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05/06/2018 20:00
Four teams to battle for two spots to make it to Golden #EuroLeagueM Finals
2018 CEV Volleyball Golden European League - Men

Luxembourg, June 5, 2018. Two spots to travel to Karlovy Vary and contest the Final Four of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Golden European League – Men will be at stake on Wednesday when the pool stage of the competition reaches its climax. Estonia need a 3-0 or 3-1 win from their home match with Slovakia to secure first place in Pool A and their journey to the Czech Republic – and not to wait for the outcome of the match between Belgium and Sweden. Portugal and Finland fight for the top spot in Pool C – with Portugal hosting Czech Republic and Finland playing in Spain in an effort to continue their campaign. Turkey have already secured the top position in Pool B courtesy of four wins in a row and a 2-3 loss to the Netherlands.

Pool A

Estonia vs. Slovakia

•    Estonia need a 3-0 or 3-1 win to secure their spot in the Final Four so that their fate will not depend on the outcome of the other match in Pool A between Belgium and Slovakia.
•    As a lot is at stake for team Estonia, the organisers expect a full house in Rakvere.

Kert Toobal, captain of Estonia: “Everyone knows what is at stake in this game. If we manage to take a 3-0 or 3-1 win, we will qualify for the Final Four. Slovakia on the other hand has no pressure, so they will probably take some risks. For us the result depends mostly on our own performance.”

Andrej Kravarik, coach of Slovakia: “We must try to play well and give 100%. Estonia play on a good level and it is not surprising that they are leading the group. They have been together for a long time, have great personalities among their players and they are a real team.”

Belgium vs. Sweden

•    Before the start of the game with Sweden, the home team and the local supporters will be following the matchup between Estonia and Slovakia to see if they still have a chance to reach the Final Four scheduled for next week in Karlovy Vary (CZE).
•    Thomas Pardon is not on the roster for Belgium due to illness. Elias Thys will be taking his spot.
•    In the Swedish team, there are three men with a Belgian connection: Erik Sundberg, Dardan Lushtaku and coach Johan Isacsson.

Johan Isacsson, coach of Sweden: “After the 3-0 victory against Slovakia my team is motivated to continue on this good way. But that does not mean that we are strong enough to beat the Belgians.”

Brecht Van Kerckhove, assistant coach of Belgium: “If the Estonians could not win their match with Slovakia, we will be motivated to win clearly from Sweden, so that we can play the Final Four next week and perhaps even the FIVB Challenger Cup a week later. But I am realistic: normally Estonia will win this group.”

Pool B

Slovenia vs. The Netherlands

•    Slovenia will be looking for their second consecutive win in the CEV Golden European League. Motivated by their success against Ukraine on Sunday, the players coached by Samo Miklavc gained a lot of self-confidence and are poised to meet the Netherlands in Maribor.
•    Slovenia need a win to overtake Sweden and Spain to avoid the last place among the 12 teams competing in the 2018 CEV Golden European League.
•    The Netherlands already lost their chances to qualify for the Golden European League Final Four tournament in the Czech Republic after losing to Turkey and Ukraine in the second and third leg of the competition, but the Dutch team will still be motivated enough to conclude the competition with their fourth win in six matches.
•    Slovenia’s best scorers in the first match in Doetinchem were brothers Tonček and Žiga Štern who together contributed no less than 35 points, but Tonček won’t be seen on the court this time due to a rib injury. On the other hand, Wouter ter Maat (22 points) and Maarten van Garderen (19 points) will both be at Gido Vermeulen’s disposal.   

Samo Miklavc, head coach of Slovenia: “Our players needed to rest a little before the match against the Netherlands. We still have problems with injuries, but things are getting a little better now. Although it is already clear that Turkey is the team which will play at the Final Four tournament, the last match will still be very important to us. We would like to win and finish the league in the best possible way.”

Sašo Štalekar, player of Slovenia: “We knew there was nothing to lose already in the match against Ukraine. We also did not want to disappoint our supporters and ourselves. We really wanted to win and I think the recipe for the match against the Netherlands should be the same. We have to leave our hearts on the court and remain focused throughout the match. I hope we will succeed in claiming another win.”

Ukraine vs. Turkey

•    Turkey claimed four straight wins and despite losing to the Netherlands on Saturday, they qualified for the Final Four – the only team to have done so next to hosts Czech Republic.
•    Ukraine have won two matches out of five this far.
•    Ukraine are the gold medal winners from the 2017 edition of the European League.

Pool C

Spain vs. Finland

•    The city of Soria will be hosting an international match after many years. Curiously, the last match in Soria was a clash between Spain and Finland back in 1999.
•    Finland have won the last five matches in a row with Spain. The last win for Spain came in the 2008 edition of the FIVB World League.
•    Both teams want a victory to achieve their respective goals. Finland are in contention for a spot in the Final Four while Spain want to finish third in the pool.
•    Libero Daniel Ruiz Posadas is the only ‘new player’ for Spain in this match.  
•    Soria is one of the most important Volleyball cities in Spain – and this should account for a large crowd.
•    A week ago, Finland claimed a close and dramatic 3-2 victory when hosting Spain in Turku.  

Pablo Bugallo, player of Spain: “Sadly, we do not stand any chance to continue our journey in the Golden European League anymore. However, we still want to do our best and end the competition with a great win and to improve the level of our performance. Soria was the capital city of Spanish Volleyball; there is a long tradition, and the people here have always been living Volleyball with passion. I am sure that many people will come to the sports hall to support us.”  
Tuomas Sammelvuo, coach of Finland: “We do not think about the Final Four. We wish to improve our game, and especially to improve with this young team. I think that the last thing my team has to think about is results. We should only think about the next ball, that is it.”  

Portugal vs. Czech Republic

•    Czech Republic has already secured their participation in the Final Four, since they will host the event in Karlovy Vary on June 13-14.
•    Portugal need to win, once again, against the Czech Republic to finish first in Pool C and book a ticket to Karlovy Vary.
•    Portugal have beaten all their opponents in the pool this far, i.e. Finland (twice), Spain and Czech Republic, and will be chasing their fifth victory in the group.  

Hugo Silva, coach of Portugal, does not hide his feelings: “It was a happy journey for our team this far. Now, it is true that if until the match against Finland the pressure was not there, now that we are one match away from the qualification to the Final Four, the pressure is huge. Finland was a good test and now Czech Republic will be a crucial test, because if we get this far, we will fight for participation in the Final Four to become reality and the team will do everything to make it happen. Anyway, nothing can take the merit away from what these players have accomplished in this first edition of the Golden European League.”

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News nr. 6 of 27
06/06/2018 23:35:00
Estonia, Portugal complete Golden #EuroLeagueM Final Four
03/06/2018 23:46:00
Turkey off to #EuroLeagueM Final Four following Sunday’s results

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