERHACHING vs JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel
Budvanska Rivijera BUDVA vs Noliko MAASEIK
For the women, it appears like the match-ups will look like:
Bank BPS Fakro MUSZYNA vs MC-Carnaghi VILLA CORTESE
VK Modranska PROSTEJOV vs Rabita BAKU
Zarechie ODINTSOVO vs Voléro ZÜRICH
Scavolini PESARO vs Dinamo MOSCOW
RC CANNES vs Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL
Aluprof BIELSKO-BIALA vs VakifGunesTTelekom ISTANBUL
Yes, CEV teams regularly capitalize their team names in a fashion atypical to North American professional sports. I don’t know the root of its origins, but that’s how it is. I find it endearing.
While Canada does have representation at the high levels of volleyball, the one man with a team left in contention failed to qualify for the round of 12. Nicolas Cundy of the AS Cannes squad, finished ranked 4th in pool A, ending their run at the World Championships. Volleyball Source Magazine, a pretty impressive online magazine, has two great spreads of where our National Team members play overseas professionally.