Florence, Italy, October 3, 2010 – The Nelson Mandela Forum is set for some spectacular Volleyball over the next three days as two of the four third-round groups in the 2010 FIVB Men’s World Championship take to the court in Florence.
Pool P will see Argentina, Russia and Serbia go head to head in the round-robin format, while Pool Q comprises Spain, Bulgaria and Cuba. Each group winner goes forward to the semifinals and finals in Rome on October 9-10 while the second-placed teams move on to Modena for the 5-8 classification and those finishing third stay in Florence to compete for 9-12 places.
In the second round Argentina won Pool M, while Serbia were the winners of Pool H and Russia finished second in Pool I. Pool P starts with Serbia v Argentina on October 4, followed by Russia v Serbia the following day and Argentina v Russia on October 6. All of these matches take place at 5pm local time.
Pool Q contestants Spain and Bulgaria won second-round Pools I and N respectively, while Cuba were second in Pool H. Their schedule starts with Spain v Bulgaria on October 4, followed by Cuba against Spain the next day and finally Bulgaria v Cuba on October 6. These games will be played at 9pm local time.
Five of the six teams competing in Florence are ranked among the top nine teams in the FIVB world rankings. Russia are ranked highest, at No.2, followed by Serbia at No.4, Bulgaria at No.7, Cuba at No.8 and Argentina at No.9. On paper Spain are the rank outsiders at No.37 in the world.
Based on results in the first two rounds both pools in Florence are wide open. No team won both its first and second-round pools and no team is undefeated in the tournament. Russia and Cuba won their respective first-round pools but each lost a match in the second round to finish second in their group and are 4-1 overall.
Bulgaria and Spain each won their second-round pools but finished third in their respective first-round pools and are 3-2 overall. After finishing top in their first-round pool Cuba finished second in the last round and are 4-1 overall, while Serbia are 3-2 for the tournament after finishing second in the first round and first in their second-round group.
Argentina, appearing in the FIVB World Championship for the 10th time, are trying to reach the podium for only the second time; in front of their home crowd in 1982 they finished third. Either under their own flag or as part of the USSR Russia have played in all 17 FIVB World Championships, winning 12 medals, six of them gold. Serbia are playing in their eighth World Championship, including as part of Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro. Their best finish was second in 1998.
Bulgaria are in their 16th World Championship, the most by any country under the same flag. Their best effort was the silver medal won on home soil in Sofia in 1970, while they have also won four bronze medals. Cuba, in their 13th World Championship, are in the hunt for their first-ever gold medal after silver in 1990 and bronze in 1998 and 1978. Spain are appearing for only the third time after finishing eighth in 2002 and 13th in 2006.
Argentina coach Javier Weber: “I think my team is playing at a very good level and we expected to reach the third round. Argentina have nothing to lose, so we will play loose and are very motivated for these matches. Serbia and Russia are very good teams in the world, but Argentina is very ready. We are happy to arrive here in Florence with the team being very young, which is very important to the future of Argentinian volleyball.”
Russia coach Daniele Bagnoli: “Now that we have arrived in the third round, every match counts and we can’t lose. We have a very big target but we will try to advance to Rome and win a medal. So far we have not met a very strong team in the first two rounds, but that is part of the formula for this championship. We will see how the Serbia-Argentina match goes on the first day then prepare for Serbia on Tuesday and Argentina on Wednesday.”
Serbia coach Igor Kolakovic: “We have a difficult path to our goal of reaching the semifinals. To start the pool we play Argentina, a young team with a lot of energy that plays very technically. Then we play Russia, which is one of the favoured teams to win the gold medal. We will do our best, but we know that it will be a difficult time.”
Bulgaria coach Silvano Prandi: “We are happy to be here in Florence, and we are hoping to go to Rome for the next round. Teams must win every match to reach the championship. At this point, it is impossible to calculate the results (of third-round matches). Every group is strong as the best 12 teams are playing in the third round and it will be a spectacular event.”
Cuba coach Orlando Samuel Blackwood: “We have very complicated games coming up in the third round with Bulgaria and Spain. Both teams are playing very well, but we will try our best in our two matches in Florence.”
Spain assistant coach Francisco Manuel Hervas: “We are playing with plenty of enthusiasm and are satisfied with our work so far. We will enjoy the moment of playing here in the third round and see how far we can go.”
FIVB Press Department Director - Richard Baker
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