CEV Champions League Volley 2022 | Men
CEV Champions League Volley 2022 | Men
Three-time Champions League winners, Trentino Itas hope to finally regain the European crown after eleven years since their last title. After losing the Super Final in Verona to Grupa Azoty Kędzierzyn Koźle in 2021, they will have a chance for revenge, as these teams will lock horns again in Ljubljana on 22 May. With a refreshed squad powered by young Italian superstar Alessandro Michieletto, the team went a long and turbulent road to the SuperFinals hoping to conclude the season with victory in Europe's elite club competition.
Trentino Itas is definitely one of the most prominent and decorated European clubs. Four-time Italian champions were also crowned the FIVB Club World Champions on as many as five occasions. This season, in December 2021 in Brazil, they earned their third bronze medal won at this event. After winning the three consecutive editions of the Champions League (2009-2011) and having two silver (2016, 2021) and one bronze (2012) under their belt, they are naturally always among the favourites on the European stage. Especially that they can always boast with star-studded squad. Like Zaksa, Trentino Itas had several changes in their roster on key positions. The team under the guidance of coach Angelo Lorenzetti is a mixture of experience and youthful power that might be considered as a perfect combination. Experienced Serbian middle blockers Marko Podraščanin and Srećko Lisinac have been joined by – returning to Trentino's squad – Matey Kaziyski. The next significant change came on playmaking duty - 23-year old Riccardo Sbertoli took this role replacing Simone Gianneli. Giulio Pinali, Daniele Lavia, Wout D'Heer and libero Julian Zenger have also been newcomers to the Italian club. And although, they 'lost' the best scorer of the previous edition - Nimir Abdel Aziz, it's again Trentino's player having this honour on the road to Super Finals, as Michieletto plays in a class of his own.
On the road to Ljubljana, Trentino Itas played as many as 41 sets (9 more than Zaksa, who also played two games less). In the pool stage they suffered two defeats, as they couldn't find a way to stop their domestic rivals from Perugia, even if in October they eliminated them in the semi-finals of the Italian SuperCup. Later, in the knockout stage, they produced many dramatic battles, but they emerged victorious, proving better than Berlin Recycling Volleys and outplaying Perugia in a nail-biting semi-finals that ended in the Golden Set. On the Italian stage, Lorenzetti's squad enjoyed a perfect start to the 2021/2022 season as they triumphed in the Italian SuperCup. In the Italian Serie A, they completed the regular season with 17W-7L record, they fought hard in the semi-finals with Lube, but after a five-match-battle it was Lube to progress to the final, once Trentino finished 3rd. In the meantime, they had to accept one more upset from Perugia, who beat them in a thrilling final of the Italian Cup. Obviously, a bronze medal from the FIVB Club World Championships is also one of the highlights from this season. Although, the players struggled with health problems and on a way to the Super Final they had some ups and downs, they managed to deliver some outstanding performances and reach the Champions League final for the sixth time.
Trentino's players have been highly productive scorers. The team in total scored 682 points, delivering 60 aces, 122 block stuffs (the highest ratio per set - 2.98!) and 508 winning spikes. In addition, Lorenzetti's squad recorded 51% success in attack (2% less than Zaksa). Alessandro Michieletto has been a leading force of Trentino as he contributed with 168 points (4.42 set average) and was the second best server with 20 aces, one less than Leon. Considering how similar the stats of both teams look, the details might be decisive, and a block can be a key to success. Especially that Zaksa will perform in Ljubljana without their top blocker - Norbert Huber, once Trentino has as many as three players among the top seven blockers - Daniele Lavia is 3rd with 24 stuffs, Marko Podraščanin is ranked 6th (20) and Srećko Lisinac 7th (19). In addition, Riccardo Sbertoli impressed with his playmaking performance, recording the highest efficiency among the first setters (60.87% to 51.55% by Marcin Janusz), he also scored 30 points by himself. His skills and ability to play under pressure were recognised with MVP awards this season and might be crucial in such important match.