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“This time Brazil won’t lose” – Andrea Zorzi

 
Brazil's coach Bernardo Rezende is looking to take his team to a tenth World League win this week

Mar del Plata, Argentina, July 17, 2013 – With less than 24 hours before the start of the FIVB Volleyball World League Finals 2013, volleyball legend Andrea Zorzi runs through the contenders for the premier annual volleyball trophy for men.

“The opening match between Brazil and Russia is set to be brilliant. This is not the first time the two countries have met and no doubt Brazil will be working hard to ensure that they do not have a repeat of the 2012 Olympic Games final in London.   

“But this time Brazil won’t lose. If anything, their loss to Russia in London last year seems to have spurred them on and they are now on a mission for gold at the World League and in Rio in 2016.

“For this week, the odds are stacked in Brazil’s favour. Russia’s Muserskiy may have turned around the Olympic final for his country but he doesn’t have the same influence this time around especially as there have been many changes to the Russian team.

“Nevertheless, the Olympic champions still have enough class to cope well with the challenge. Russia currently has a lot of players, who are not well known, but who are technically and physically very good.  They are like a machine and the inexperienced players can rely on the depth of play from some of the more experienced players on the team.

“With regards to the other finalists, I am pleased to say that it’s a new era for Italy who have made their way back to the top after many years. A bronze medal in London was a great achievement. They have some good players and are playing a good game with a better attitude. However, there is room for improvement and the team needs to work on their consistency and strengthen their mental prowess.

“Brazil has been the leader in this sport for the past 15 years because in training all 12 players and their coach are focused on the job at hand. This is the secret of winning and the Italian team need to concentrate. I hope their loss to Iran during the intercontinental round will help the Italian team to regroup and find the motivation they need to take them far in the World League Finals.

“Bulgaria surprised me last year and again this year. They have earned their place in the Finals and coach Placi is going a great job. However, they still have a long way to go and I hope that by learning from experiences in the World League so far that they will be encouraged to get better.

“Argentina is currently missing some important players like Facundo Conte and for this reason I am not sure if they will be very competitive in the Finals.

“Canada’s qualification for the Finals was a big surprise for the volleyball community and also for them and no doubt a disappointment for the Netherlands who were leading the pool until recently.  

“I like the way Glenn Hoag coaches the Canadian team and his players have produced some good volleyball. He knows how to exploit their potential to the maximum and has shown his ability to coach well in France.  Canada produced some top class players during the 80s like Stelio DeRocco and John Barrett (one of the first jump servers in the game) and it is good to see the country making a comeback.

“I had the opportunity to watch the Intercontinental Round action closely and have to say that Iran played superbly. It is a pleasure to see my former coach Julio Velasco doing so well. His assistant Manuel Cicchello is from Mar del Plata and together they have been able to build an excellent rapport with the players.

“The Iranian players have a clear idea of how they have to play, have a great attitude and fight for each point until the very end - qualities that Velasco instilled in the Italian team all those years ago.  Time will tell if Iran can show the same level of skill over the long term.

“This year is the first of a new Olympic cycle and as many coaches have decided to introduce younger players to their teams, the level of play is not so high. The difference between the teams that got the good results and those that did not is focus. That is why Iran and Canada did so well this year.

“Indeed a strong team needs to show consistency and for this to happen every rally must be important. As defending champions, Poland started with too much confidence, losing their first four matches and consequently did not have time to recover. They had a slim chance of getting into the Finals in their last two games against Bulgaria but failed to go for every single set. It was a disappointing finish to their World League run but they have the unconditional backing of the Polish fans who are willing them to go far in the European Championships.

 “All will be revealed in a few hours and I know that whatever happens, we will be in for a treat.”

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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