Posts by YavorD

    Nice (long) post.

    But with so much compliments for Slovenia, could you now take a moment going back to your post in another thread where I mentioned Poland could think of Slovenia as a stronger opponent than France, and if so, the OGQ schedule Poland designed should not be thought of lacking sportsmanship (which was based on the assumption that France was stronger)?

    If you want to accuse others of something guilty, it's your responsibility to to show strong enough evidence beyond reasonable doubt. Now that Poland lost to Slovenia again, but beat France 3:0 in Paris, just 1.5 month after the OGQ, I believe it is within reasonable doubt whom Poland thought of as a stronger opponent when setting OGQ schedule. You can't convincingly exclude the possibility that Poland considered Slovenia stronger (as least as an opponent for Poland). So the "unsportsmanship" allegation cannot be convicted.

    And now to the next one. Amazing how you still have that opinion on the schedule. Let's do the exercise once more, fine.

    First, I wanted to make compliments and write about Slovenia. Users focus on bigger teams, they don't pay attention to other or smaller teams. I pay attention to all, as much as I can, so I wanted to write about a team that has been overlooked and underestimated. I didn't like the fact that Slovenia was called a 'not strong' team or that they weren't given credit for their overall development in the past years. That's the reason for my post, I can do similar analysis for almost every team out there, by the way. No need to write anything about France or Poland, though, they are well-known and a lot has been said.

    Second, about you coming back and bringing some momentum facts. Yes, what you wrote was about momentum because you brought facts from a tournament at the end of September about a tournament that was played at the beginning of August. A month and a half later, Slovenia reached a much better momentum and beat Poland, whereas Poland beat France in the most meaningless match in a tournament (without taking anything away from their success, a totally deserved win and medal) between two teams that had to deal with disappointment and exhaustion. Poland were exhausted because of the schedule, France because of the late night letdown against Serbia a few hours earlier. Still, of course, Poland were clearly the better team, credit where credit is due, again. Does it mean that Slovenia, a now finallist, just like 4 years ago, is a better team than Poland and France? Clearly not! And no sane person would choose to play Poland or France instead of facing Slovenia even now, 2 finals later. Because Slovenia peaked when they needed it but it doesn't make them Europe's best team, or even better than the other two. So, if you again claim that you would choose Poland/France rather Slovenia, because Slovenia is your scariest opponent, or that the Polish Federation saw Slovenia as their main rival, then you and the Polish Federation should either be treated by a specialist or should focus on another sport. I doubt the Polish governing body set their minds elsewhere but eliminating France, even if they had full respect for Slovenia.

    Last, this discussion still doesn't change the fact, and you wanted facts, that France had to play all 3 matches within a span of about 40-42 hours. So the unsportsmanship label is still very much valid. But I guess this is something everyone else saw and commented but not you or the Polish users (no offense intended, I am summarizing the discussion).

    Hmm, I am struggling to connect how all this you wrote is relevant to our discussion before. Fine, let's go in details.

    You are talking about attendance and general interest in volleyball here. What this ECH showed us, and not just this one, it has been similar also in previous editions, is that interest in volleyball is not great when France, Slovenia, Belgium, or the Netherlands are not playing. I could only watch set 1 yesterday, I don't know how many people left for the ceremony, and still is it the first not-well attended ceremony? People often leave when the game ends, unfortunately, or don't buy tickets to watch other teams. It has to do with lack of interest rather than not giving credit to the team out there. I don't like it either, this is a general problem in non-volleyball/pure football countries. In my opinion, it has nothing to do with arrogance, rather with ignorance or preferences set elsewhere. But I don't really see it as a sign of ignorance, the way you obivously felt it.

