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NOW IN VIENNA: Finland, France and Italy

Matti und Mikko Oivanen – Finland‘s Turbo-Twins!  

fintopMany teams would be happy to have just one Oivanen in their ranks. Finland has two of them: Matti and Mikko Oivanen are probably the most renowned twins on the volleyball courts in Europe.

Outside the court it is difficult to tell them apart because at the first glace the two resemble each other like two volleyballs. However, if both are on the court the difference is obvious: Mikko acts a swing spiker while Matti’s role is that of the middleblocker.

 In 2005 they celebrated their debut in the Finish national team on the same day. In 2006 their paths separated when they started to play for different clubs. Ever since then their careers have gathered momentum. Both play for clubs outside Finland in Europe’s top leagues.

 In the preliminary matches of Pool C in Innsbruck the two brothers proved their value for the Finish team. In the decisive encounter Mikko was best scorer and made life difficult for the Belgian block. Also Matti demonstrated his quality in the block and showed his big potential in the service scoring three winners in one set in the match against Italy.

 FRANCE – the star is the team
Even without their superstar Guillaume Samica the French players showed good moves on the court in their preliminary encounters. However, “les Bleus” have to face the criticism that they were not able to make use of many of their chances in the prelims.

 They had to fight hard to win against Finland and in the125-minute marathon match against Belgium (31-29, 34-36, 25-20, 26-24) they even had to accept a defeat. Also against Italy the French almost stumbled but fought back from two sets down to defeat Italy and hence claim the second place in the final standings of the group.

France’s head coach Blain: “We had the chance to win Pool C because we dominated the whole match. If you let go so many chances it can easily happen that things go totally wrong and you lose”.

Particularly in the encounter against Italy the French substitute players proved to be of great value as they really turned around the match: Benjamin Toniutti replaced the slightly injured Pierre Pujol and Nicolas Marechal took the position of opposite Antonin Rouzier.

What if Italy would play more concentrated from the beginning of the set?
This is a question which Italy’s coach Mauro Berruto has probably already asked himself. „I don’t know why we always have a bad start into the sets but I know that we have to get to grips with this problem. Fortunately we did not have to pay for this problem, yet.”

However, the fact that despite this weakness Italy finished first in Pool C illustrates the quality of the players around captain Cristian Savani. What could cause problems for the Italians is their service: in the twelve sets they played so far they totaled 57 service errors (i.e. more than 20 percent of all services) and scored “only” 18 service points. If this ratio improved, however, Italy will definitely be a dangerous opponent for all other teams. Their block – according to coach Berruto their „biggest asset“  - scored 39 points with the experienced Luigi Mastrangelo standing out with 16 successful blocks.

 

MATCH SCHEDULE IN VIENNA

Play-offs
September 14: PO3: France - Turkey, 15:30h
September 14: PO1: Slovenia - Finland, 20:10h

Quarter finals

September 15: QF3: Italy – winner PO1 16:00h
September 15: QF1: Serbia – winner PO3 19:00h