NEWS

Date: 12 May 2018, 10:49
Source: CEV
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Well-attended media meeting sets tone for thrilling Final Four tournament

One day before the Champions League Final Four action in the Basket-Hall starts, the protagonists of the tournament gathered in the beautiful Mirage Hotel for a meeting with the press. Many Russian and international media attended the meeting to interview the head coaches and captains of the four participating teams.

The press meeting in the Mirage Hotel turned out to be a friendly rendezvous between players, coaches, former stars and journalists. A spontaneous Italian reunion took place when the coaches Lorenzo Bernardi and Andrea Gardini met with their former teammates Samuele Papi and Andrea Zorzi, who travelled to Kazan as TV commentators for Fox Sports Italy.

With the Champions League cup as a shiny witness, the coaches and captains talked with the media about their hopes and expectations. Below, there is a comprehensive recapitulation of the interviews.

Vladimir Alekno, head coach of Zenit KAZAN: “PERUGIA is a team consisting of players from the highest world volleyball caste. They have just won the Italian championship. No average team wins a championship of such level. PERUGIA is a very strong team.”

Alexander Butko, captain of Zenit KAZAN: “The Basket-Hall has been the home ground for Zenit KAZAN for several seasons, before they constructed the Saint Petersburg Volleyball centre. Even though the hall is big, it is also very compact. The 7,000 spectators will be comfortable here.”

Lorenzo Bernardi, head coach of Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA: “Last weekend was very special for us, since we won the first Italian league title in the history of the club. However, like always, the time to enjoy and celebrate was very short, and we had to start thinking about this weekend immediately. The Champions League is the most important event in European volleyball and we are facing a very tough opponent tomorrow.”

“Until now, we have played some great volleyball this season. Our team improved a lot, and we have made an important step, not only in the game but also from a mental standpoint. For sure, we are more ready to face Zenit KAZAN than we were last year, when we lost the final in Rome. Now we are stronger in the head, and I think this is the most important thing. We are ready to fight against one of the stronger teams in the world, maybe the strongest one. I said to my players that we have one big chance, because if we win, we will probably go down in Volleyball history, not only in Italy but also in Europe.”

Luciano De Cecco, captain of Sir Colussi Sicoma PERUGIA: “Celebrating the Italian league title last weekend was a very special moment for the players and the club. However, now I think we have to forget about this success a little, since we will have to focus on the matches here in Kazan. You don’t get an opportunity like this every year.”

Giampaolo Medei, head coach of Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA: “Our preparation towards the Final Four was a little bit difficult because last Sunday we lost the fifth and last match in the Italian league finals. Although there was a little frustration, we rested and recovered physically to build up energy for the really important semi-final coming up tomorrow.”

Dragan Stankovic, captain of Cucine Lube CIVITANOVA: “The trip towards Kazan was long, but we have had similar situations a lot of times during our careers and also this year, so we are ready to fight.”

Andrea Gardini, head coach of Zaksa KEDZIERZYN-KOZLE: “We are ready and we will try to play our best volleyball. The level of this tournament is really, really high. We will try to reach our top level, because to compete with teams like those playing here, we will have to present the best we can.”

Benjamin Toniutti, captain of Zaksa KEDZIERZYN-KOZLE: “We need to play our best volleyball to have a chance against Cucine Lube. There is no pressure on us, since I think we are not the favourites. It is good for our club that we qualified for this Final Four, for the fourth time in history. We are really looking forward to this event.”