Lausanne, Switzerland, May 9, 2013 - Following the announcement of the squads for the 2013 edition of the FIVB Volleyball World League, Italian volleyball legend Andrea Zorzi casts his eye over the teams and predicts who are the likely front runners.
“Since its inception in 1990, the World
League has shown itself to be an outstanding international volleyball
tournament not only for the quality of the game on offer, but also for the
platform it provides for the development of our sport.
“With the increase in the number of participating teams this year, the intensity of the competition is set to increase and with it the level of the sport. As this is the first year of the new Olympic cycle, each team will be looking to establish themselves as serious contenders for the Games in Rio in 2016.
“From my point of view Italy, Poland, Russia and Brazil are the four teams that are well positioned for victory in the 2013 World League.
“The Italian team has just started its training session in Cavalese, a small town in the north of Italy, with a strong group of young athletes, who have already played in the country’s first and second divisions. The Italian national team has experienced a revival over the past few years and has once again become an important goal for national volleyball players to attain so each player is working as hard as possible to make the final cut. Italy has young, determined players vying for the top spot even though for many of them the World League will be their first opportunity to compete in a top international tournament.
“Then there is Poland, a country with great players and amazing supporters. Having won the last World League edition, Poland will be counting on the same squad – with the exception of setter Zagumny – to attain victory for the second year in the row. Poland has some physically powerful and technically well-developed players like Kurek, Mozdzonek and Bartman who are perfect for modern volleyball and are also extremely passionate about their sport. They know they have the support of the entire nation, which can boost their enthusiasm and energy but also subject them to a lot of pressure on the team. As long as they succeed in dealing with this mental pressure, they are capable of reaching any goal.
“The Russian national team have all the qualities at their disposal to win this year’s World League title but they have to show more consistency in their play. While their Olympic gold medal win should give them the self-confidence to go for the World League title they must be careful not to rest on their laurels and lose that momentum. New coach Andrey Voronkov has to face two big challenges from my point of view. The first is to find ways of motivating his players to keep on winning and the second is to fill the space left by Sergey Tetyukhin, a key player for the Russian side for many years now. To his advantage, Voronkov currently has a set of really strong players whose talents will be harnessed expertly.
“Brazil has many excellent players even after the retirement of super stars Giba and Sergio. The current squad is young yet experienced and they are destined to be the favourite as they have been in the last decade. Their coach, Bernardo Rezende, who has been at the helm for the past 13 years is now determined to take his team to victory following their defeat in the 2008 Olympic final in Beijing and in London 2012. He is not one to quit easily after a defeat and his passion for coaching will also be an important factor in nurturing his team for success.
“This does not mean, however, that other teams cannot perform brilliantly. Argentina – host of the World League Finals – love playing to the home crowd and this is where the young Argentinean players find their greatest inspiration and motivation. Conte, De Cecco and their teammates have a great deal of technical skill and agility to exploit to their advantage.
“Germany has an opportunity to reaffirm its position internationally, following its recent success but the team will have to remain single-minded in their purpose as they have been over the past few years. I know that Vital Heynen, the German coach, will strive for the best and will work hard to maintain, and raise, the commitment of his team.
“The US also has a chance of stamping their mark on the World League this year with John Speraw and his assistant Matt Fuerbringer leading the way. They will have to search for a new identity for their team but North American coaches and players are traditionally the best in the world when working to bring out their team’s full capabilities. Over the last few years the US has not played a technically brilliant game and have not shown as much determination as in the past. It will not be easy as Speraw and Fuerbringer cannot rely on many developed players - at least not as many as other countries. However, I know that they can succeed in building a top class team that will surprise the volleyball world once more.
“Needless to say, I am eagerly anticipating this year’s World League action.”
Andrea Zorzi is a former Italian volleyball star who won two FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship crowns in 1990 and 1994 as well as three World League titles from 1990-1992 where he also won the Most Valuable Player award at both the 1990 and 1991 editions. He was also a silver medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and won the 1989 European Championship in a career which spanned 325 matches. After retiring in 1998, he collaborated with a number of important Italian TV networks as well as international newspapers as a journalist.
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