Club Volleyball

    Tricky and dangerous: The excercise of Champions League predictions


    Article Sat, Nov 20 2021
    Author: Constantine Dimaras
    Constantine Dimaras
    MVP Aleksander Sliwka of Kedzierzyn-Kozle tries to beat the Trentino block of Nimir Abdel-Aziz and Marko Podrascaninin in the 2021 Champions League SuperFinal. Who will be in their place in 2022?

    Venturing into the realm of predictions for such highly competitive and also long competitions as the men's European Champions League is notoriously tricky and even downright dangerous. Who could have foreseen the amazing turn of events that led to Grupa Azoty Kedzierzyn-Kozle bringing Poland to the forefront of European club performance for the first time in almost half a century?

    Poland's Jastrzebski Wegiel seem to have the edge in Pool A, alongside rookies Hebar Pazardzhik of Bulgaria and stalwarts (but, on paper, at least) lesser Knack Roeselare of Belgium and VfB Friedrichshafen of Germany.

    Pool B seems to favour Russia's Dinamo Moscow over Projekt Warsaw of Poland, Greenyard Maaseik of Belgium and Ziraat Bankasi Ankara of Turkey.

    But Pool C is the 'Pool of Death' with defending champions Grupa Azoty Kedzierzyn-Kozle up against 2020 European champions Cucine Lube Civitanova of Italy and Russian powerhouse Lokomotiv Novosibirsk, alongside returning side Merkur Maribor of Slovenia.

    Sergey Grankin sets the ball for Berlin Recycling Volleys in the 2020-21 Champions League. Can the German side make it past pool play again this season?

    Germany's Berlin Recycling Volleys and Russia's Zenit Saint Petersburg probably take a preference over Portugal's Benfica Lisbon and Serbia's Vojvodina Novi Sad in Pool D- though, of course, only one can get the direct ticket to the last eight.

    And Pool E will, more likely than not, see an all-Italy race between last season's runners-up Itas Trentino and Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia for first place - if they can come out unscathed from their clashes with France's Cannes Dragons and Turkey's Fenerbahce HDI Istanbul.

    Yoandy Leal hits the ball down the line and past the block of Fabio Ricci and Thijs Ter Horst in the all-Italy pool play clash between Lube and Perugia of the 2020-21 Champions League.

    Then of course, much will depend on the results of the drawing of lots for the knockout stages of the Champions League to determine pairings in the quarterfinals - though by that point all teams will have proven their worth after the gruelling pool phase and any match would be a toss-up.

    So, on to the dangerous bit. Subjective, unprejudiced and highly unreliable prediction on who will be the 2022 European champions: Trentino.