Berlin, June 21, 2011 – The balance is impressive and no other team has been able to match them in the 2011 FIVB World League. Russia have a maximum 24 points after four of the six preliminary weekends and have dropped just one set (to Japan). The No. 2 team in the world won every other match 3-0. The German team will meet the leaders on June 23 and 24 in the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin and will try to upset Russia's “perfect storm.”
It might also be Germany's last chance to fulfil their dream of participating in the World League's Final Round. The chances have dropped to a minimum after a 3-1 defeat against Bulgaria.
“But the hope is still there, as long as we have a chance,” says opposite and Russia expert Jochen Schöps. “However, we know it will be difficult.” The 27-year-old knows the Russian players well, as he has played for four years in the Russian Super-League. He knows what the causes of Russia's slightly diminished level of play against Japan and Bulgaria might have been. He also realizes what his own team must do.
“We have to be more consistent,” he says. “We still have a lot of waves in the match and we have to turn that off if we play against world-class teams like Bulgaria or Russia. If we don’t realize this, we will lose.”
The German team travelled to the venue on Monday, June 20. Lukas Kampa (RWE Volleys Bottrop) has joined the team again after injury. On Tuesday morning, in the first training session, middle blocker Marcus Böhme (VfB Friedrichshafen) was a spectator. The 2.11-meter player has been suffering from influenza but is now on the mend. Coach Raúl Lozano has to withdraw two players for the matches against Russia, as he can nominate only 14 players for each match.
An added motivation for victory against the “Russian Giant” is the fact that the FIVB made the second encounter the “Match of the Week,” so it will be broadcast live around the whole world and the German players will have a chance to show how “Volleyball made in Germany” has developed.
The top team in Pool B, who have already qualified for the Final Round in Poland, arrived in Berlin on Tuesday with all their stars: setter Sergey Grankin, middle blockers Alexander Volkov and Dmitriy Muserskiy, and opposite Maxim Mikhaylov. They want to make sure their balance remains perfect.
The German squad versus Russia: Robert Kromm (Ufa/RUS), Jochen Schöps (Odintsovo/RUS), Simon Tischer (Ankara/TUR), Patrick Steuerwald, Sebastian Schwarz (Perugia/ITA), Marcus Popp (Piacenza/ITA), Marcus Böhme, Christian Fromm (VfB Friedrichshafen), Max Günthör, Ferdinand Tille, Denis Kaliberda (Generali Haching), Stefan Hübner, Christian Dünnes (evivo Düren), Ricardo Galandi (SCC Berlin), Markus Steuerwald (Paris Volley/FRA), Lukas Kampa (RWE Volleys Bottrop).