Osmany Juantorena, Yoandy Leal and Robertlandy Simon form the core of Lube Civitanova's strong team
Betim, Brazil, December 4, 2019 – The year of 2019 has been virtually flawless for Italy’s Cucine Lube Civitanova so far. The team triumphed in both the Italian League and European Champions League and is currently facing its most important challenge in the season, the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship in Betim, Brazil.
A key piece in the Italian success this year, outside hitter Osmany Juantorena has a highly-successful background in the competition as the Italian star is a four-time champion and two-time silver medallist and was awarded the MVP prizes of the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2017 editions.
The 34-year-old outside hitter, who joined the Italian powerhouse in 2015, is looking to add icing to that cake in Brazil and his team have started their campaign in good shape with a convincing 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 25-13) win over Qatar’s Al-Rayyan Sports Club.
“To end the season with the world title would be just perfect,” Juantorena explained. “To win the Club World Championships, it would be a huge accomplishment for us this season. And to me, personally, it would be my fifth title, but that’s not something I’m really focused on, all I want is that the team does well.”
The Italian team's successful season has had a special taste for the veteran. A member of the Italian national team which won silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics, Juantorena was born in Cuba, like two of his teammates, 31-year-old outside hitter Yoandy Leal, who plays for the Brazilian national team, and 32-year-old middle blocker Robertlandy Simon.
“It’s been really special and exciting to have them in the team this season,” the player remarked. “They’re like brothers to me and to see them playing at such a high level, it’s a pleasure. Cuban volleyball has always developed great players and they’re writing their stories and showing that that’s still the case.”
Juantorena is a four-time winner at the Men's Club World Championship
In Betim, Lube will try to overcome hosts Sada Cruzeiro Volei, Russia’s Zenit Kazan and Qatar’s Al-Rayyan Sports Club in the hunt for the gold medal. The Italian club has reached the gold medal match in both times it took part in the competition, in 2017 and 2018, but had to settle for silver on both occasions.
“I feel we’re ready to play,” the Italian star reflected. “It’s an amazing tournament, with great teams. The fact that we took silver the last two years certainly gives us more motivation now. But it’s going to be tough. I think Zenit, Sada Cruzeiro and Lube could be considered as the favorites to win, but whoever takes it, it will be decided in the details.”