Date: 9 May 2018, 09:00
Source: CEV
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Facts and figures to know ahead of #CLF4Kazan semis

After VakifBank ISTANBUL added another chapter to their success story in Bucharest last weekend, Volleyball fans around the world can now start looking forward to the ‘ultimate Volleyball show’ coming up in Kazan on Saturday and Sunday.

The 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Men will be reaching its climax in the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan and Russia’s sports capital where hosts Zenit KAZAN will be trying to add a sixth title to their resume to improve on their all-time record in the competition. Two teams from Italy – Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA and Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA – plus Poland’s Zaksa KEDZIERZYN-KOZLE will be the ‘challengers’ hoping to end Russia’s supremacy in the competition, which has been lasting since 2012.


•    The first semi-final will feature the runners-up from the 2018 edition of the Polish and Italian national leagues, which ended last weekend with Zaksa and Cucine Lube relinquishing their respective domestic crowns to PGE Skra BELCHATOW and Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA.
•    Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA are the gold medal winners from the 2002 edition. Interestingly, Zaksa – at the time Mostostal-Azoty KEDZIERZYN hosted the Final Four that year in Opole, but the hosts had to be content with fourth place. Next to their gold medal from 2002, Lube finished fourth in 2007 and 2009 before sweeping the bronze medals in 2016 and 2017.
•    The Polish team finished fourth on home soil in 2002 before securing the bronze medal a year later in Milan and they did so in 2013 as well when the Final Four took place in Omsk, Russia.
•    Zaksa will be trying to improve or at least match the best result achieved by a Polish team in Europe’s elite club competition – the runner-up position claimed by PGE Skra BELCHATOW in 2012 and Asseco Resovia RZESZOW in 2015. TRENTINO Volley are the last Italian team to have stood on top of the podium – they swept three titles in a row from 2009 to 2011.
•    Zaksa and Cucine Lube boast the second and fourth best scorer in this year’s Champions League – Maurice Torres and Tsvetan Sokolov who have piled up 176 and 158 points, respectively.
•    Zaksa have lost only one match in this year’s Champions League – to Noliko MAASEIK, when the Belgians claimed a 3-2 home victory in the fourth leg of the League Round. Cucine Lube, on the other hand, dropped their two matches with Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA in Pool A.
•    Earlier in the 2017-2018 season, Cucine Lube claimed silver at the 2017 FIVB Men’s Club World Championship held in Poland – where they beat Zaksa 3-2 in the pool phase in Opole.

Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA (ITA) vs. Zenit KAZAN (RUS)

•    This is a repeat of the 2017 gold medal match – which Zenit KAZAN won 3-0 to silence 11,500 fans at Palalottomatica in Rome.
•    Zenit KAZAN boast an all-time record of five Champions League titles (2008, 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017). Together with TRENTINO Volley, they are the only team to have swept the title for three years in a row. A fourth win in a row would add another chapter to their unprecedented success story.
•    Russian teams have claimed six titles in a row in Europe’s elite competition – with their reign starting with Zenit KAZAN’s victory in 2012, continued by Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK and Belogorie BELGOROD in 2013 and 2014 – before Zenit swept the last three titles in a row. If you add to the count the titles won by Lokomotiv BELGOROD in 2003 and 2004, Russia have eight men’s Champions League titles to their name. Italy follow next with five – Lube in 2002, Sisley TREVISO in 2006 and TRENTINO Volley with their three straight titles from 2009 to 2011.
•    Both teams have just claimed their respective national leagues – Zenit KAZAN doing so for the tenth time and PERUGIA celebrating their first such triumph in Italy.
•    Zenit KAZAN dropped only three sets in the League Round before ‘by-passing’ the Playoffs to move straight to the Final Four as hosts. Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA started their journey in the 3rd Round and only lost the return match of their Playoff 6 fixture with Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK – but at that stage, they had already secured their progression to the Finals.
•    Aleksandar Atanasijevic is by far the top scorer in this year’s Champions League. The Serbian opposite hitter of PERUGIA has recorded a massive haul of 235 points, almost 60 points clear of Maurice Torres (176).
•    If Zenit use the home-court advantage to claim a fourth straight title, Alexander Gutsalyuk will further improve on his all-time record - being the only player to have claimed five Champions League titles to date (four with Zenit and one with Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK).