Coaches from left to right: Gheorghe Cretu (Estonia), Fernando Muñoz (Spain), Jorge Azair (Mexico) and Andrea Giani (Germany)
Leon, Mexico, June 16, 2017 - The first major winner of 2017 FIVB World League will be decided this weekend as Group 3 Finals are ready to start in Leon, with four teams eager to be atop of that podium - hosts Mexico, last year’s runner-ups Germany, fellow Europeans Spain and debutants Estonia will be the stars of the show for the next two days in Mexican soil.
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Coached by volleyball legend Andrea Giani, the same that helped Slovenia to frustrate the German dreams in 2016 Group 3 final match, now Germany will go for their rematch but they initially need to take on Spain on the first semifinal match, scheduled at 5 PM (local) and only a week after their last faceoff - a 3-0 win for Germany in Linz, Austria. Later on, crowd favourites Mexico will try to rock the Domo de la Feria against rookies Estonia at 7.30 PM (local), as their first ever encounter at any FIVB official competition.
On the verge of facing the last trial for Group 3 gold medal, all four coaches shared their thoughts about the upcoming challenge:
Gheorghe Cretu, Estonia coach: “Being here was our goal from the beginning, because who is able to make it into the final 16 teams of the European Championship is ready for the high level of the World League. We have working with these young players for the last four years and they have grown, they’re playing in good clubs abroad and the progress is clear. Now, I expect a high quality on every game as all the teams have the same desire to win - nobody reaching a decisive stage like this one comes just to participate.”
Andrea Giani, Germany coach: “We have been playing to win from the first match, aiming to this Final Four and now we want to do the same. Of course it’s not easy, every team here is worth it and has good players, but for us is important to keep the quality of our game. We’re thinking step by step and we’re ready - you just have to be at a final stage like this one. It’s not so much about the physical condition, it’s about the mind. I’m always telling the players about showing their fire, their sacrifice, and this is what I consider important at this point.”
Jorge Azair, Mexico coach: “We are aware this last pool is very difficult, as any of these three teams we’re hosting is able to put a fight against any Group 2 squad. They’re tall European sides, taller than us and with an organised blocking system, but we have realised that we’re getting closer, sometimes winning and sometimes playing at their pace. And to play at home it’s always a motivation, the boys know how to do it and the crowd is very passionate, acting like an extra player. Hopefully this boost will help us achieve our goals.”
Fernando Muñoz, Spain coach: “The last two years we fell short of this qualification, being only one win or even one set away of the Finals. Today we are finally here, so we’re focused on enjoying this Final Four and of course on going for the championship. I think we have improved on recent years - when we started our project the players were very young and they needed to live and deal with several situations. Now we have a very tough match against Germany, a team with a lot of strength and potential, but we’ll try to change the outcome of last week and move on to the final.”