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Germany return to World League for first time since 2003

German players are enthusiastic about their chances in this year's FIVB World League
Stuttgart, Germany, June 2, 2010 - The FIVB World League returns to Germany this weekend for the first time since 2003 as they host European Men’s Champions Poland at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.

Excluding captain Björn Andrea, star player Jochen Schöps and Libero Sebastian Prüsener, no other German player has ever participated in the World League.

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“I have never played World League, I just heard about it,” Germany’s 2,12 meter giant Robert Kromm said. “Now I am part of it and I am of course really looking forward to this special tournament.”

This sentiment is echoed by setter Patrick Steuerwald who added that the “World League is a must; we only can improve in matches versus the world’s best teams, especially in terms of the World Championships in Italy. We played four good matches at the European Championship Qualification but the opponents in the World League are one level higher of course.”
 
Poland have been preparing for the competition by playing two matches against European Championship runners-up France. Poland won the first match in Rzeszow 3-2 (30-28, 21-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-10) before making several changes for the second match, which they lost 3-0 (20-25, 22-25, 21-25).

Head-to-head, Poland look to have the upper hand against their German counterparts with this weekend’s hosts claiming 33 victories against Poland’s 64. Additionally, Germany lost the last encounter between the two sides 3-1 at the Final Round of the European Championships last year.

However the home side’s coach, Raúl Lozano, knows the Polish team very well after leading them to a silver medal in the 2006 FIVB World Championships and a fifth place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. “I still have a special relationship to Poland and its players,” the Argentinean coach says, “Internationally, Poland is the only team that showed a constant performance over two Olympic Cycles. It is the strongest opponent in our Preliminary Round. They are able to win a World Championship medal.”

Raúl Lozano, Germany Coach
"To gain experience on a high level is a crucial point to ideally prepare for the World Championships. Last year we only had a couple of games within the European League on the highest level. Only a few of my players have already played in the World League so the upcoming games are enormously important. But we do not only want to gain experience, we also want to win."

"We are only 17th in the World Ranking but this is just the score on paper. To my opinion we should be ranked between the 10th and 12th. We are planning to play against Poland on the same level as we did in the qualification for the European Championship versus Estonia, Croatia and Montenegro. Those teams were of course all on a lower level than Poland, but we will soon find out which team will win."

 

Björn Andrae, Germany captain
"The World League is the main tournament in Volleyball occurring yearly. Hence we were not taking part for several years, we are rather nervous by now. It seems to be a mixture of aggression and motivation, but we are also really looking forward to play against Poland in the World League - but our Pool is on a really high level."

"We are here to win the upcoming games. We are all ready and also have the advantage to play in front of a home crowd."

Daniel Castellani, Poland coach

"At the moment some of our players are missing and therefore it is our first goal to integrate these players step by step. Within four to five weeks all players should be ready. Additionally, this year’s season in Poland ended very late, so we only had little time to prepare ourselves. The second goal is to improve technically, to integrate our young players and to win as many games as possible."

"Setter Pawel Zagumny is missing because his child was just born in Greece. In general I am very satisfied and our problems are not too serious."

"The main goal is always winning. But our Pool is really strong so this Preliminary Round should be the most even one within the World League."

 

Piotr Gruszka (Captain POL)

-          The competition hall is a good one and I am hoping that the quality of the games will be just as good.

-          It will most likely be very interesting to play against former Polish coach Raúl Lozano, but we also have many new players which he does not know.
  

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