Friedrichshafen is a new victim of Zenit’s domination in Russia and Europe

Yesterday Zenit-Kazan was due to play the third match of the Champions League group stage against German Friedrichshafen. The game took place in Germany. Realnoe Vremya tells about twists and turns of the match and Kazan players' performances in this season.

Domination in Russia

Zenit is almost unbeatable in this season – it lost only four matches out of 37 games. Considering that two of them were at the beginning of the season in the Russian Cup when Kazan players fielded their second team and the other two defeats were inflicted by Sada Cruzeiro in the Club World Championship, we can only be mutely afraid. Nowadays there are 33 victories of which 28 (!) ended with 3:0.

The statistics in the Russian Championships is amazing. At the moment 15 matches of Men's Superleague were held. Zenit won 15 victories, 12 wins were absolute. It seems that there is nothing special. But its closest rivals Dynamo-Moscow and Lokomotiv-Novosibirsk have only 4 wins each. Here is the crazy set statistics – 45-4(!). Kazan players just don't have rivals in the championship.

Source: zenit-kazan.com

What is more, this state of affairs has not appeared for the first time. Together with the previous season, Zenit's series of victories has been lasting for 37 (!) matches. This is the Russian Championship only. But it can tell a lot about the level of the Russian volleyball competition. It is not our business, so to speak. Zenit is dominating in Russia. It is leading and insulting at times.

Volleyball Europe is almost Russia

It might seem that the competition in the Champions League is better because it is a European level. Kazan players have lost only two matches in the last two seasons from 2014 to 2016. And those did not affect the outcome of performances of Vladimir Alekno's guys – two champion titles. This season of the major European tournament of the Old World is not an exception – two easy victories against Arkas Spor and Paris Volley.

Setter of Zenit Igor Kobzar hoped to see a greater opposition from the champions of countries: ''We prepare for the Champions League in a special way, more than for the domestic championships,'' Igor Kobzar did not understand the level of their rivals. ''It turns out that there is no any strong opposition in Turkey and here against Paris. I hope we will have it, and games will be more tense. So game will be more interesting for fans.''

Crate of beer for victory over Zenit

German Friedrichshafen was Zenit's next rival in the Champions League. The team also won the Champions League, but it was in 2007. The team is also a 13-time champion of Germany and winner of the country's cup.

Head coach of the German club Vital Heynen did not believe much in a victory of his players against Zenit. At the same time, he offered a crate of beer for every player in case of victory against Kazan players: ''It's quite a good result to score 20 points in one set against Zenit. That shows how dominant the Russians are. For every set we win I will buy one beer for everyone in the gym. If we win the game, everybody will get a whole crate of beer. We are looking forward to hosting Zenit Kazan and maybe we have a surprise in store.''

Head coach of the German club Vital Heynen did not believe much in a victory of his players against Zenit. Photo: vfb-volleyball.de

In general, it was not the first game of the teams. The match was going to be the 11 th in the competition history. The first match was when Zenit was called Dynamo-Tattransgaz. Friedrichshafen managed to win the Kazan club once in the 2011/12 Champions League season. The win did not have any importance, of course. And the victory was not very convincing – 3-2. Friedrichshafen often meets other Russian clubs – there were matches against Dynamo-Moscow and Lokomotiv-Belogorie.

In this season, having defeated Paris volley and lost against Arkas Spor, Friedrichshafen has taken second place in Group C at the moment. Both games ended 3:2. Outside hitter David Sossenheimer became the most remarkable player of the German team in these games.

In the domestic championship, Friedrichshafen is a confident leader who won its major rival in this season Berlin – 3-0. Despite the score, the fight in that match was tough. In the German Cup, the team reached the final where it will also play against Berlin.

Even if it has titles and power at the national level, Friedrichshafen was unlikely to oppose the four-time winner of the Champions League. Even bookmakers thought that Zenit would wallop the German club. One could put Alekno's players 1,03. Friedrichshafen's success was estimated at 9,01. If in football we could dream about the outsider's victory, it is unlikely in volleyball.

Even bookmakers thought that Zenit would wallop the German club. Photo: Roman Kruchinin (zenit-kazan.com)

By Aleksandr Lushkin
Sports