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Kampa: We can be optimistic

Lukas Kampa leads Germany in Berlin as they attempt to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Berlin, Germany, January 9, 2020 - Germany captain Lukas Kampa and head coach Andrea Giani speak in an interview ahead of their match against Bulgaria later today in the semifinals of the CEV Men's Tokyo Volleyball Qualification tournament.

Lukas, where does the team stand after the preliminary round and ahead of the duel with Bulgaria?

Kampa: “We enjoyed the free day; it came in very handy. Everyone went out and got some fresh air. The preliminary round went nearly perfect. Before the tournament I said that we wanted to improve from game to game; but that nearly wasn’t possible after the second match. It was noticeable that the tension and nervousness against Slovenia weren’t as high. We created a good starting position because everyone could collect some more match practice. We can be accordingly satisfied and optimistic.”

How was it for you to see that valuable impulses can even come from the bench against such a strong opponent as  the European vice champions?

Kampa: “For the team and individual players that was very important; with that I think of Simon Hirsch for example. At the moment we can’t yet say how it will look for Georg Grozer under the pressure of a long competition, and therefore Simon could take on a very important role. He improved throughout the game against Slovenia and others were convincing too. Moritz Reichert offered a strong game and showed that he can help with his service. We technically have everything together that we need for the semifinal and a potential final.”

Andrea, do you agree with your captain?

Giani: “Yes, because the structure and energy in our game are right. The certain something and necessary tingle to win such a high-quality tournament are present. We feel good. The absolute will can be felt in the team, that’s how we could already turn around several deficits. The substitutions also worked well in all three matches so far.”

Where is there still potential for improvement for the semifinal?

Giani: “It is about everyone reaching his personal limit now. As a team we are moving in a good direction and need to keep the positive attitude on the court.”

Kampa: “There were moments when things just worked perfectly, for example the run of Georg against the Czech Republic or the end of the second and third sets against Belgium. Then a defence works, and another, and that is the flow that is needed. When such runs succeed in the all-or-nothing-games too, then it’s looking good.”

How do you evaluate the remaining opponents for the semifinals?

Giani: “I haven’t seen a team that we have to be scared of. It depends on us holding our level, or even heightening it. The European Championships recently showed that at the very highest level every team can be beaten on some days. This happened to Poland for example. There are no unbeatable opponents here either.”

Is the home advantage present so far?

Kampa: “I was very happy against Slovenia that so many people came to the arena on a Thursday evening for a game that didn’t have too much importance. I found the atmosphere throughout the days very good. Yesterday some fans were perhaps watching the `Bachelor’ and will hopefully come back to the Max-Schmeling-Arena with full energy again today. We rely on a wall of German fans to stand behind us. We need that to be successful.”

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