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champions league – part 2

Posted by markleb on March 13, 2009

The Final Four is set.  Two teams from Italy, one from Russia, one from Greece.  The second leg of the quarter finals was a big anticlimax.  Iraklis easily won the first set of their match against Friedrichshafen to book their ticket to Prague, as did Macerata in Kazan (although Kazan did at least end up winning the match).  Trento needed two sets to get through against Czestochowa, which they did with embarassing ease.  As Italian teams are known for their block and defence was fantastic.  There is no moving around chasing holes in the block, and never being balanced but just standing in the areas that the ball is most likely to go to, controlling the ball well when it inevitably goes there and killing all high balls.  They completely dominated, although Czestochowa isn’t a high level team. If there was a mild surprise it was the ease with which Odintsovo won against Belchatow.  Even without Giba, the Russians were much too strong and Belchatow were poor.  The German Schoeps was dominating and Russian teams are as intimidating with the serve and block as Italians are with their block and defence.

The event of most interest around these matches was the Iraklis fans setting off flares in the gym after winning the first set and delaying the game for 15 minutes.  See some photos here.  Earlier in the season a match between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos was actually postponed because of crowd trouble in the gym.  Those Greeks love their volleyball!!

The Final Four will be held in Prague on April 4th and 5th.  The semi finals will be between Odintsovo and Iraklis, and Macerata and Trento.  I’m predicting a Russia – Italy final, with the Italians coming out on top.  Although everyone knows what a Giba inspired team is capable of.

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