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10/04/2021 15:55
Guidetti: "Conegliano will make #SuperFinals challenge difficult, but really exciting too"
CEV Champions League Volley 2021 - Women

Luxembourg, April 10, 2021. Since Giovanni Guidetti joined VakifBank Istanbul as their coach almost 13 years ago, the Turkish team have continuously appeared in the CEV Champions League Volley competition. The upcoming Super Finals will be the eighth occasion for Guidetti to lead his team to win the gold medal, with VakifBank succeeding four times in their history. The Turkish powerhouse is set to face A. Carraro Imoco Volley Conegliano - a team that VakifBank met in the final stage of Champions League twice before and both times took home the gold medal. But Giovanni Guidetti expects a much tougher challenge this time around… 

VakifBank Istanbul delivered an exemplary performance, finishing on top of the Pool C and losing only two sets. Their form continued throughout the Quarter-Finals, where they beat Grupa Azoty Chemik Police twice, despite Guidetti’s concern about the Polish club. The trouble finally came in the form of Italian Unet e-work BUSTO ARSIZIO during the Semi-finals. “Before we played against Busto Arsizio, we had not faced many problems. We were not ready to face a team that never gives up. We led 2-0 in the first match and then we made a few mistakes in the third set. The Italians were ready to put us in big trouble. We were unprepared for this situation, for this level of good quality volleyball and their level of fighting,” Guidetti recalls the tie-break loss VakifBank suffered in the first semi-final.

The initial defeat turned out to be a crucial lesson ahead of the final stage of Champions League. “This loss was magical, it brought us back to the reality that we are a strong team, but we are not the only strong team in the world. We’ve learned a lot from the lesson Busto Arsizio gave us. We know what it means to play against a high level Italian team and they are one of them. For sure it helped to play Busto Arsizio, but the difference between them and Conegliano is pretty big.

Giovanni Guidetti talks with his setter Maja Ognjenovic during a time-out break. 

VakifBank and Conegliano met in the Final Four of Champions League in 2017 and 2018, both times VakifBank ended up succeeding. But according to Guidetti, the odds are on the Italian side this time round. “This team is one of the strongest I ever coached in VakifBank in the last few years. We always believe in ourselves and our chance to win any final. But we know that in front of us there is a team that right now is stronger than us. Conegliano play beautiful volleyball, they basically don’t have any weak points. They have great high ball and a very well organised block and defense. They have Paola Egonu, who is one of the best. Conegliano are the big favourite of this final,” explains Guidetti.

Egonu was one of the reasons that VakifBank lost in the Champions League semi-finals in 2019, when she was part of the Igor Gorgonzola NOVARA squad. That was one of the reasons why Guidetti jokingly admitted in the past, during an Unscripted interview with CEV, that he doesn’t like to play against her. That sentiment hasn’t changed this season. “If you speak with any football coach, all of them would say that they don’t like to play against Ronaldo,” he laughs. “She’s a unique player right now. She does something different than any other player in the world and is very difficult to stop - she has power and angles that are really unique. Egonu is right now the best scorer in the world. Plus she’s not surrounded by bad players in Conegliano.

But VakifBank will not be going to the Super Finals empty handed, with their own Isabelle Haak becoming second best scorer of this competition with 203 points. Guidetti doesn’t need rankings or statistics to acknowledge her contribution to the Turkish club. “When I saw her the first time, I thought immediately this is the player I want to coach in VakifBank. Haak is at the moment one of the top three opposites in the world, without a doubt. And unlike Tijana Boskovic or Paola Egonu, she is not playing in tournaments like the European Championship, Volleyball Nations League or World Championship. Boskovic and Egonu play there every year and in all of those events they’re are winning medals. Bella is reaching this level just playing in the club. I’m super happy and proud of what she is bringing to Vakifbank. Bella is surprising me every day more than the day before. I won’t be shocked if she surprises me again, in her first Super Finals,” said Guidetti when asked about Haak. 

Giovanni Guidetti and his coaching staff celebrate reaching #SuperFinals 

There will be no surprises from their opponent either, according to the coach. “They don’t have to surprise me any more. They will play pretty good and it will be their second Super Final, so their motivation will be incredible. I know they will be at their best mental and physical condition. We have to be the same if we want to compete against them. That makes our Super Final challenge really difficult, but because of that also really exciting.

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