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20/02/2020 14:50
Women's Champions League repeat of 2019 final now on the cards for 2020
#CLVolleyW: Quarterfinal matchup analysis

Luxembourg, February 20, 2020. Huge matchups emerged for the quarterfinals of the 2020 Women's European Champions League here on Thursday afternoon following a highly anticipated drawing of lots, including a double feature in the continuing Turkish - Italian rivalry.

Article by Constantine Dimaras - CEV External Writer

The quarterfinals not only feature the exact same teams that made it to the last eight of last year's edition. Following the drawing of lots, the 2019 finalists Igor Gorgonzola Novara and A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano are on a collision course for the final and could well meet again in an all-Italian clash at Berlin's Max-Schmeling-Halle on 16 May.

To get there, however, in the quarterfinals, defending European champions Novara will need to overcome Fenerbahce Opet Istanbul, who themselves are after returning to the top of the podium for the second time in their history, eight years after their success in 2012.

The winner of this first Turco-Italian clash would then have to face either record 11-time European champions Dinamo Moscow or VakifBank Istanbul.

This is a rematch of last year's quarterfinals, when Dinamo prevailed at home in the Russian capital in five sets, but lost the return leg in Istanbul in three, as VakifBank advanced to the 2019 semi-finals (only to lose out on a spot in the final after a 'golden set' against Conegliano).

Dinamo have not been crowned European champions since 1977 (though they did come close in 2007 and 2009 - on both occasions losing in the final to Italy's Foppapedretti Bergamo in five sets).

VakifBank, on the other hand, have been crowned European Champions four times - last time just two years ago.

The matchup pits some of the competition's best scorers so far against each other: Nataliya Goncharova who on average is top of the competition with 6.53 points per set for Dinamo, and Sweden's Isabelle Haak who has been bagging 5.95 per set for VakifBank and sits at number three on the overall list.

Igor Gorgonzola Novara and A. Carraro Imoco Conegliano lined up to start the 2019 Women's European Champions League final. The two Italian sides could potentially meet again in this year's final, following the drawing of lots for the knockout stage of the competition, Thursday in Luxembourg.

In the bottom part of the quarterfinals draw Savino Del Bene Scandicci take on Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul in the other Turco-Italian battle.

But Scandicci who first appeared in the Champions League last year should be weary of Turkish opposition. They were knocked out last year in the quarterfinals by Fenerbahce, after losing both legs, 3-1 and 3-2.

It will, nevertheless, be interesting to see how Eczacibasi, the 2015 European champions, can cope with the absence of two of their key players, Hande Baladin and Korea's Kim Yeon-Koung who are both out of commission on injuries.

The second- and third-best blockers of the Champions League so far feature in this matchup, with Eczacibasi's Yasemin Güveli against Scandicci's Jovana Stevanovic of Serbia - both with 22 stuffs in absolute numbers, though Güveli has a slight edge on average per set with 1.10 to 0.96.

Whoever wins, though will come up against either MTV Allianz Stuttgart or reigning world champions Conegliano in the semifinals.

With back-to-back Champions League quarterfinal appearances, Stuttgart are now the most successful German team since the country's reunification - Traktor Schwerin, of former East Germany, having won the only title in 1978.

It was to another Italian side that Stuttgart fell to in last year's quarterfinals, losing both legs to Novara.

Conegliano are eyeing their fourth straight top-four appearance, after picking up silver and bronze in 2017 and 2018, respectively and finishing runners-up to Novara last year.

Click here for further information on CEV Champions League Volley 2020.

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