CEV Champions League 2019

  • I will comment this totally unexpected major change in two posts intentionally: here are my thoughts about it generally, in the second I will order the (likely) participating teams again in the new ranking.

    First of all, this is typical for our two top volleyball federations (applies also to FIVB, not just CEV): no reliability, but quick decisions to do something essentially different. This is also lacking integrity, but this is no surprise, because FIVB is IMHO totally corrupt (as virtually all big world sports federations) and CEV only a little better. They should be ashamed, to erase the already published rankings and berths for the leagues in this stage, nobody could prepare in time for this change, so the short time to react for the clubs regarding application for certain European cups was reduced even more.

    In detail some pros and cons:

    It's positive to have again the same number of pools for both women's and men's competition. There is IMHO no point to handle this differently.

    It's okay IMHO to stick to pools of four each - this is an established format and limits the number of matches to a reasonable number, but makes them also not too small (like pools of three).

    It's good, that the top three federations now get fixed berths in pool stage - there is simply no point especially for Turkey and Italy to enforce qualification rounds to them, which they will always pass (aside from some seldom happening miracle).

    Also positive is, that by putting the strongest federations all directly in pool stage, they are not kicking away inferior leagues clubs necessarily anymore. So it is more fair to qualification participants, despite there will only two survive now instead of four the last time. This can help to create stronger and more balanced pools indeed.

    Host advantage was always tilting the competition and also influencing the ranking list in favour of the hosts. So the more classical quarters and semis approach is okay for me - and make the chance to get to quarters a little higher for not top-leagues teams (8 instead of 6 slots).

    The double header women's and men's final at a neutral host location is no great idea, the reasons were already pronounced in earlier posts: maybe too distant for the spectators at that location and a little out-of-system. Maybe it may work though, but does neutral host mean only from a city not in the competition (as I guess) or even not from a country of the participants? The last would limit possibilities and simply exclude the strongest federations from being hosts, which seems unlikely. Otherwise having a finalist team in the same country will often result in an hosting advantage for them, despite not fully predictable, but often likely with only two finalists per country considering the big difference in strength between the three top leagues and the remainder.

    And finally: what they obviously did NOT is also worth to mention: there is no hint, that they would relax very expensive regulations, which are a serious issue for less well financed leagues and/or clubs, even if they are strong enough for participation. In pool stage you have alone per home match minimum additional costs of three times and two times 10.000 Euro, for laola1.tv high quality streaming and video challenge application, so in total 60.000 Euro, not taking into account long travels usually by airplane and hotel costs and so on. So the too big financial obstacles seem to persist and will not result in broader acceptance of financially limited teams.

    Even worse, increasing the prize money benefits usually only the already rich clubs, which get further in the competition, and increases even more the gap between them and the others.

    Also I think, the CEV should exclude obviously too feeble teams, last season there were three I would never accept to apply, i.e. Sliedrecht, Kfar Saba and Brcko. This is no approach, which makes any sense, because a minimum strength should be prerequisite for application even for qualification IMHO. It is not enough, to let every national champion apply, some of them are just insane applying, I think.

  • If these rules and current probabilities of teams participating are taken into account, this would likely result in the following 18 teams being in pool stage:

    Turkey: VakifBank, Eczacibasi, Fenerbahce
    Russia: Kazan, Moscow, Ekaterinburg
    Italy: Conegliano, Novara, Scandicci

    Poland: Police, LKS Commercecon Lodz
    France: Béziers, Cannes(?)

    Switzerland: (Volero ?)
    Romania: CSM Bukarest
    Germany: Schwerin(?)
    Serbia: Vizura RUMA
    Czech: (Prostejov ?)

    Replacement teams: Slovenia/Maribor and Belorus/Minsk; maybe even Bulgaria/Plovdiv or Finland/Hämeenlinna may have a chance, if more won't apply from the above list.

    IMHO Serbia is too weak for a fixed berth for example, but we don't know for sure, how the succession will happen - maybe they change this too?

    So there are at least two questions not completely clarified...

  • and Mr. Boričić is doing what he is trying for last 10 years, to destroy club volleyball to have more national team competition, since there is better money in national competition than in club ones.

    Hope that clubs who invest big money will finally make a decision and as ULEB did in basketball make their own league and compete in it!

    Champions League since Boričić became CEV president is worst and worst and next season will be terrible!

  • I have now included the changed rules/ranking by CEV for both pool stage participants (from 12 extended to 18 ) as for qualification participants (number not yet determined as usual), to see, which (two!) teams have the best chances to joing pool stage, on first page of this thread.

  • Any idea about how the ranking will be for other european cups? I hope they fuse CEV cup and Challenge cup and make a group stage there too.

