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02/06/2018 07:04
Final Four spots up for grabs this weekend in Golden #EuroLeagueM
2018 CEV Volleyball Golden European League - Men

Luxembourg, June 1, 2018. Action in the 2018 edition of the CEV Volleyball Golden European League – Men resumes on Saturday with two matches and another four following on Sunday with very much at stake as the top-performing teams try to secure their participation in the Final Four due to take place in Karlovy Vary (CZE) on June 13-14, 2018. Estonia have a perfect record of four wins in Pool A – the same feat achieved by Turkey in Pool B. On the other hand, Portugal and Finland will be clashing on Sunday for the top spot in Pool C – where they share the same win-loss record (3-1) after four rounds.

Pool A

Belgium vs. Estonia

•    The team of Estonia arrived already on Thursday in Kortrijk, coming straight from their previous game in Sweden.
•    The match Belgium vs. Estonia takes place in Kortrijk on Sunday evening (5.30 p.m.), while Kortrijk is playing host to the Finals of the national Beach Volleyball tour, probably with participation of Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle. After the Beach Volleyball finals, the fans will be able to witness the matchup between the Red Dragons and Estonia.
•    Estonia are leading the pool with four wins in as many matches, including a 3-1 victory from their home match with the Red Dragons.
•    Tomas Rousseaux is taking some rest after a little knee injury and Elias Thys will be replacing him.

Sam Deroo, team captain of Belgium: “I felt I was fit even after a long season with Zaksa, so I said to the coach that I am ready to show the young guys in the team the right way to play in an international tournament. We will be trying to put the Estonians under pressure. In that case, they must win their last match in Slovakia and that can make them a bit nervous.”

Gheorghe Cretu, coach of Estonia: “We need to win one game to secure our participation in the Final Four. As we can do it here in Kortrijk, we don’t let it go.”

Sweden vs. Slovakia

•    Team Sweden is the still looking for their first victory in the Golden European League. The next opportunity to collect a much wished-for win comes Saturday versus Slovakia. When the two sides clashed last week, Slovakia stood as victors after a 3-1 decision on home soil.
•    The arena of Rosvalla in Nyköping will host the women’s Silver European League Final Four, June 16-17.
•    Tomas Krisko is the best scorer for Slovakia so far in the Golden European League with 47 points in three games.
•    Swedish opposite Fredrik Gustavsson is the third best scorer so far in the Golden European League with 72 points in four games.

Pool B

Slovenia vs. Ukraine

•    After four rounds of competition, Slovenia is the team with the worst score out of 12 participants in the 2018 Golden European League, and now has only two chances left to improve their position in the standing.
•    Slovenia was quite unlucky in this year’s European League, since the team suffered from many injuries, preventing coach Samo Miklavc from playing at least one match with all players from his list. The last one lost was 22-year-old Tonček Štern, who did not travel to Turkey due to a rib fracture. He will not be able to play against Ukraine and the Netherlands either.  
•    Ukraine’s strongest weapons for the first match in Ivano-Frankivsk were captain Oleh Plotnytskyi and opposite Vasyl Tupchii. The two lefthanders, who were quite a mystery for the Slovenian blockers and defence, scored no less than 33 points together.

Samo Miklavc, head coach of Slovenia: “Although we lost all four matches this far, my players are still highly motivated and willing to fight against Ukraine on Sunday. We would really like to win, but we know we will have to do some things much better to fulfil this goal. We have to receive much better than we did in the last match against Turkey and we have to raise our performance to a higher level.”

Matija Jereb, player of Slovenia: “We really had a lot of problems with injuries, but now it’s time to stop thinking about it. We have to focus on our performance, play on a higher level and try to win the match against Ukraine. I really believe we can do it.”

The Netherlands vs. Turkey

Coming soon…

Pool C

Spain vs. Czech Republic

•    The men’s national team of Spain is returning to play in Valladolid for the first time in seven years.
•    Spain and Czech Republic have claimed four points from their four matches this far.
•    Last week, the Czech Republic claimed a 3-1 victory in Prague. The Red Lynxes from Spain want to make amends for that setback and celebrate their second victory in the competition.
•    Spain will be resorting to the same 14 players that have contested the last couple of matches in the pool.
•    Ruben Lorente and Francisco Iribarne will make their national team debut on home soil after contesting the away matches with Finland and Czech Republic.
•    Shortly before the match, a Pequevoley event involving 200 young players will be taking place close to the Huerta del Rey sports hall.

Andrés Villena, player of Spain: “We know we can win this match. In Prague, we were close to forcing the tiebreak, despite a bad start. The key of the match was the poor start we had. We expect to show a good performance and claim the victory.”

Miguel Ángel Fornés, player of Spain: “In this kind of competitions, we cannot relax at any moment. In Prague, we started very bad, and they used this to their advantage to win the match. We must take advantage from the fact that we are playing at home, with the support of our fans, and show from the beginning of the match that we have what it takes to win.”

Portugal vs. Finland

•    If Portugal win once more against Finland, they will take the lead in the pool and they are eager to reach the Final Four that will be held in Karlovy Vary.
•    Portugal won their last two matches by 3-2, in Finland and in Czech Republic.
•    From the 29 matches played between these two teams since the year 2000, Portugal have won 12 and the Finns 17.
•    Portugal captain Alexandre Ferreira is currently the top scorer in the competition across all pools with 88 points.

Hugo Silva, coach of Portugal: “I am well aware of the importance of this match for the standing in Pool C and for the morale of my team, especially for the younger players. I will not want to miss the opportunity to give the Portuguese public in Matosinhos one more joy.”

Tuomas Sammelvuo, coach of Finland: “We want to maintain the leadership in the pool although we are still searching for stability in our game.”

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