    I've also been to tournaments, not way too many but enough, both as a fan and as an accredited journalist. Apart from the ECH finals in Copenhagen in 2013, the organization has been great everywhere, not just in Poland, but in Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Bulgaria. Of course, you guys in Poland always make a terrific job supporting teams and attending matches, the atmosphere is great and credits have been shared everywhere, including here many times, for this. This is great for volleyball and for fans. It's not really the organization but the atmosphere that makes Poland more special when hosting events, from what I have witnessed, because your volleyball culture is different. You face no problem transferring this energy to the club season the moment the NT season is over and this is remarkable. And maybe this interest and volleyball culture create this superiority complex I've seen and people here have mentioned that you are/feel you are better than the rest. Arrogance shouldn't be mistaken with ignorance, as I wrote above. Arrogance, to me, is not giving credit, as you did, that's why I had to reply to your post, to a team that stopped Poland 3 times already and still questioning whether they are good or whether they can play volleyball away from home (when they have won matches in Slovenia, Poland, and Bulgaria). Arrogance is Polish fans constantly making excuses for their defeats with bad refereeing, bad schedule, or I don't know what else (I am not making this up, there are other forums and social platforms where people actually made fun of this. Agree that I can't be everywhere and make you screenshots of everything to prove it to you). Arrogance is still having (even as captain) and proudly defending Kubiak after what he said this year. Arrogance is what he said. Arrogance is the attitude your federation shows towards journalists applying for accreditation for events in Poland. You don't have to believe me here, you can ask Jiri Popelka, the current vice-president of the Czech Federation and his opinion on the processes in Poland. Or even other former Volleycountry colleagues who have had the experience. Arrogance is when only Polish players complain for almost every single thing when they play abroad. You gave an example of a Polish plane arranged to pick up your own NT, the most important and popular NT in Poland, in order to attend matches. This is great, I don't see how this is any different than what some countries might've done in the same situation. Even if not, this is an example of an action how much you care for your volleybal, not an example of an attitude towards something/someone outside.

    I can go on but this is not my point. Please, understand that I am not deliberately pointing fingers at Polish fans and players, I rather try to understand the reasons for this and hope that, through the means of communication, reasoning, or even defeats, Poland can just learn a bit more humility.

    We have congratuled and acknowledged Polish players and success tons of times here. You can check older threads. Yes, no one did it yet for their bronze medal result, so let me be the first one because it was an absolutely deserved achievement, following the obviously great performance against France and throughout the entire tournamant! Poland had only one defeat and they, I am sure, deserved a place in the final, for they are undoutbtedly a great team. You said no one made compliments but this is not true. Just yesterday or the day before kyle7in1 made the greatest compliment you can probably have - that he doesn't like the NT at all, yet he thinks they are a great team and play great volleyball quite often.

    Last but not least, I don't know how many people watched the bronze medal match because often it is the saddest and least contested match in a tournament. Maybe that's the reason people didn't congratulate Poland. There is also another reason. People are used to Russia, Poland, Italy, Brazil winning medals, so they don't make an extra fuss when they do it again.

    In history each team has one bad day in tournament (see Poland-Argentina or USA-Poland last WCH) and together with exceptional high level of opponent means surprise. I do not underestimate Slovenia but we have to see their real strenght in Paris without home crowd ???

    Sorry, I have to write something here. This is the Polish arrogance people here are talking about, coming from fans, players, media, and their federation. You can 'see' whatever you want in Paris, the rest of Europe/the world saw it already years ago, regardless of how the final will end. I would be waaaay more humble if my team lost 3 times in a row at, in this case, consecutive ECHs.

    Thank you, FlyingCrow for the comment, it saved me a lot of typing :D Also, definitely not a bad way to write your first post here!

    Who cares if Slovenia can be considered a real world-class team, a strong team, or just a very good team? What matters is how they play, even achievements are sometimes unobjective. Yes, they don't even have proper subs, their starting 7 are not necessarily all super stars or even amazing players, but it seems to work quite well at times when they play together and under the guidance of a good coach. It's not just a one-time wonder, they repeated this success 4 years ago in Bulgaria, playing abroad. They even won their right to participate at the World League/VNL twice, if I recall correctly, making it actually to the group of the world's strongest teams. Yes, I wrote it correctly, strongest teams. For they are undoubtedly a strong team. With that limited amount of good players for the NT, they can't win tournaments, although they can make bigger teams like Russia, Italy, Poleonia, Bulgaria suffer, yet 2 finals is quite a remarkable achievement. By the way, no one claims that after Greece won the football Euro or Slovenia won the Basket Euro they miraculously become the best in the world, yet they don't have to be at all. Winning that trophy, or in Slovenia's volleyball case, reaching 2 finals in a span of 4 years, is totally enough for a place in history. And that for a country that is 20-something years old. Product of the Yugoslavian school, but young nevertheless.

    By the way, the first signs that this Slovenian generation can play volleyball came already in 2007 when Autocommerce Bled, predecessor of ACH Volley, won the Top Teams Cup in Italy against Modena with Urnaut and Gasparini in the roster. Plus a few other former NT members, such as Skorc, Flajs, Kamnik, Smuc, Cuturic, Cebron, Plesko, Satler.

    I am happy with how the championship unfolded. This tournament proved that the expansion wasn't such a bad idea. It took a few upsets before this thread attracted people again, last night there were a lot of visitors here. And judging by the amount of posts I had to read today, too. Not necessarily a great discussion, but I will take it as it is :) I guess even the ones who were complaining at the beginning found some joy watching the ECH. That's why it IS a serious tournament and we, the Europeans, like it a lot.…terani-esclusi-in-estate/

    According to this article, Prandi will continue being the coach of Bulgaria if he calls back Bratoev twins, Uchikov, Nikolov and Ivanov.

