Only two points lost in the group phase of 2011 European Championship for Italy. With 7 points the team of Mauro Berruto advanced to the next round from the 1st place.
2011 European Championship, Preliminary Round, Pool C
Just before the opening match on the European Championship, played in Austria and Czech Republic, the Italian coach Mauro Berruto said: “There’s no time to sleep. It’s time to play!”. With that motto his team started its adventure in the battle for the European Champions title.
Berruto admitted that he’d prepared his team well to this tournament, he’d achieved his targets set before the preparation period, his team had played (successfully!) with many taxing opponents (the last bigger tournament was Wagner’s Memorial, played in Poland, won by Italy before Russia, Czech Rep. and Poland). “Now it’s time for exams” – was saying the coach before the first match. And for now every “test” they took they passed almost perfectly!
However, the first match against Belgium brought a little surprise. The first set the Italian team lost 22:25, but eventually they won the whole game over the 6th team in Europe (and the 41st in the world) 3-1. In the 2nd day, besides lower efficiency in attack and reception, the players of Berruto won over Finland in three sets. After these 2 matches (and 3 matches played by the opponents) Italy needed only 1 set to get promoted directly to Quarterfinals. The 3rd game against France was the most tied one. Italy won the 1st set not without problems (28:26), but after that they apparently relaxed, played without pressure. In the end it was France that won the match in tie-break. The whole Italian team played well, but one column in the statistics deserves more attention: block. 10 blocks in the 1st match (4 of Luigi Mastrangelo), 13 in the 2nd (8 of Mastrangelo) and 16 in the 3rd (4 – Mastrangelo, 5 – Birarelli). Not without reason the player of BreBanca Lannutti Cuneo got an award for the best blocker in the Wagner’s Memorial tournament.
The Italian team advanced to Quarterfinals from the 1st place in Pool C. They will play with the winner of the Play-off match between Slovenia and Finland.
Ranking after the preliminary round:
1. Italy 7 (advancement to 1/4 Finals)
2. France 5 (Play-offs with Turkey)
3. Finland 3 (Play-offs with Slovenia)
4. Belgium 3