Russian team before European championships 2014

In the second half of June the Russian team took part in two international tournaments – first in Zagreb, Croatia and Portugalete, Spain. In both, the participating teams were very strong. We met with five leading outfits – Croatia, Italy, Spain, Greece and France. All have own style of play and boast world class players in their ranks.

Apart from being young, most of our players have a very limited international experience on a senior level. At the Croatian tournament we had seven athletes who had participated at the junior world championships last August. In Spain there were five of them since Ivan Suchkov and Nikita Dereviankin were performing at the Russian Junior Spartakiad for the Moscow Region team (and won the title). That is why our participation in the subject events has been extremely useful, both from the standpoint of preparation towards the upcoming European championships and in the long run.

At the tournament in Zagreb

At the tournament in Zagreb

All our players have had equal opportunities in the pool. We experimented with the line-ups as well as individual and collective tactics. Undoubtedly, after the tournaments and previous scrimmages in Montenegro and Serbia with those countries’ teams and the visiting Australian side, our players have gained in the quality of technique-tactical actions.  Their mutual understanding has improved too. In addition to the multiple playing experiences, we also gained the experience of ‘different’ umpiring, often with ‘another’ interpretation of the game situations which was also very useful. I have to say that – as previously mentioned many times – there is no consistency of refereeing not only between tournaments but also in a single event or a match.

Unfortunately, during the events in Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia and Spain some of our athletes were injured or became ill – that in turn negatively affected their preparation and the team’s performance. In the first two matches in Zagreb against Croatia and Spain we committed many unforgivable mistakes and – as a consequence – lost with big margins. Yet, the encounters that we have had so far showed that despite youthfulness and the lack of experience our team are not only competitive but should strive to win against any opponent. The results are telling that the level between opponents is close and ‘easy’ matches at the European championships are not foreseen for anyone.

Our men are jelling well as a team. I have no doubts that at the EC in Budapest we’ll be displaying the highest degree of discipline and fighting spirit irrespective of how any given match is going to unfold or what tournament position we are at, and will do everything possible to achieve the best outcomes. The final line-up for the European championships will be determined at the last camp that is held from 5-11 July.

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

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