    What do you think YavorD ?

    If I were Prandi, I would quit immediately. He shouldn't have returned to coach the NT whose federation made him a fool the last time in the first place, but I will finally make piece with that fact (that he agreed to return for some wild reason). The Bulgarian Federation can demand whatever they want, however, it is their job only to plan and judge based on progress/results or whatever, and not to intervene with the coach's decisions, for he takes full responsibility for the selection. This ultimatum is a clear intervention and no self-respecting coach/person should ever accept it. bvolley is probably right, they didn't fire him only because there might be a compensation clause in the contract, knowing in advance what happened the last time around, or to any coach who doesn't accept interventions, for that matter. With this federation, you should always read between the lines.

    Of course, the federation members are the first that have to go, but let's not open this topic again. I would like Prandi to stay long term and I want to him to have both the time and the freedom to make his own choices. I didn't like many of his actions/decisions in 2019 but to not include the rejected players for the major tournaments is actually something I almost completely agree with (as the majority of volleyball fans whose opinions I came across, by the way, the Bratoev brothers aren't quite popular). I just wouldn't call Kadankov, Dimitrov, and the young Petrov instead, to start with. Parapunov was a must, in my opinion, to give an example.

    Anyway, Bulgaria won't qualify under these circumstances (destructive Olympic qualifer in January) regardless of whether there is Prandi, the Bratoev brothers, Niki Nikolov, Uchikov, Sokolov, etc. This is self-created drama diverting the public focus away from the real problems (trademark for Bulgarian governors). Which are that Bulgarian volleyball needs a brand new structure and people. Instead, the Federation wants people to believe that Bulgaria will dominate world volleyball if we change player A with player B and coach A with coach B.

    Ah, Ukraine... How you are going to regret this second serve! This will haunt them probably till the rest of their lives and will remind them what they missed. True, Atanasijevic made 2 aces, but it was 2 consecutive mistakes by the setter Didenko that got the job done for Serbia. And again super performance by Ukraine against another favourite. Quite often they looked more willing and dangerous than Serbia. To be honest, I had to wait for the fifth set in order to watch Serbia gain focus and play some quality volleyball, I didn't like their display at all before that. Uros attacking with two hands above his head may be smart and worked in tougher situations or after bad sets, yet he did it way too often. It didn't look like volleyball at all. Serbia will have more to show than Ukraine against France now, that's for sure, still it leaves a bitter taste how they reached the semis.

    By the way, if my info is correct, having spent the last season in Serbia with Vojvodina, Dmytro Viietskyi seems to be without a contract for the new season. This will probably change very soon, though.

    Neither European Ch nor VNL are serious competitions. No one should worry or get too happy about performance in them. I mean, in last euro we saw Germany and Belgium in semis...

    The only relevant and 100% serious competitions in modern international volleyball are WCh, OG and their qualifiers. Unlike 20 years ago, nothing else matters anymore.

    Let me explain to a delusional Argentinian why this is not true. I agree about the WCH and the Olympics, of course, but don't exclude Europe's continental championship's importance to its participants. The ECH is, of course, a very serious competition. I agree that the winner should get, I don't know, an Olympic ticket or a WCH automatic berth, for instance, but this doesn't lower its value by any means.

    Germany, Slovenia and Belgium played in semis not because the other teams didn't care, but because the level in Europe is good and you get a lot of trouble if you underestimate someone or just enjoy a bad day (e.g., Russia last night). The Olympics is a great venue, but it has few teams, including such who, as Nikola Grbic rightfully protested, won't make it to top 8 at a ECH otherwise. Reaching the Euro semis has often been more difficult for Russia/Poland/Italy than reaching the semis at the Olympics, for instance. Let me do a simple exercise that supports this argument. The back-to-back WCH Poland have only appeared in 2 ECH semifinals since 2011 (not winning the previous one, now is the second time). The 2016 Rio silver medallists Italy were pounded by the mentioned Belgium 2 years ago and might not make it to the semis this year either.

    Yes, I know you can't keep your level up throughout the entire Olympic period, you can't even keep it up for a whole summer. There are two other aspects to the ECH placements. First, it is usually scheduled in September/October, at the end of the NT season, when energy might be deficient. Especially with all kinds of tournaments and qualifiers like in 2019. Second, there are now various hosts in Europe and a lot of smaller teams get an extra push when playing at home. Which often causes surprises and makes the tournaments more interesting. Slovenia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, just to name a few, might overachieve at home.

