Ankara, Turkey, June 29, 2012. Turkey is all ready to host the Final Four tournament of the 2012 CEV Volleyball European League - Men for the third time in the history of the competition. With Izmir and Bursa welcoming the Finals in 2006 and 2008 respectively, now the capital Ankara with its splendid Baskent Volleyball Hall will get a chance to enjoy the exciting battles for the European League title.
With both sides claiming to have traveled to Ankara with young teams, incumbent champion Slovakia will meet the Netherlands in the first semifinal match on Saturday afternoon. ”I think we have four good teams here and I also think our first opponent Slovakia is very well prepared,” Dutch head coach Edwin Benne stated. ”Of course we are as well, so I expect an interesting tournament and I am looking forward to it. Getting back into the World League? I would say this is a long-term goal for us. Right now our focus is only on the first game – the semifinal against Slovakia. It is clear that my team wants to improve in the coming years. We are building a new team with many young teams that will try to do their best.” The only time the Netherlands won the European League was back in 2006 when Turkey was also organizing the Final Round. Slovakia, on the other hand, is the only two-time winner in the history of the competition. ”We are already satisfied to be here, in the Final Four, because this year we started with a younger team,” Stefan Chrtiansky, head coach of Slovakia, played down his team’s role as reigning champion. ”We know the Netherlands is a very good team that played very well during the league round. We do not have all our players here, so it will be a very hard game for us tomorrow, but my team is very motivated and hopefully we can win and achieve our minimum goal to make it to the final.”
Interestingly, the team of Spain, that became runners-up in the past three seasons in a row, is here again to try to repeat its achievement from 2007 – the only time the Spaniards won gold in the European League. They will meet host Turkey in the second semifinal on Saturday. ”We are feeling in good shape to start the Final Four again,” Spanish mentor Fernando Muňoz Benitez commented. ”We are ready for this important match for us – the semifinal. We will do our best to make it to the final on Sunday. I know the quality of each of the Turkish players and I know that when they play at home they move up one step, so it will be a tough game for us.” Turkey is the only Final Four participant that has never won the European League, although they did join the podium twice in 2008 and 2010 when they reached the bronze medals. ”I think over the past weeks Spain proved to be the best team in the competition,” head coach of Turkey - Veljko Basic, complimented his first opponent. ”But for us this is a very important match, because we will play in front of our fans and we will try our best to play in the final.”
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Free live stream of all matches will be available at http://www.laola1.com.