Quarter-finals, Play Offs, CEV Cup or elimination: this year the Champions League Pool Stage, which will end tonight, opens up many possible scenarios for the continuation of the competition, all to be decided in one exciting night.
Today, Wednesday 25 January, all the teams will take to the field, but even those already qualified will have something to fight for: starting from this season, in fact, there are no draws for the following rounds, but the pairings will be established following the ranking of the first stage.
Let’s make some order!
The winners of each Pool go directly to the quarter-finals, and four teams – the Italians Trentino Itas, Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia and Cucine Lube Civitanova and the Polish Jastrzebski Wegiel – have already achieved their goal.
The fifth will be the winner of Pool B, one between Halkbank Ankara, Aluron CMC Warta Zawiercie and Berlin Recycling Volleys: the first, which host the already eliminated Hebar Pazardzhik, are clearly the favourite one, while the Poles and the Germans will play (at least) the second place in direct clash.
As for the ranking of the first places, at the moment Trento is ahead of Jastrzebski for points quotient, followed by Perugia and Civitanova.
However, everything can still change today.
The runners-up and the best of the third will have to play the Play Offs, an intermediate round before the quarter-finals.
The only teams already sure of playing them are VfB Friedrichshafen and the European champions Zaksa Kedzierzyn-Kozle while, in Pool E, a real “playoff” will be played between Ziraat Bank Ankara and ACH Volley Ljubljana, and in Pool C, Tours VB, who will face Benfica at home in France, is hoping for a defeat by Knack Roeselare in Civitanova to overtake the Belgians.
Again, the qualified teams will compete based on their position in the standings: first against sixth, second against fifth and third against fourth.
Finally, the other 4 third-placed teams will move on to the CEV Cup quarter-finals against the winners of the Play Offs (which will always end today).
Among these certainly Czech Republic’s CEZ Karlovarsko and one between France’s Montpellier and Serbia’s Vojvodina Novi Sad, who will face each other in the direct clash at the home of the French.
Even SWD Powervolleys Duren theoretically have a chance to finish third, which however comes from a practically “impossible” victory in Perugia.
Finally, already mathematically eliminated, Bulgaria’s Hebar Pazardzhik, Portugal’s Benfica and Belgium’s Decospan VT Menen.
The situation in details (updated calendar with all results is here)
Standings of Pool A: Jastrzebski 5 wins (15 points), Friedrichshafen 4 (10), Vojvodina 1 (4), Montpellier 0 (2).
Standings of Pool B: Halkbank 4 wins (10 points), Zawiercie 3 (10), Berlin 3 (8), Hebar 0 (2).
Standings of Pool C: Civitanova 5 wins (14 points), Roeselare 3 (7), Tours 2 (7), Benfica 0 (2).
Standings of Pool D: Trento 5 wins (15 points), Zaksa 4 (11), Karlovarsko 1 (4), Menen 0 (0).
Standings of Pool E: Perugia 5 wins (15 points), ACH 2 (7), Ziraat 2 (5), Duren 1 (3).
…To quarterfinals: Trentino Itas, Jastrzebski Wegiel, Sir Sicoma Monini Perugia, Cucine Lube Civitanova, winners of Pool B.
…To Play Offs: VfB Friedrichshafen, Grupa Azoty Kedzierzyn-Kozle, 2nd Pool B, 2nd Pool C, 2nd Pool E, best third.
…To CEV Cup: CEZ Karlovarsko, third of Pool A, best third, third among best thirds.
…Eliminated: Hebar Pazardzhik, Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Decospan VT Menen, fourth-placed Pool A, fourth-placed Pool E.