Rome, Italy, October 9, 2010 – Brazil won the battle between the winners of the last five FIVB Men's World Championship titles – and against a sold-out crowd of more than 12,000 fans – as the world No1 handed hosts Italy their first defeat of the tournament with a 3-1 (25-15, 25-22, 23-25, 25-17) win in the second semifinal in the PalaLottomatica on Saturday.
The victory sets up Brazil for their third successive World Championship final on Sunday when they take on Cuba, while Italy will contest the bronze medal against Serbia. Top scorers for Brazil were Vissotto with 24 points followed by Dante and Murilo with 16 and 10 respectively while Alessandro Fei led Italy's attack with 20 points. Luigi Mastrangelo was the only other Italian to reach double figures with 12.
FIVB Men's World Championship 2010 official page
Brazil have won the last two world titles and a silver medal in 1982 while world No5 Italy were champions three times running from 1990-1998. The victory was Brazil 12th in a row against the Azzurri dating back to the 2003 World League, including successes in the 2006 World Championship semifinal, the 2004 Olympic Games and World League finals.
The reigning champions made an explosive start with Murilo confirming his state of mind by serving an ace immediately. Brazil scored the first three points of the match, thanks to middle blocker Rodrigao's proficiency in attack and defence, and Italy were slow to respond. At the First Technical Timeout (FTT), the hosts trailed 8-5. Fei had delivered two winning attacks but the Italian blocking could do little against the aggressive spiking of Vissotto, who had already compiled seven points.
The teams went to the benches at the Second Technical Timeout (STT) with the score at 16-11 for Brazil. Cristian Savani, one of Italy's go-to-guys during the tournament, was struggling with his receiving, making him a target for the Brazil attack. Despite Fei's six points, Italy's reception rate of 57 per cent and even lower 44 per cent rate on attack ensured Bernardo Rezende's team a comfortable 25-15 win in the first set.
Savani tried to make amends in the second set with an early score but the Brazilians were relentless. Virtually flawless in their tactical play, they reached the FTT with a lead of 8-5. Matej Cernic's winning ace tied the score at 8-8, however, and when Savani served another ace, Andrea Anastasi's side appeared to have gained some momentum, taking a 15-13 lead. When the action resumed after the STT, though, Brazil turned on the pressure and succeeded in closing the set at 25-22. Italy's top scorers in the second set were Cernic, Mastrangelo and Savani all with five points. For Brazil, captain Giba and Murilo led the way with five points followed by Dante with four.
Entering the third set, Italy knew it was now 'do or die' for their ambitions of playing in the final. A lead of 10-6 for the home side sent a rush of hope through the packed venue and the Azzurri kept the momentum going – their reception rate rising to 80 per cent – until they held a 24-22 advantage. Italy libero Davide Marra had made a telling contribution with 16 receptions (a 75 per cent rate), although the man of the set was Fei, who scored nine points. A low attacking error then completed Italy's set win at 25-23.
Brazil came back stronger than ever in the fourth set to take an immediate 6-3 lead and only Italy's determination was keeping them afloat. At the STT, Brazil were 16-10 ahead and when Rezende's team returned on to the court, they continued hammering away at the hosts' defence. Italy managed to inch their way to 21-13, but the match had already taken a negative turn for the Azzurri who eventually succumbed 25-17.