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Team rosters: Men's Club World Championship boasts stellar line-ups

Maxim Mikhaylov of Zenit Kazan during the 2019 CEV Champions League final in May (Photo: CEV)
Lausanne, Switzerland, November 18, 2019 – The rosters of the four clubs participating in the upcoming men’s 2019 FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship in Betim, Brazil have been confirmed. 

From December 3 through 8, the court at the Ginasio Poliesportivo Divino Ferreira Braga will set the scene for the best of club volleyball featuring some of the world’s leading players.

Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova, who were runners-up at the last two editions of the competition, will be captained by Cuban-born Osmany Juantorena, arguably the most decorated player in the history of the Club World Championships.

Juantorena is a four-time champion and two-time silver medallist, the MVP of the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2017 editions, was voted Best Spiker in 2010 and 2011 and Best Server in 2009. Among his many other achievements are a 2016 Olympic silver with Italy and three titles and three MVP awards in Europe’s CEV Champions League.

His teammate Yoandy Leal, also Cuban-born, and a reigning 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup champion with Brazil, has won three gold, two silver and one bronze medal at the Club World Championships and four individual awards. He was voted MVP in 2015 and claimed Best Outside Hitter spots on three Dream Teams.

Another Cuban-born star playing for Lube, middle blocker Robertlandy Simon, has four Club World Championship medals to his name – one gold, two silver and one bronze – and has been named on the Dream Team three times, including at the last two editions of the competition.

Brazilian setter Bruno Rezende is also a key player in Lube’s lineup. He is a three-time Olympic medallist and a Rio 2016 champion, a 2010 world champion, a two-time winner of the World Cup, three-time winner of the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup and a multiple gold medallist from other major international tournaments, but has never won a Club World Championship crown.

Mateusz Bienek, reigning world champion with Poland, and Iranian star Amir Ghafour are new additions to Lube’s roster this season.

Cucine Lube Civitanova - Players

The other European club set to play at this year's Men's Club World Championship, Russia’s Zenit Kazan, are also heading to Brazil with a stellar squad, led by captain Alexander Butko, a gold medallist and Best Setter of the 2017 Club World Championship and silver medallist in 2013 and 2016. Butko is a 2012 Olympic champion with Russia and has gold medals from the 2011 World Cup and the 2017 European Championship, as well as four titles and one Best Setter award from the Champions League.

Two world-class spikers will be competing for the opposite’s position in Zenit’s line-up – Maxim Mikhaylov and new Bulgarian addition Tsvetan Sokolov.

Mikhaylov was part of the squads that won the club’s last four Club World Championship medals, himself claiming the 2015 Best Opposite and the 2011 Best Scorer individual awards, and has eight Champions League medals to his name. The Russian international was also a gold medallist, Best Scorer and Best Spiker at the 2012 Olympics and bronze medallist at the 2008 Olympics, among many other honours accumulated with his national team.

Tsvetan Sokolov, who transferred from Lube to Zenit this season, boasts three gold, two silver and one bronze medal, as well as three Dream Team spots on his Club World Championship record, in addition to seven podiums in the Champions League.

Earvin Ngapeth, the big star of the French national team and arguably one of the most spectacular players in the world, is the other foreigner on Zenit’s roster. Artem Volvich and Alexey Samoylenko, middle blockers on the Club World Championship Dream Teams in 2016 and 2017, respectively, are other Russians who stand out for Kazan.

Zenit Kazan - Players

South American club champions and hosts of the upcoming Club World Championship, Sada Cruzeiro Volei will rely on the services of 2016 Olympic champion Evandro Guerra. He won the Club World Championship title and picked up the Best Opposite award in 2016, as well as a bronze medal in 2017.

Isac Santos, winner of the 2019 FIVB World Cup and the 2019 South American Championship with Brazil, will be aiming for his fourth Club World Championship gold, after playing for the team from Belo Horizonte in their three previous successful title runs and in 2017, when they won bronze.

“We have a big challenge ahead and we are working hard for it,” Isac told fivb.com. “Betim is a place we know really well and from where we have great memories. I believe that our team has a lot to present at the championship. There will be high-level games. We will face the Russians, the Italians..., and everyone likes to play games like this. We are focused because we are going to play the main championship of the planet and I really want to help Sada Cruzeiro to be champion once again.”

Sada Cruzeiro’s Isac Santos, holding the trophy, and Fernando Kreling, on the right, triumph as 2016 club world champions

The home team will be captained by Filipe Ferraz, who has been with the club since 2010 and has earned all five of Sada Cruzeiro’s Club World Championship medals as well as the six South American Club Championship crowns and all domestic trophies that Sada Cruzeiro have claimed in their club history.

Brazil’s Fernando Kreling, Argentina’s Facundo Conte and Canada’s John Gordon Perrin are among Sada Cruzeiro’s other well known names.

Sada Cruzeiro Volei - Players

Asian Club Championship bronze medallists Al-Rayyan are perhaps the most modest among the four participating teams in terms of featuring high-profile athletes on their roster. The Qatari club has three foreign players in their squad for Betim 2019 – Portuguese international Marco Ferreira, Montenegrin international Marko Vukasinovic and Brazilian talent Marcus Vinicius.

Three of Al-Rayyan’s domestic players have experience from the team’s previous two Club World Championship appearances. Saeed Saad Suliman was on the 2012 squad, Ali Bairami was on the 2014 squad, while Dahi Waleed Mubarak was on both. Al-Rayyan were silver medallists when they last participated in the competition in 2014.

Al-Rayyan Sports Club - Players

Read more: Team rosters: Zhu Ting heads constellation of stars in Women's Club World Championship

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