Slovenia took their first ever victory in a European Championship against Portugal (Pool B) and managed to edge Ukraine in five sets on their road to the 8th Finals in the co-host city of Łódź, where they play Pool D winners Germany. Later on Sunday, hosts Poland take on Spain for a spot in the quarterfinals of the continental showpiece event. 

Slovenia are certainly hungry for some more historic achievements in this Championship. As for Germany, they delivered an impressive performance in Pool D in Slovakia and remained unbeaten in all group matches. Now they are expecting a tough game against Slovenia.

Felix Koslowski, head coach for Germany: “We played really well in Slovakia. We won all games in our pool because we were presenting the same level throughout the whole group stage. Here in Łódź we must stay concentrated and put maximum effort because Slovenia is a tough team to play. They are very well-balanced, have a lot of potential in defense, their middle-blocker Sasa Planinsec might not be tall but she is very athletic and smart. Their outside-spiker is really strong too. They truly deserved to make it to the next round so it’s going to be a very interesting matchup.”

Eva Mori, setter for Slovenia explains that the team is definitely out for more: “We reached our goal but we don’t want to stop here. There is no pressure now, we can surprise everybody even more and this is our huge advantage at this stage. We know Germany is a very stable team, they fight for every ball so it will be difficult to defeat them, but if we play relaxed and enjoy our volleyball – there can be more surprises to come. We need to keep our reception level high, because if there’s reception there’s better attack and eventually easier balls to defend. We will try to slower Germany’s game, their volleyball is very fast and athletic, so it will be important not to let them do what they like the most.”

Spain came to Łódź from Slovakia on Friday after they defeated Belarus and Switzerland in Pool D. They ended up fourth in the group stage and will face Poland, who finished second in Pool B after losing to Belgium and edging Italy. The fan crowd in Atlas Arena in Łódź are massive and will do anything to see their national team progress to the next stage of the competition. 

Helia Gonzalez, captain of Spain: “Playing in the 8th Final is a dream come true. ”We do not have the opportunity to play at this level so often. I think we have to try our best and enjoy volleyball. We will play against one of the best teams in Europe. We know that there will be a very large audience. Nobody is ready for such an atmosphere until you see it live. We played at the Atlas Arena once, some of us remember this hot atmosphere. It will definitely be a crazy day.”

Agnieszka Kąkolewska, captain of Poland say that rest and analyses are the secret to overpower Spain : “Before the match against Spain the coach will give us some rest. We have only one workout and regeneration. Today we will analyse the team of Spain in tactical terms. We also practised in terms of what rivals can show on the court. Perhaps we needed this defeat with Belgium. We had to reset quickly and showed that we could still win something.”

Jacek Nawrocki, coach of Poland: “I think we already know everything about the Spanish team. We have worked them out in every element. This is a team that has a very good service. If they risk, they can win with a theoretically better team. They are high potential girls. Two players play in the Italian and German leagues. Therefore, we must be ready for a good game in reception and use our serve to keep them away from the net.”