The most anticipated match of Champions League will be played tonight: Sir Colussi Sicoma Perugia against Zenit Kazan!
Bernardi: “Too bad I can’t play this match!”
León teases Verbov: “I’ll serve 3 aces against you”
Tonight at 20:30 CET, at a soldout Perugia’s PalaBarton (5,300 seats), two European volleyball powerhouses will collide in the first leg of the 2019 CEV Men’s Volleyball Champions League semifinal.
Perugia and Zenit dominate this season in the Champions League in the attack (55% Perugia, 53% Kazan) and service (2.1 aces per set by Perugia, 1.9 aces per set by Zenit).
Also, have both nearly a perfect record in the competition.
At this moment, Perugia are unbeaten (8-0) while Zenit suffered a defeat in the quarterfinal rematch against Trefl Gdańsk that cloud have cost them losing the Champions League crown after four years. However, Zenit prevailed in the golden set and scheduled a matchup with Perugia who will play their third straight semifinal in the tournament.
In the previous two years, the two team faced each other in two highly important Champions League matches: last year, Zenit prevailed in the semifinal, while two years back, the Russian side was better than their rivals in the final. It was 3-0 on both occasions!
Perugia head coach Lorenzo Bernardi, who will celebrate 134 matches at the helm of Perugia, (an all-time record for any coach working for the Italian team), said:
“I’m very happy and proud of the club, the city and the team for all they have done in recent years and for having the opportunity to play for a spot in the Champions League final against Kazan, a team which can be described with incredible adjectives. We’re aware of our strength, we know that our team is different from last year’s and from two years ago but we know what our weapons are. We have to play, we must enjoy it and above all, we must have fun playing a very, very difficult match which will certainly be beautiful. Too bad I can’t play it!”
Biznes Online reported that Wilfredo León, who spent the last four seasons with Zenit, was greeted with great pleasure by his former teammates and head coach Vladimir Alekno at the end of Perugia’s training session yesterday.
“I will make seven aces of 21 serves,”
the Cuban-born star teased Zenit libero Aleksey Verbov, who then asked León: “And how much against me?”
Perugia outside hitter answered: “Three against you”.
This season, León broke the Italian Championship regular season aces record that was held by Osmany Juantorena with 67. He made 94 aces in 89 matches.
2019 CEV Volleyball Champions League semifinal – 1st leg:
PGE Skra Bełchatów – Cucine Lube Civitanova (18:00 CET)
Sir Colussi Sicoma Perugia – Zenit Kazan (20:30 CET)
2nd leg scheduled on April 10.
Sources: cev.eu, sport.business-gazeta.ru