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Berruto keeps Italy’s expectations in check

Italy coach Mauro Berruto (right) has a "great respect" for Iran who is led this year by Serbian Slobodan Kovac
Trieste, Italy, May 29, 2014 – Following Italy’s sensational start to the 2014 World League when they beat world No. 1 Brazil in Brazil twice during last weekend’s opening weekend, coach Mauro Berruto was keen to keep his players’ and Italian fans’ feet on the ground as they approach their second round of Pool A matches this weekend against Iran in Trieste on Friday and in Verona on Sunday.

The challenge in Trieste (20:30 local time) sees the debut of Italy at home against the emerging Slobodan Kovac’s team, which was previously under the guidance of former Italy and current Argentina coach Julio Velasco.  The excellent pre-sale of tickets, (4,300 sold) confirms the great interest in the match that is taking place at PalaTrieste – a venue which will host two phases of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 in September and October - but Berruto was quick to cool excessive enthusiasm during Thursday’s press conference.

“Defeating Brazil is not a reason to take it easy, although I’m very satisfied with the way my players performed, especially as far as the first sets in Brazil are concerned,” Berruto said. “We couldn’t have started the Pool better, thanks to the quality of the game we succeeded in implementing. This Pool has an extraordinary quality. Our priorities are getting to the Final Six in Florence in the best shape and keeping the same condition in the World Championship later this year”.

The Italian coach confirmed to have “a great respect for Iran, who have demonstrated to be on course to consistently challenge at the top level, with players of great quality across their team”.

Meanwhile, Serbian Kovac who coached Italian club team Perugia before taking on the Iran role, said he has a game plan to beat the eight-time World League winners. “Iran wants to surprise Italy with our serve,” he said. “We have a very strong float serve. We need to keep the Italians far from the net, but we know it won’t be easy.”
Joking about the outstanding performance in Brazil of middle-blocker Simone Buti – a Perugia player – Kovac said: “I hope he won’t play,” before going on to express his confidence in the bright future of the Iran men’s team. “They have a quality not only in the future, but already in the present. We played well in the friendly matches in Bulgaria and in Serbia before coming here.”

Italy and Iran have met twice in the World League before – Iran won the first match 3-1 last year, then Italy responded by labouring to a 3-2 win in the second match - although Iran took the honours in last year's FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup in Japan 3-2.

Italy are on course to achieving their third successive win after defeating Brazil in Jaragua Do Sul twice. In each of the previous four seasons, from 2010 to 2013, they started off by winning at least their first three matches. Iran made a promising debut last season beating opponents Serbia, Cuba, Germany and Italy at least once, except eventual World League champions Russia in their Intercontinental Round group.


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