    No, both competitions persist seperately, the ranking lists altogether are updated at the usual site meanwhile, for women CEV cup and Challeng cup look at the fifth and last page of document:

    EC cups ranking 2019 current state

    Look for Italy: seldom participating in CEV cup, and lately not sucessfully, and not at all in Challenge cup, they are rather bad in this ranking opposed to the CL ranking, where they have passed Russia.

  • Somewhat unexpectedly, Vizura decides to withdraw and not take place in CL or any European competitions next season. :S I guess the money is running thin there.

    I was always surprised, that this club with very low budget could participate in CL at all - I guess, that Serbian capital Belgrade and/or other public institutions helped them, but now no more. It makes my point, after Prostejov also Vizura gives up for financial reasons - the downhill path of the CL accelerates due to the high costs.

  • Remember, tomorrow is the drawing of lots for the qualification rounds (and for the CEV Cup and Challenge Cup) - no teams are listed so far on the CEV pages at all, so in many cases it remains a mystery until the DOL, which teams are in the respective competitions - this I never witnessed before, usually the teams were listed at least a week before the DOL.

  • Now the participants of all European Cups are published, DOL is tomorrow as mentioned. The obvious deviations from the expected ones respective formal eligibility are:

    as already known neither Vizura Ruma nor Agel Prostejov are participating anymore for financial reasons. While Prostejov is participating (partly due to win of national cup I guess) now in CEV cup instead, Vizura is not playing at all European Cups.

    Because Volero Le Cannet uses the French club license, not the Swiss Volero Zürich license anymore, they play now only Challenge Cup as expected; no Swiss team will participate in pool stage nor qualification (what is reasonabel, they are by far to weak for it).

    Slovenian champions Nova Branik MARIBOR were not pleading for a CL berth to inherit one of the three unused (and plays also CEV cup), but both Minchanka MINSK (despite special allowance to play in Russian superleague, they are still Belorus (champions) team) and Maritza PLOVDIV from Bulgaria used this chance. Even new Finnish champions HPK Hämeenlinna are getting one of the three not accepted pool stage slots, the last one...

    The next teams are the qualification participants. There are the expected four strongest on board and the only remarkable one otherwise are Hungarian champions Linamar BEKESCSABAI, which may pose a real threat in second round against one of the four mentioned. The others should be out very early in the ko rounds. Likely are decisive duels of Budowlani Lodz against Stuttgart and Alba Blaj against Mulhouse for the two qualification berths for pool stage, as no one is defeated by Bekescsabai.

    Regretfully for example Olympiacos PIRAEUS didn't opt for qualification rounds and will stay in Challenge cup, not even playing CEV cup (which I would have expected).

  • Now the Drawing of Lots was performed, and obviously the CEV divided the just nine teams in three categories before: the four strongest from the leagues of Poland, France, Romania and Germany, than three medium teams, also only beginning in round two, and the two weakest playing first round against each other (Sliedrecht/NED and Graz/AUT). The only potentially threatening team from Hungary (Bekescsabai) is second round opponent of Polish Budowlani LODZ, the winner of this one will likely meet ASPTT MULHOUSE, because they are clear-cut favourites against BRCKO (Bosnia-Herzegowina). The other duel for one of the two CL pool stage berths will see Allianz MTV STUTTGART as slight (return match in Stuttgart) favourite against Romanian vice champions Alba BLAJ, because Stuttgart plays the survivor of first round duel and Alba Blaj has also only Czech team Olomouc as opponent, which are not strong enough to pose a real threat. But at the end Lodz, Stuttgart, Alba Blaj and Mulhouse are as expected the ones, which have real chances to get one of the both slots in CL pools.

  • Today I recognized the appearance of the first team pictures on the CEV CL site: Stuttgart, Sliedrecht and Graz have now one. On the Stuttgart picture some players are still missing due to NT campaigns, an "issue" not shared by Sliedrecht and Graz of course. Interestingly only on the Sliedrecht picture the CL sign is visible on the shirts and it looks not different to the one used last season. This comes somewhat as surprise, because CEV launched a competition for a new one, but it seems, that it will take one year more to install/use it?

  • Any idea about how the ranking will be for other european cups? I hope they fuse CEV cup and Challenge cup and make a group stage there too.

    Honestly, I have no idea about that. The only thing I read at last, was that Italian men's champion Perugia declined participation with wildcard as Conegliano did the last time, because they didn't want to pay the "fee" of 100,000 US $. In countries with high level of integrity this kind of payment is called just bribery, by the way.

  • The rankings for CEV and Challenge CUP are weird...

    I think only local federations know the details.

    According to the polish press, polish men league has only one spot in CEV Cup and zero in Challenge Cup, polish women league has only one spot in Challenge Cup (zero in CEV Cup).

  • Today the CEV CL website

    CEV CL anchor page

    published first team rosters and team pictures (be aware, that they are partly from last year, others not showing all players, especially not those, who are on the road with their NTs) and the first and most second round match dates and times are also available. Expect, that the team pages are now quickly growing...