How strong is Italy, the team the Netherlands have to
play twice this coming weekend in Eindhoven?
Who better to ask than Henk Jan Held, the former Dutch
internationa who played in the Italian League for 15 years, still lives in ‘the
boot,’ and watched two of Italy's earlier World League matches.
"Compared to the past Olympics it is a completely
new team," says the 41-year-old former middle blocker. "Men like
Bovolenta, Meoni and Zlatanov have left and the famous opposite Fei is not
playing in this World League. Perhaps he will join the team at the European
The new Italian internationals have played inconsistently
so far, according to Held. "They play excellent every now and then, but
also have phases where they make a lot of errors. Matteo Martino, a guy I
played with two years ago, has a lot of talent, but has not yet become a stable
Held also played with Giacomo Sintini, Italy's setter.
"It was not because of him that Italy lost to the USA (last weekend). If
your attackers are not at their best, a setter cannot solve the problem. I am
curious if and when setter Vermiglio will join the team again. He was the
primary Italian setter for years according to the FIVB list, but hasn't been
playing up to now."
Does Held have a hint for the Dutch players? "Don't
make too many mistakes and be patient when things go differently for a while. Italy
is a strong but unstable team. You will get your chances."