Evo malo Zorzijevih zapazanja o cetvrtfinalistima:
U.S.A. (1° POOL A)
Three excellent players: the setter Ball, the diagonal hitter Stanley and the wing hitter Priddy. Two standard middle the blockers, Millar and Lee, and Salmon and Lambourne, two hardworking players, totally committed to digging and passing. All of them joined by a common strong will, able to support the unavoidable ups and downs of any match. This is the basic portrait of the amazing North American team. They make simple Volleyball focusing only on “the good Volleyball playing, nothing else”. It seems easy but this is the secret to succeed in Volleyball.
ITALY (2° POOL A)
The Italian team got the second place in Pool A tough Anastasi had to deal with many injures: Fei (sprained ankle), Mastrangelo and Corsano (knee problem). The Italian coach in the five matches started with many different lined up and I don’t know if it was a choice or a necessity.
The best Italian performance so far was against Bulgaria and the worst against USA and China.
Given that Italy “could be” a good team in attacking and blocking, to try to win against Poland they need to play with a totally different defense attitude.
By the way, since the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992, Italy was always considered one of the favorite teams to win the gold medal. Here, many reporters are repeating that this condition is a big advantage because the Italians can play without any pressure. Being a former player I can assure that those kind of matters interest journalists much more than players.
BULGARIA (3° POOL A)
The Bulgarians had to manage the thorny situation of their captain Konstantinov, who missed the first four matches due to his return to Sofia to test some weird values. Reassured by the results, which excluded the assumptions of any illegal substance, he flew back to Beijing to play the last match (not decisive) of the Preliminary Round. His team-mates have already achieved the qualification to the quarter final but they had to deal with many problems in reception because Konstantinov is their best receiver. The missing of consistent passers and the consequent drop in general efficiency, was the biggest issue of Martin Stoev, the Bulgarian coach.
Now, the team is complete but they could pay for the few matches played together.
Yesterday I described Cuban Women players as “historically unpredictable”. Well, this definition suits perfectly to Bulgarian Men’s team too.
CHINA (4° POOL A)
I cannot explain why Chinese players are skilled enough in individually but they don’t succeed in playing good as a team. They are endowed of a discrete technique but during the game they make a lot of simple errors.
In the sport we use two terms to describe different phases of the training: analytical and global. The analytical drills aimed to improve the individual abilities while global exercises help to combine together those skills.
Chinese are asymmetric: too analytical and less global.
BRASILE (1° POOL B)
The Brazilian team is fighting hard because they want to close this cycle with the second Olympic gold medal. Hugh Mc Cutcheon, the US team coach, after the US team victory in the 2007 World Cup defined Brazilian as players “not that better to explain their longest winning streak. The Brazilians worked harder than any other team, thus they deserve a special esteem”.
Now they are trying to deal with Giba’s injury and though their performances aren’t the best ever, they got the first place in the Pool B. They have lost the distinguishing rapidity and smoothness in attack and Gustavo, one of the best blockers in the world, is less efficient than usual. However their willpower is the strongest and I consider Brazil the favorite to win the gold.
RUSSIA (2° POOL B)
The Russian team was performing well. Grankin, the Russian setter, succeeded in the quick set, which has been considered his weakest point. The correlation with both the middle blockers, Volkov and Kuleshov, was much better than usual. Moreover, the atypical enthusiasm displayed by all the Russian players in the previous matches seemed the proof of their new attitude.
Today Russian players partially wasted what they achieved in the last days.
From the beginning, Poltavskiy replaced Mikhaylov as opposite and, after the first set won easily, they played following their old patterns (no quick attack and weak defense) losing confidence.
After today’s defeat against Poland, I wonder who will be the starting players in the next crucial match against Bulgaria: Poltavskiy or Mikhaylov?
Will Grankin succeed in playing quickly?
Will the Russians recover the confidence they had?
These issues would have been useless if the Russians had played as they did in the last matches.
“The speedy train hard to stop” we have seen so far, is slowing suddenly down.
POLONIA (3° POOL B)
I think that Poles have dreamed to be in this conditions. They worked hard to peak at the Olympic Games and since the victory in the first tricky match against Germany they played consistently. Only once (in the match against Brazil, after the first set lost 30-28), they gave up. Lozano, their coach, wants a determined and resolute team. He’s looking for a team able to overcome the tough moments during the game. The Polish players are talented but sometimes they suffered the lack of results. In the Preliminary Round Wlazly and Winiarski were excellent in sharing their confidence with the other team mates. Poland is a team which can perform well in all the fundamentals, relying on a good mix of psychical strength and technical skills. The quarter finals are always the most complicated match in all the tournament because the defeat in this phase is a kind of failure. That’s why the pressure is really heavy.
SERBIA (4° POOL B)
The Serbians seem relaxed despite two victories and three defeats. N. Grbic said that their only concern is the level of their own performances. Serbians aren’t playing as good as they did in Rio de Janeiro a few weeks ago during the World league Finals. They will encounter a squad, USA, that technically speaking is similar. I think that the US team has more probabilities to reach the semifinals because it is playing more steadily than Serbia.
However, I know pretty well I. Miljkovic - the Serbian diagonal hitter - who is a wonderful player able to change alone the destiny of a match, thus the match could be more balanced than expected.
