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Excitement mounting in Rome ahead of Men's World Championship

From left to right: Yuichi Nakagaichi, coach of Japan, captain Masahiro Yanagida, Ivan Zaytsev and Gianlorenzo Blengini, captain and coach of Italy, respectively.
Rome, Italy, September 8, 2018 – Italy and Japan look forward to a truly historic match as these teams will be taking to the court on Sunday night at 19:30 CET for the opening game of the FIVB Men’s Volleyball World Championship 2018 at the truly iconic Foro Italico in Rome. A crowd of more than 10,000 fans including the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, will come together for a history-making match that will set the tone for a competition lasting three weeks until the 2018 world champions will emerge in Turin on September 30.

Gianlorenzo Blengini, head coach of Italy: “This is a one-of-a-kind experience, especially with the audience behind us. We will start the tournament in a good way; we do not feel any pressure since we feel ready. We obviously feel the excitement is mounting but my players are extremely motivated and they are willing to catch a flying start to the tournament. We have analysed what happened in the VNL where we lost to Japan. That loss came at a very different stage of the season, we have been working very hard since then but I am sure they have done just the same. A World Championship on home soil will be a boost to the whole Volleyball family in Italy and to play the first match in Rome at Foro Italico is an extra motivation in itself. We have built this team to be able to compete with any opponent and it is obvious that we have high expectations and ambitious goals. Nevertheless, we have to remain down-to-earth and we will take it one match at a time. After the opening match in Rome we will be playing another four matches in Florence and we want to make it to the second round with as many points as possible in our pocket.”

Ivan Zaytsev, team captain of Italy: “To play the opening match at Foro Italico is the best we could ask for since this is the most iconic place where I have played throughout my career. We will be playing outdoors under the sky of Rome with some 10,500 fans supporting us from the stands from the start to the end of the match. I feel at home here and I can openly say that I feel extremely excited. Japan will put up a fight as they always do. We lost to Japan before and we will have to be very careful. To play a World Championship on home soil is a great opportunity. We wish to achieve the best possible result and I feel the extra responsibility for being the captain of the team.”

Yuichi Nakagaichi, head coach of Japan: “Italy have much history and they obviously are the favourites of this match. We feel ready for this opening game, as we have been working for two years for this championship. We will be playing to the best of our abilities. Playing outdoors is something new for us but we are happy because it makes our sport even more spectacular.”

Masahiro Yanagida, captain of Team Japan: “We will be playing some real champions and this is an opportunity for us to grow. Italy are very strong and they play at home, meaning that we are the underdogs. However, none should rule Japan out since we have a good team and we can play a good role in this tournament. Our goal is to achieve some good results; we know that there will be many fans in Rome and Florence and this makes us feel extra motivated.”

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