CEV Champions League 101

Europe’s professional volleyball teams spend most of their seasons competing in their country’s league. You’ve got Italy’s Serie A, Russia’s Super League, Turkey’s simply named Turkish League, and France’s Ligue A, just to name a few.

The CEV Champions League, on the other hand, offers a unique opportunity for the top teams from these national leagues to compete against each other and crown the best professional team on the continent. 

Not only does Champions League feature the best volleyball in the world from October to May, but it’s also a great place to see your favorite Team USA players in action while the national team is in its offseason. 

Admittedly, for the American audience, which is mostly unfamiliar with the CEV Champions League, the format isn’t exactly straightforward, so we’ll do our best to break it down for you. 

The Teams

The 2019 CEV Champions League features 27 women’s teams and 34 men’s, the best-of-the-best from Europe’s most prestigious professional volleyball leagues. 

Women's Teams

Location

Men's Teams

Location

Allianz MTV Stuttgart

Stuttgart, Germany

Abiant Lycurgus Groningen

Groningen, Netherlands

ASPTT Mulhouse VB

Riedisheim, France

ACH Volley Ljubljana

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Beziers VB

Beziers, France

Arkas Izmir

Izmir, Turkey

Budowlani Łódź

Łódź, Poland

Azimut Modena

Modena, Italy

CSM Budowlani Łódź

Łódź, Poland

Berlin Recycling Volleys

Berlin, Germany

Chemik Police

Police, Poland

Chaumont VB 52 HM

Chaumont, France

CSM Volei Alba Blaj

Blaj, Transylvania

Cucine Lube Civitanova

Civitanova Marche, Italy

Dinamo Kazan

Kazan, Russia

CV Teruel

Teruel, Spain

Dinamo Moscow

Moscow, Russia

Dinamo Moscow

Moscow, Russia

Ecazcibasi VitrA Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey

Ford Store Levoranta Sastamala

Sastamala, Finland

Fenerbahce SK Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey

Greenyard Maaseik

Maaseik, Belgium

Hämeenlinna

Hämeenlinna, Finland

Halkbank Ankara

Ankara, Turkey

Igor Gorgonzola Novara

Novara, Italy

Istanbul BBSK

Istanbul, Turkey

Imoco Volley Conegliano

Conegliano, Italy

Knack Roeselare

Roeselare, Belgium

LKS Commercecon Lodz

Łódź, Poland

Lindemans Aalst

Aalst, Belgium

Maritza Plovdiv

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Mladost Zagreb

Zagreb, Croatia

Minchanka Minsk

Minsk, Belarus

Neftohimic 2010 Burgas

Burgas, Bulgaria

RC Cannes

Cannes, France

OK Mladost Brcko

Brčko, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Savino Del Bene Scandicci

Scandicci, Italy

Paok Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki, Greece

Sliedrecht Sport

Sliedrecht, Netherlands

PGE Skra Belchatow

Bełchatów, Poland

SSC Palmberg Schwerin

Schwerin, Germany

Posojilnica AICH/DOB

Bleiburg, Austria

Swietelsky Bekescsaba

Békéscsaba, Hungary

Shakhtior Soligorsk

Soligorsk, Belarus

Uralochka-NTMK Ekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg, Russia

Sir Colussi Sicoma Perugia

Perugia, Italy

UVC Holding Graz

Graz, Austria

Tours VB

Tours, France

VakifBank Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey

Trefl Gdańsk

Gdańsk, Poland

VK UP Olomouc

Olomouc, Czech Republic

United Volleys Frankfurt

Frankfurt, Germany

ZOK Bimal-Jedinstvo Brcko

Brčko, Bosnia and Herzegovina

VfB Friedrichshafen

Friedrichshafen, Germany



Viking TIF Bergen

Bergen, Norway



VK CEZ Karlovarsko

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic



Vojvodina NS Seme Novi Sad

Novi Sad, Serbia



VRCK Kazincbarcika

Kazincbarcika, Hungary



Zaksa Kedzierzyn-Kozle

Kędzierzyn-Koźle, Poland



Zenit Kazan

Kazan, Russia



Zenit Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg, Russia


The Format

This eight-month-long tournament is made up of three rounds of qualification followed by a fourth round, also known as the group stage, and then playoffs. 

The group stage features five pools of four teams and the pools follow a double-round-robin format with each team in the pool playing the other three teams twice, at home and away.

The top eight teams from the group stage advance to the quarterfinals, which is seeded like a traditional eight-team single-elimination tournament, however, each pair of teams still plays two matches, at home and away, to determine which team moves on, until the final round, when the semifinal winners play in the championship match and the losers face off for third place.

Since the men’s and women’s tournaments have different numbers of teams, the qualification rounds look slightly different, however, in both tournaments, 18 teams earn an automatic berth into the group stage (fourth round) and the final two teams in the group stage are determined through the qualification rounds.

Here’s another way to look at it: 

Women's CEV CL

Dates

Format

# of Teams

# of Matches

# of Advancing Teams

1st Round (Qualification)

10/9 - 10/17

Single opponent, home & away

2

2

1

2nd Round (Qualification)

10/23 - 10/31

Single opponent, home & away

8

8

4

3rd Round (Qualification)

11/6 - 11/22

Single opponent, home & away

4

4

2

4th Round (Group Stage)

11/20 - 2/26

5 pools of 4 teams; Double round robin, home & away

20

60 (12 per pool)

8

Quarterfinals

3/12 - 3/21

Home and away

8

8

4

Semifinals

4/2 - 4/11

Home and away

4

4

2

Finals

5/18

1st-place and 3rd-place matches

4

2

NA


Men's CEV CL

Dates

Format

# of Teams

# of Matches

# of Advancing Teams

1st Round (Qualification)

10/9 - 10/17

Single opponent, home & away

16

16

8

2nd Round (Qualification)

10/23 - 10/31

Single opponent, home & away

8

8

4

3rd Round (Qualification)

11/6 - 11/22

Single opponent, home & away

4

4

2

4th Round (Group Stage)

11/20 - 2/26

5 pools of 4 teams; Double round robin, home & away

20

60

8

Quarterfinals

3/12 - 3/21

Home and away

8

8

4

Semifinals

4/2 - 4/11

Home and away

4

4

2

Finals

5/19

1st-place and 3rd-place matches

4

2

NA

Where We Are Now

Right now, we’re in the midst of the second round of qualification. On the women’s side, Sliedrecht Sport eliminated UVC Holding Graz in the first round. The first round of the men’s tournament saw OK Mladost Brcko, Mladost Zagreb, Viking TIF Bergen, Lindemans Aalst, Abiant Lycurgus Groningen, Shakhtior Soligorsk, Ford Store Levoranta Sastamala, and VRCK Kazincbarcika be eliminated. 

The women’s matchups currently going on in the second round are: VK UP Olomouc vs. CSM Volei Alba Blaj; Sliedrecht Sport vs. Allianz MTV Stuttgart; ZOK Bimal-Jedinstvo Brcko vs. ASPTT Mulhouse VB; and Swietelsky Bekescsaba vs. Budowlani Łódź. 

On the men’s side the ongoing matchups are: Neftohimic 2010 Burgas vs. Vojvodina NS Seme Novi Sad; CV Teruel vs. Chaumont VB 52 HM; United Volleys Frankfurt vs. Posojilnica AICH/DOB; and Paok Thessaloniki vs. Istanbul BBSK. 

The second round wraps up on Wednesday, Oct. 31, and only four teams from each gender will move on to the third round in hopes of securing the two available spots in the group stage.

The CEV season for both the men and women streams LIVE on FloVolleyball.

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