Matches to be played in Belgium
Matches to be played in Belgium
Austria made it to the Final Round of EuroVolley for the first time through qualification and for the seventh time overall. Their best result in the competition was an eighth place when they hosted the event in 1999. They were co-hosts (with the Czech Republic) of the European Championship in 2011, but only finished 16th after losing all of their matches. Austria’s national team is a regular participant of the European League, with their best result in the competition a third place in 2016. The following year they participated in the 2017 FIVB World League Group 3 and were able to surprise with victories over Germany and Mexico. It was Austria’s first exposure to world Volleyball since their last participation in the FIVB World Championship in 1962.
Head coach Michael Warm’s team finished their 2019 European Silver League campaign in third place with a 5-1 win-loss record, missing the final by just one set. Austria’s stars Alexander Berger - who has just become a father for a second time - and Paul Buchegger made their comebacks to the national team after long breaks due to injury.
German 51-year-old Michael Warm started coaching the men’s national team of Austria in 2010: “My team had to overcome some hurdles in the past few years to chase a spot at the EuroVolley for the first time through the qualifiers. In Belgium, we have to prove ourselves against very tough opponents. It is about trying everything to reach the knockout stage. We are looking forward to celebrating the next milestone in Austria’s Volleyball history.”
Austria’s team captain Peter Wohlfahrtstätter: “For me coming back to Belgium is very special. I was under contract with Topvolley ANTWERP for two seasons some years ago. We are going to face extraordinary opponents. Serbia are the strongest team in Pool B. I think for us, it is possible to progress from the group stage and to claim a spot in the Round of 16.”
Since the breakup of the former Czechoslovakia in 1993, Slovakia have not competed at a World Championship or Olympic Games, but they have been regular competitors in continental tournaments. They won the CEV European League twice in 2008 and 2011. Their best finish at the European Championship was a fifth place in 2011. This year they will make their 10th appearance at EuroVolley. The team competed also in the FIVB World League from 2014 - 2017. Head coach of the team is former star player Andrej Kravárik, who has been at the helm of the group since June 2017.
Andrej Kravárik, coach of Slovakia: “We know what is at stake this autumn. Our goal at EuroVolley is to be successful and we will try to advance from the pool. Some of our key players took a bit of rest to recharge the batteries after a long club season and they did not participate in the European Golden League, but we will be in full power for EuroVolley. We need to focus from the very start of our pool in Belgium.”
Tomáš Kriško, captain of Slovakia: “We are looking forward to EuroVolley; our goal will be to advance from the pool to the later stages. It will be definitely a major highlight for all of us and I hope that we will be successful. Our group is fine; we need to be concentrated from the start, because the first two matches against Spain and Austria will probably be the most important ones. It will be my second EuroVolley, but the first as a captain. I feel the honour, but on the other hand, it is a big responsibility as well.”
Spain’s goal is to regain their status on the international stage. After a glorious past, including a historic gold medal from the 2007 edition of the European Championship in Moscow, the Red Lynxes experienced an important generational change and they are now starting to reap the fruits of their hard work. Spain have featured 11 times in the Final Round of the European Championship, three times at the World Championship and twice at the Olympic Games. Spain returned to compete at EuroVolley in 2017, doing so after six years of absence. EuroVolley 2019 should further cement their comeback to the international elite after they finished the FIVB World League Group 3 in second place in 2017 and their silver-medal winning performance at the Mediterranean Games last year.
Fernando Muñoz, head coach of Spain: “For the Spanish men’s national team, it is very important to play this European Championship, the second in a row, with very young players but all of us will give everything we have to perform well and try to qualify to the knockout phase. For each player, EuroVolley will be a perfect experience and platform to improve the level of our team and progress, so that we become more competitive with each year. One goal will be to create ‘uncomfortable’ games for our opponents and win as many matches as possible. We know each team in the group very well and of course, it is a tough pool with some of the top teams in Europe but in any case the mentality must be like that.”
Jorge Fernández, captain of Spain: “We will travel to EuroVolley with great enthusiasm and the ambition to continue improving as a team. We are in a strong group with big teams, but I think we can fight for the victory with each of them. The main goal of my team has to be to play each game to the maximum and try to achieve the qualification for the next round, which would be a further step in our goal of being closer to the best teams, and an improvement from the previous European Championship. If we qualify for the knockout round, we do not have to settle for that and we have to fight to get as far as possible, being aware of the difficulty of the task, but without ruling anything out.”