After a gap year in 2020, the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship returns this week to the city of Betim, in Brazil. From December 7-11, the six teams qualified for the tournament will play for gold at the Ginasio Poliesportivo Divino Braga.
Volleyball elite to begin race for Men's Club World Championship glory
Teams from Brazil, Italy, Argentina and Iran set to play for gold in Betim
Published 01:01, 06 Dec 2021
This year’s edition of the tournament features teams from four different countries – hosts Brazil, Italy, Argentina and Iran. The clubs are split into two pools and the two best-ranked teams will advance to the semifinals.
Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova are the reigning world champions. Placed in Pool A, the Italian club have held on to some of the key players from their 2019 victory, such as Cuban middle blocker Robertlandy Simon, outside hitter Osmany Juantorena and libero Fabio Balaso, and have added a trio of Olympic medallists in Brazilian outside hitter Ricardo Lucarelli, Argentinean setter Luciano De Cecco and Italian opposite Ivan Zaytsev, who returned to play last week after knee surgery.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” he said after the team's Champions League match against Russia’s Lokomotiv Novobisirsk. “The World Championship is just a few days away and it’s good to see my knee is responding well.”
FUNVIC – Fundação Universitária Vida Cristã are the host country’s representatives in Pool A. Coached by Argentinean Javier Weber, the reigning Brazilian champions have undergone a massive rebuild ahead of their first appearance in the event and have in Brazilian national team libero Thales Hoss, Cuban outside hitter Luis Estrada and experienced setter Murilo Radke their most popular players.
Eight-time Argentinean champions UPCN San Juan are the third team in the pool. The bronze medallists of the 2014 and 2015 editions of the tournament have an interesting mix of experienced players, including veteran setter Sebastian Brajkovic and Brazilian middle blocker Jose Jorge Junior. They also have young, up-and-coming Argentinean talent in outside hitter Manuel Armoa, a member of this year’s FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship Dream Team, and libero Nicolas Perren.
Pool B also features an Italian team in Trentino Itas. The five-time Club World Championship winners will return to the tournament for the first time after winning in 2018. Head coach Angelo Lorenzetti's team is based around a solid and experienced core formed by Serbians Marko Podrascanin and Srecko Lisinac and Bulgarian Matey Kaziyski. It also includes some of the top young players in Italy in national team members Riccardo Sbertoli (setter) and Alessandro Michieletto (outside hitter).
“I’ve played for some of the top Italian teams for several years and hadn’t been able to play in a Club World Championship yet,” Podrascanin said. “Not everyone has the opportunity to compete against the best in the world and that’s great motivation. We have the Asian and South American champions in our pool, so we’ll need to perform well form the very beginning.”
The hosts of the tournament, Sada Cruzeiro are expected to challenge Trentino for the top spot in the pool. The three-time world champions have a new coach in Filipe Ferraz, who replaced the club’s longtime leader Marcelo Mendez at the helm this season, and continue to have a strong roster featuring as many as four Olympians in opposite and gold medallist Wallace de Souza, setter Fernando ‘Cachopa’ Kreling, middle blocker Isac Santos and Cuban outside hitter Miguel Angel Lopez.
“The World Championship is the tournament every player wants to be at,” said Filipe. “We’ve been preparing for it while we competed in the Superliga. Passing well is a big part of our game and that will be a challenge in pool play as while the Iranians are very dangerous with their floaters, Trentino have some really tough hard-servers. But we’ve prepared for it.”
Iran’s Sirjan Fooland are the third team in the pool and are set to make their first appearance in the tournament. The reigning Asian champions have a prolific scorer in Iranian national team opposite Saber Kazemi and also some players with international experience in outside hitter Aleksandar Blagojevik, middle blocker Armin Tashakori, setters Alireza Behboudi and Markkus Keel and libero Mostafa Heydari.
On Tuesday, the first day of competition, FUNVIC and UPCN will play at 18.00 local time while Sada Cruzeiro and Sirjan will clash at 21.30 local time.