The most tantalising quarter-final face-off in the CEV Cup has been dubbed the Polish battle between “Zawiercie” and “Resovia Rzeszow”. Following the triumph of Giampaolo Medei's squad on their home court at the “Podpromie” sports and entertainment complex, anticipation is growing as the "Jurassic Knights" need to regroup and win the return match, where a score of (3:1) would manage, although a clean victory would be ideal.
Attention towards “Zawiercie” remains elevated, as this southern Polish club presents a formidable force in this current season, endeavouring to shine in all competitions.
The loss (0:3) to “Resovia Rzeszow” continues to baffle, with many initially expecting an unblemished victory from the "Jurassic Knights". Something initially went awry for Michal Winiarski, who did not foresee the successful combinations from the opposition, nor their diagonals easily penetrating his players' blocks. A long-awaited defeat for “Zawiercie” finally came, albeit at an unfortunate timing in critical matches, and was followed by a casual triumph over “Czarni Radom” in the Plus League.
“Zawiercie” boasts an impressively synergistic line-up. Looking to bolster their attack, Karol Butryn will again be put on the offensive - it would be great to see reliable defence in the showdown with “Resovia Rzeszow”, so Miguel Tavares Rodrigues must be spot-on in his role and Libero Luke Perry won't, hopefully, falter on the backline.
Michal Winiarski's players have the potential to prevail in the return match against “Resovia Rzeszow”, provided they avoid a total collapse similar to the first game, which saw the entire squad largely unrecognisable.
Giampaolo Medei's troops left a pleasant impression in the first match against “Zawiercie” in the CEV Cup quarterfinals. Particularly after suffering two consecutive losses in the Plus League, the players of “Resovia Rzeszow” seem to have propelled themselves boldly, failing to outmanoeuvre direct competitors, including Michal Winiarski's team, and ending up deflated in the confrontation with “Jastrzebski Wegiel”.
The win against “Zawiercie” in the CEV Cup does not guarantee “Resovia Rzeszow” a semi-final slot, but it undoubtedly instils a psychological advantage. The key question is: how so? They must not let their guard down in the return match, considering the consistently commendable form of the opposition this season, having managed numerous 3:0 scores; in this case, 3:1 in favour of “Zawiercie” would suffice.
In the Plus League, “Resovia Rzeszow” practically overcame “Kedzierzyn-Kozle” with ease in the previous round, experiencing a slight hiccup only in the third set. Even then, Medei's players projected confidence, despite lagging in score.
“Resovia Rzeszow” possesses a powerful line-up. Always performing at utmost capacity, Steven Boyer deserves a mention, as does Jakub Kochanowski for his commendable efforts. The Polish defender takes on a significant chunk of the work, becoming a central figure in his team on the court in any match.
Giampaolo Medei’s players need not rest on their laurels but instead strive to entirely exclude playing by the score, otherwise, “Zawiercie” could seize the initiative and push the confrontation into a golden set.
In this season's Plus League, “Resovia Rzeszow” and “Zawiercie” have both overcome one another. Still, what matters is their performance in the CEV Cup and whether Michal Winiarski's team will exact revenge for their defeat in “Podpromie”.
The favourites here are Zawiercie, who need a (3:0) or (3:1) victory. Winiarski's players are likely to come through, so I'll opt for the clear win.