Men's Olympic Games 2004
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27 August
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World League rematch as Brazil & Italy make final
Athens, Greece, August 27, 2004 – World champions Brazil and European champions Italy will playoff for gold in the final of the 2004 Olympic Games men’s Volleyball competition after both teams won breathtaking semifinal matches on Friday.
The final will be a repeat of the 2004 World League final in July, which Brazil won 3-1 (27-25 25-19 25-27 25-17) and promises to be another fantastic contest featuring the number one and two highest ranked teams in the world.
World number one Brazil will start the final as favourites having won every international Volleyball title available since their World Championship triumph in 2002. Italy, meanwhile, will be looking for revenge after they lost the Preliminary Round match up in a five set thriller 3-2 (25-21, 15-25, 25-16, 21-25, 33-31).
Italy, who are now guaranteed their third-straight Olympic medal after finishing second to the Netherlands in Atlanta 1996, and claiming bronze in Sydney four years ago, completely outplayed a star struck Russian side in their semifinal, winning in straight sets (25-16, 25-17, 25-16) in just over an hour. It was an amazing performance from the Squadra Azzurra, who played arguably their best match in the past decade.
“My players played absolutely perfect today,” said coach GianPaolo Montali. “It was the only way to beat such a good team as Russia. I am very pleased.”
The question begs to be asked, has Italy played their best match one game too early ahead of the gold medal game? “I think that we cannot play better than how we played today,” Montali added. “We will try to avoid mistakes. Brazil are a difficult opponent; they have different approaches and strategies.”
In the second semifinal Brazil reversed an earlier 3-1 Preliminary Round defeat to USA by beating the world number five in straight sets 25-16, 25-17, 25-23.
It is the first time Brazil has been in the men's Olympic Volleyball final since 1992 when the South Americans beat the Netherlands for gold.
“We played very well and we’re very pleased with our effort,” Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende said. “We did not let them get into any rhythm and we kept the pressure on the throughout. Obviously we had to make up or the other night and we caught the Americans a little flat. Italy is a great team and they’re going to be hard to beat, a lot depends on our ability to handle their attack and their service game.”
The final on Sunday will see Brazil play Italy at 14:30 straight after the bronze medal match between Russia and USA at 12:30.
Final four set to begin
ATHENS, 26 August – Russia, Italy, Brazil and the United States are just one step away from having the opportunity of playing for gold when the semifinals of the men’s Olympic Volleyball competition get underway on Friday.
The four teams in the semifinals, who all come from Pool B in the Preliminary Round, are guaranteed to provide an amazing spectacle with some fascinating match ups in store.
At 19:30, 2000 Olympic Games runners-up Russia take on the Sydney bronze medalists and European champions Italy.
Russia, world championship bronze medalists, and Italy are in the Olympic semifinals for the third consecutive time. Russia adding a fourth in Atlanta to its silver in Sydney, while Italy finished second in 1996 along with the bronze it earned in 2000.
The two medal challengers have already gone head-to-head in the Athens Olympic tournament Preliminary Round with Russia winning in the tiebreaker, 3-2 (25-16, 25-22, 22-25, 23-25, 15-13) thanks to the supreme blocking and the efficient spiking of Serguey TETYUKHIN (RUS) and Pavel ABRAMOV (RUS).
Russia's morale should be sky-high after knocking the defending champions Serbia and Montenegro out during the quarterfinals, avenging Russia's defeat in the 2000 Olympic tournament final.
Russia is third in the blocking statistics, averaging 2.79 per set. They are led by Alexey KULESHOV's (RUS) 17. TETYUKHIN has been Russia’s top scorer so far with 83, including 75 via the spike.
Italy’s serving has been a great weapon so far, while they also rank first in the non-scoring diggers. Andrea SARTORETTI (ITA) leads Italy in scoring with a total of 103.
Meanwhile, World Championship, World League and World Cup champions Brazil face off against two-time former Olympic gold medallists USA at 21:30.
Brazil is seeking their first Olympic medal since winning gold in Barcelona in 1992, while the United States finished third at that event.
In the preliminary round, the United States upset Brazil in four sets 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22), in a match remembered for Brazil’s use of their entire squad.
The USA’s highlight so far took place in its quarterfinal match against Greece. Despite being down two sets to one and 20-12 in the fourth set, the US produced a never-seen-before comeback to win the match.
Brazil, on the other hand, are by far the best team in the competition in terms of statistics. The world number one lead the scoring spikers, scoring servers, non-scoring setters and non-scoring receivers categories.
Gilberto GODOY FILHO (USA), Andre NASCIMENTO (USA) and Dante Guimaraes AMARAL (USA) are the stars for Brazil.
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