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07/12/2017 09:30
Three more classy matches to cap opening round of #CLVolleyM group stage
2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League - Men

Luxembourg, December 7, 2017. The opening round of play in the group stage of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Men ends on Thursday with three matches including a highly anticipated Russian derby featuring 2013 gold medal winners Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK and 2010 runners-up Dinamo MOSCOW. The gold medallists from the 2007 edition, Germany’s VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN will be trying to use the home court advantage in their matchup with Halkbank ANKARA while Fenerbahce SK ISTANBUL take on Belgium’s reigning national champions Knack ROESELARE in the other fixture of the day. 

Picture:
Athanasios Protopsaltis will be one of the players to keep an eye on on Thursday night when VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN host Halkbank ANKARA

Fenerbahce SK ISTANBUL (TUR) vs. Knack ROESELARE (BEL)


•    Fenerbahce SK have made it to the group stage after claiming two easy wins in their 3rd Round matches with Austria’s Posojilnica AICH/DOB.
•    Knack ROESELARE are the reigning Belgian national champions.
•    These teams will very much need a victory from this game as they feature in the ‘pool of death’ starring Italian powerhouses Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA and Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA.

Veljko Basic, head coach of Fenerbahçe: “We are in the one of toughest groups of the Champions League. We will fight with two powerful teams like PERUGIA and Lube, who are vying for the title this year. PERUGIA are unbeaten in the Italian national league. ROESELARE, on the other hand, are the reigning Belgian national champions and this team has national and quality players. My first expectation about these games is that we will be fighting as much as we did in the Arkas game and we will win our first game against ROESELARE. We want to play well all of the matches we contest here in Istanbul. We know we can do it because we did it against TRENTINO last year [in the CEV Cup]. The teams we will meet this year are more powerful than last year.

“I want all our players to play in these matches so that they will gain lots of experience. Especially Metin Toy, Izzet Ünver and our two liberos. This is my biggest expectation. This experience will provide them with a different vision of the game and have a positive effect in the future. Our fans supported us great in the home match with Posojilnica. We always feel their support and energy. We want them to support us in the same way in the match with ROESELARE.”

Selçuk Keskin, player of Fenerbahçe: “We are very happy to be in the Champions League. Our competitors are powerful. We will fight with two Italian teams that played the Final Four last year. The Belgian team is powerful too and they have been playing in the Champions League for years. We are aware of the difficulty of our group but we could not play in the Champions League for three years so we are very excited and happy. The first game will be difficult. There is no doubt about that but we want to win our first match with the help of our fans and make a great start. Our first goal is to progress to the next round. If we can achieve this, we want to go as far as we can go. The Champions League is a dream for all players. We want to live it in the best possible way and represent our club at the highest level.”

Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK (RUS) vs. Dinamo MOSCOW (RUS)

•    Dinamo MOSCOW is the oldest Russian Volleyball club, established back in 1926.
•    The match between Lokomotiv and Dinamo in the Russian championship back in September ended in a 3-1 victory for the Muscovites.
•    Last week, Lokomotiv lost in the semis of the Russian national cup (1-3) to eventual winners Zenit KAZAN.
•    Dinamo MOSCOW failed to make it to the final stage of the Russian national cup for the first time since 2003 – when the status of this competition rose significantly since it previously took place in the pre-season and without players involved with the national team.
•    Boris Kolchin has replaced Yury Marichev at the helm of Dinamo – so there has been a major change in the team since the beginning of the season.

Valentin Golubev, player of Lokomotiv NOVOSIBIRSK: “Dinamo have not been showing high-quality Volleyball recently, but nevertheless they remain a team counting on many great players. They especially play ‘high balls’ and therefore we will have to adjust our block accordingly in order to cope with this. However, we will be doing our best in order to emerge victorious from this match. I have no doubt that it will be an interesting and thrilling match. We are at the beginning of the Champions League, a competition we have not played for years, so we really want to please our fans with a victory.”

Yury Berezhko, player of Dinamo MOSCOW: “The change in the coaching staff has had a positive effect and we have been preparing very carefully for the matchup with Lokomotiv. We have changed the way we work and we focus on what we do on the court more than on the physical preparation. We are trying to get rid of our mistakes, especially since at the beginning of the national league we showed a lot of roughness and made mistakes, which are unusual for our team. It does not matter where we stand in the current classification of the national league, it is important that we show a quality performance so that we start feeling more confident about ourselves.”

VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN (GER) vs. Halkbank ANKARA (TUR)

•    VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN are still unbeaten this season. They have won seven consecutive matches in the Bundesliga, claimed the Supercup, reached the semis in the German Cup and made it to the group stage of the Champions League with two straight victories over Bulgaria’s Neftohimic 2010 BURGAS.
•    VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN have a balanced team – with one rising star. Their Greek hitter Athanasios Protopsaltis has received the MVP honours six times out of seven Bundesliga matches he has contested this season so far.
•    VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN and Halkbank ANKARA never met before in the CEV Champions League. It is the first match between the clubs in their history.
•    VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN’s captain Simon Tischer played in Ankara earlier in his career, but for Halkbank’s city rivals Ziraat Bankasi back in 2010.
•    Cheers! Coach Vital Heynen renews the “beer bet”. He promises one free beer to every spectator for taking one point from the game, two for two points and free beer after a straight win for VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN.

Vital Heynen, head coach of VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN: “On paper Halkbank ANKARA is the strongest team in our group. However, if they cannot play to the best of their abilities and we do, we can beat them. Last year, we did not make it to the next round because of one single point. So every point in the group phase is extremely important and winning against ANKARA would be a big achievement for us.”

How to follow the matches...

Watch them live: http://cev.laola1.tv/

Click here for a comprehensive TV schedule.

Live score, statistics, reports and photos: all available on www.cev.lu

Social Media: Follow via the official event hashtag (#CLVolleyM) with the most regular updates coming on our competition Twitter account @CEVolleyballCL

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