BRAZIL (1° POOL B)
After the preliminary Round, Ze Roberto’s team is definitely the best team. They are playing wonderfully in any phases of the game. They have the right attitude and concentration and they succeeded easily in any fundamentals. So far, no team seems steady enough to compete with Brazilians players. Ze Roberto keeps on playing down their victories to lighten the pressure depending on the past: Brazil won a lot of tournaments but they never got the gold medal in the Olympic Games.
ITALY (2° POOL B)
This is not the same team I saw in the 2007 World Cup. That team played with patience, smartness and accuracy, avoiding any unforced errors. Today, in the match against Brazil, the players seemed totally out of control. On one hand, Lo Bianco’s distribution was confused and unstrategical, the spikers - on the other hand - were unable to overcome the opponent’s block. In defense the Italians were slow, inaccurate and, moreover, with the wrong emotional approach. I know and I appreciate the Italian coach Barbolini, thus I think that - though the poor performance - he can improve this negative condition and face quite confidently the quarter final against USA
RUSSIA (3° POOL B)
Before the last game with Serbia, Russia was already qualified counting on the victories over ALGERIA and KAZAKHSTAN. Though the Russians achieved their first goal, they have to deal with many uncertainties. Both the setters are often considered responsible for the poor performances. As a matter of fact, M. Akulova and M. Sheshinina aren’t so accurate as they should be to play at this level, but blaming a player (intended as a role) like the sole responsible for the bad performances hides the truth. The Russian athletes should perform with the right attitude focusing on the different game phases rather than relying only on service, attack and block. Today they easily topped Serbia displaying some improvements both at technical (quick set and defense) and emotional levels. In the next match Russia will face China and the players will have to keep on playing with patience, smartness as they did against Serbia to have any chance to win.
SERBIA (4° POOL B)
Terzic, the Serbian coach, after the defeat against Russia said: “we would have played the Preliminary Round to improve our game level but we failed. I think that in the Quarter Final against Cuba we can show that we didn’t forget how we can play Volleyball”.
His face was grim and also the players during the game were unusually aimless. They Russian serve efficiency affected the Serbian attack but they performed poorly also in the other fundamentals not depending on the opponents excellence. The spirited strong willed team ready to chase any ball, seen many times in the last years, has disappeared and who knows if in two days it will come back.
CUBA (1° POOL A)
By far the best team in the Pool A. The Cubans easily overwhelmed all the opponents but the Chinese team, with whom, six days ago, they were losing 2-0. In the third set, Santos, one of the two Cubans setters, begun serving wonderfully and after that, the Caribbean succeeded in winning three sets in a row.
The Cubans are playing unexpectedly good in defense and block, which have been often their weaker points. Obviously they rely mainly on attack and serve but, what makes the difference from the recent past, are the control and stability they seem to have finally found. The quarter final match against Serbia could turn to be effortless, but we have to take into consideration the pressure of the “in or out” Olympic match, the Serbian pride and the historical Cuban unpredictability.
They can do anything: play wonderfully or poorly and no one, not even them, can know before.
U.S.A. (2° POOL A)
The most frequent suggestion Lang Ping gave to her players during the time out is: “forget the result and focus only on the current point”. The US coach, born in China, is the most stable coach I have ever seen. She acts always like a quiet and positive leader (probably her oriental origin helps to behave in this way). She never displays any worries, also when the match is actually complicated. The North- American players take advantage of this confidence playing at their best. Both the US teams Women and Men, are standard talented but they fully exploit their skills. During the Preliminary Round the other teams have difficulty spotting the US game strategies because Lang Ping was rotating all the available players, who repay her with good performances.
CHINA (3° POOL A)
The home team has a big issue: they have only one powerful hitter and playing against the top teams turns out to be a big disadvantage. Those squads can easily foresee who would attack, thus prepare at their best to reduce the effect of the spikes.
After two defeats in a row (against Cuba and USA) they were worried and risked to lose the first set against Japan in the last Preliminary Round match. Could you imagine the pressure of the Chinese athletes playing at home with the “beloved” cousins!
Now they will face Russia and the crucial point will be: how many opportunities got in defense will they’ exploit attacking effectively?
JAPAN (4° POOL A)
I like the Japanese approach to the games. They know that they aren’t a first class team, but they play any match with great awareness without discouraging nor giving up. Japanese are extremely skilled only in defense and they keep always striving for the best. They never look at the score board and often, after the defeats, it seems that they are more concerned to evaluate their own performances than the mere results. This wise behavior was crucial in the decisive match against Poland. Japanese players were two sets ahead, when the match suddenly changed. Polish players started to block much better and easily won the third set. The fourth was more balanced but it was also won by the Polish girls.
In that conditions, the most part of the athletes would have shown signs of disappointment. Not the Japanese, they played consistently and succeeded in winning the most important match of their Olympic Tournament.
In the next match this approach won’t be enough to win against Brazil, but I’m sure that they will do their best deserving the sincere congratulations for having reached their goal: the qualification to the quarter final.
Srecno devojkama sutra u 04:00
Edited by vukotaman, 18 August 2008 - 19:36.