Who will stop Perugia? The quarter-finals of the Superleague championship playoffs begin
Andrea Anastasi's team is the favorite for the men's volleyball title. But beware of surprises. They have already arrived in the Coppa Italia this year
Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 March 2023 the first matches of the quarter-finals of the Superlega Scudetto playoffsafter one regular season whose only verdict already written is the relegation to A2 of Emma Villas Aubay Siena, last in the standings. Although some matches have very unbalanced forecasts towards the top-ranking formations, it seems common practice to say, there may be some surprises. If for nothing else, because surprises, at least one, have already been seen in the semi-final and final of the Del Monte Coppa Italia with the triumph of Gas Sales Bluenergy Piacenza.
Currently a non-victory for Perugia would be really unexpected, since, for the rest, the regular season dominated by a Sir Safety who racked up 22 wins from 22 league games, with only 11 sets lost (!), just one win tie break and 12 3-0 victories. Andrea Anastasi's team qualified for the Champions League semi-finals during the season, won the 2022 Super Cup in the final in Cagliari against Lube Civitanova in November, and, above all, won the Club World Cup in Betim in Brazil in December , in the final against Trento.
Until now, Perugia has won every league game by imposing excellent, sometimes impressive statistics: 55 percent in attack, just over 26 percent in reception, which allows Giannelli, a player who really makes a visible difference, to have as many clean balls as possible in directing. And it's the only team that exceeds two aces per set. He will play against an Allianz Milano that has the talent born in 2001 Paolo Porro in directing, finished eighth in the standings, but was a semi-finalist in the Italian Cup, defeated by Trento only at the tie break.
Itas Trentino, second in the standings, is a team with many certainties, starting with the three world champions Riccardo Sbertoli, Daniele Lavia and Alessandro Michieletto. They overcame Modena in the final part of the regular season and have just been defeated in the golden set of the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Zaksa, but have reached the podium in every competition played so far this season (Super Cup, Italian Cup and Club World Cup). So, despite the European disappointment, he's in pretty good shape. He will face Monza, seventh in the standings.
Valsa Group Modena finished third and looks good in the playoffs, despite the overtaking of Trento. At the beginning of the season, the disappointing results had led to fears for a colorless and suffering season, with rumors also about a possible exemption of Andrea Giani, but Modena instead became the protagonist of a surprising climb, thanks to a square where volleyball is always more central than elsewhere, and a team that brings together the experience and class of champions such as Ngapeth and captain Bruno, bronze medalist in the last World Cup, and youngsters from the generational change taking place in the Superlega (Giani himself acknowledged to De Giorgi that he had the first step in this sense) who play at a high level, like the 2001 Tommaso Rinaldi. In Europe they reached the final of the Cev Cup, the second most important continental competition, from which Gas Sales Blue Energy Piacenza was eliminated in the other semifinal, their opponent in the playoffs in an Emilian derby which is probably the least obvious challenge. Piacenza was the only one to steal a trophy from Perugia this year, it has renewed a lot and can field three world champions such as Leonardo Scanferla, Francesco Recine and Yuri Romanò, protagonist in the last international events with the blue shirt, as well as Robertlandy Simón, Cuban centre-back again in his debut shirt in Italy.
The draw closes with the match between the reigning champion Lube Civitanova and an opponent who can prove to be as annoying as she is ambitious like Verona. Civitanova, just eliminated in the golden set of the quarter-finals of the Champions League, is a very expert team, which lines up De Cecco in the direction, Bottolo and the 2003 Alex Nikolov in the band, and the best libero of the last world championships Fabio Balaso, but during the season has alternated excellent performances with unexpected falls. Verona, on the other hand, is the youngest formation in the Superlega and, with a 53.5 percent positive attack percentage, second only to Perugia, puts its three starting spikers Sapozhkov, Keita and Mozic in the top ten spikers, so far, of the League.