Teams must 'give their all at every opportunity’ says Zorzi
“Prior to the start of each World League season, players work hard to ensure that they are on top form, physically. And as is the case, most national teams place a great deal of emphasis on physical fitness and in finding players who can jump higher and spike more strongly. But it is also important in today’s game of volleyball to pay attention to the technical and tactical details of the game.
With this in mind, and after recently watching their tune-up matches for the World League, I would like to share my perspective on the following four teams – Poland, Serbia, Italy and France.
Although Poland has a good chance of retaining its gold medal spot again this year, they need to take care to focus on the finer details of their game. While strength is important, any team wanting to win the World League needs to concentrate on speed and the ability to think fast and tactically. Technically speaking, I am curious to see how setter Lukasz Zygadlo can help to change the dynamic of Poland’s game.
Having played in a team of powerful players in the Russia Superliga, Zygadlo was forced to adapt his thinking when playing for Poland in order to play a faster game. It is clear that if Poland is going to win against Brazil, they have to exploit not just their strength but also the speed of their game.
Poland is a volleyball hungry country and if their match against Serbia in Miliciz (Poland) showed, the national team will have to fend off pressure from all quarters as it prepares to meet Brazil in this coming weekend’s World League match.
While Serbia also has a strong team of young and physically gifted players they are not under as much pressure as Poland. Their new setter shows much promise but he may take some time to reach his full potential. But Serbian volleyball is structured in such a way so as to give their young players a couple of years of experience in order to grow and get better as players. For the moment the team has the luxury of focusing on team-building – and this will hold them in good stead in their match against Cuba this weekend.
After watching the match between Italy and France in Piacenza, it is evident that both teams have changed a great deal since last year.
The French team are paying a lot more attention to their passing and they move together with a great deal of speed. During their tune-up match, it was clear that this is where they are fundamentally better than the Italian team. So their win came as no surprise.
I was also struck by a recent comment made by France coach, Laurent Tillie who said, “We will not approach the World League as a warm-up for the Euro 2013, but as an intense and great major competition."
For Laurent Tillie the World League is a priority and the tournament is not just being seen as preparation for the European Championship. I fully agree with this philosophy as it is important to strive for the best in any championship – otherwise you are just wasting your time. A good friend and former US national team player always say to me, “Not playing at your best never helps.” And for sure, it is important for teams to give their all at every opportunity – even when playing a friendly match.
While Italy has a good young team this year, it is possible that their performance has not been as top-notch because they are missing some important players. Nevertheless, it is crucial that Italy stay motivated and focused otherwise they risk not being able to exploit their skill set totally.
They have been working together for only a few weeks now so they need more work, especially on the tactical side of the game. But in the second friendly match against France, coach Mauro Berruto changed the starting setter Dragan Travica to Michele Baranowicz. This changed the nature of the game and it will be interesting to see how Berruto manages these two players at the World League.
This has been a bitter-sweet start to the 2013 World League season. Earlier in May I had the honour of having my hand prints placed in Poland’s Alei Gwiazd (‘Volleyball Alley’). A few weeks later I took part in a memorial match for Vigor Bovolenta who passed away suddenly last year. It was difficult to fight back the tears as his family and friends paid tribute to him during the match. The match was also an opportunity to bring together many generations of volleyball players under one roof for a special ambience that I will remember for a long time to come.
As players, coaches and their accompanying staff put together the final preparations for the coming weekend’s matches, I would like to wish them only the best of luck and look forward to seeing what they can achieve on the court this season.
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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