    So, no, the ECH definitely matters. Especially these days when a lot of good European teams are not even allowed/invited to take part in WCH/Olympic qualifiers.

    Kudos to Slovenia for winning such a big game against Russia. Is it the first time in vb history that Slovenia beats Russia?

    While it's not impossible for Slovenia to win as an underdog, what's hard to believe is that they still grabbed the victory with their offense being highly concentrated at the left wing, due to a weakened, aging Gasparini. Their OHs, Urnaut and Cebulj, seem to have unlimited stamina to handle such a heavy duty of all elements of volleyball throughout the game.

    Let me join in congratulating and showing appreciation to this Slovenian team. I thought the same while watching Gasparini during the ECH so far. He seems more dangerous from the service line compared to his usual duties as opposite. Urnaut and Cebulj had to carry the team forward, but they were also helped immensely by the two MBs. Also, it had happened rarely that Cebulj plays so consistently and efficiently. Usually, he is the one from the duo OHs that gets subbed, their overall motivation playing at home, however, is insane. At one moment I got worried about Urnaut's heart, he spent more energy celebrating than scoring. And just when you think they might have endless stamina, it would usually run out. They can't go on forever like this. In the best case scenario, they won't play the final at home, providing that this whole madness continues against Poland, too.

    What I am mostly impressed with is Slovenia's serving consistency going throughout the last two matches. I thought it was a fluke against Bulgaria, you wouldn't normally keep it up for another match, yet it continued versus the Russians.

    I don't think Slovena is playing anything special, Russia is killing themselves thru their errors

    Whereas Russia did indeed make tons of mistakes in that match, you can't diminish Slovenia's contribution. Everything about their performance in the last two matches was special. The service runs which committed forced errors on their opponents' fields, the rallies, the fights, the defence, the transition, the team spirit, and last but not least, the special home support.

    The decline of Bulgarian volleyball has been discussed before and we saw it coming, still no one believed this team will disassemble so soon. No need to mention that only two months after Bulgaria had a match point against Brazil and held the Olympic quota in one hand, there is a massive public dissatisfaction, to put it mildly, against the lack of fighting spirit inside the squad, the results, the current head coach, and his decisions. I talked earlier about the psychological burden succeeding this defeat in Varna, here it goes now.

    This is their worst ECH (11th place) since 1987. They will also have to play qualifiers (for the 2021 edition) for the first time since 2008 (for the 2009 ECH). Playing qualifiers is not that bad, actually, for rebuilding the squad, they desperately need more matches. And against all kinds of opponents. Bulgaria no longer has a lot of quality players, they have suffered mostly defeats in bigger matches in recent years and they started losing to mid-class teams, too, so you can see the downtrend. A simple look back to the past 4-5 seasons shows us the list of more important wins they have scored - 1 against Poland (VNL), 2 against Brazil (VNL), 1 against France (VNL). Plus, 2 or 3 more against Canada (VNL) and Iran (2018 WCH, second attempt) from the near-the-top teams. And none in a major tournament. You see the full picture now. It confirms the decline, it shows Bulgarian volleyball needs urgent and big changes, and it shows why they don't even stand a chance in the January qualifier. The last time Bulgaria beat Italy, Russia, Serbia, USA, or France (forget this year's VNL training match) Matey Kaziyski was still a NT member.

    As much as I respect and like Silvano Prandi, I can't really defend him or his decisions this year. A lot of experiments, no results, strange selection of players, and almost no communication with the team during matches. Why even bother speaking English with them (his English is quite bad but he learned a few words nevertheless) when most play or have played in Italy? No real actions were taken when Bulgaria lost to North Macedonia and Belgium in friendlies before the ECH, and those were the last warning signs if for some reason we/he ignored the VNL massacres. Bulgaria started well some matches, never had a plan B because either the tactics, the motivation, or the bench weren't/wasn't there. Travelled to France and Slovenia with 2 tourists (Kadankov and the young Petrov) and a never really convincing and out-of-form second setter (Dimitrov), whereas some of his more experienced and needed fighters were watching the games at home. Yes, he insisted rightfully on Atanasov, A. Gorzdanov and K. Georgiev (VNL only), for they will play in the NT in the years to come, but that was it really. And 3 great sets against Brazil. Well, Prandi failed big time and he is to blame for at least 50% of the 2019 disaster. Even the Bratoev twins (Prandi introduced Valentin more seriously to the NT during his first tenure with the NT) turned against him and criticized him openly on social media.

    That the federation members all have to go is clear, as they are the main culprits for the decline that is yet to come. But we know this won't happen.

    Salparov might've played his last match with NT against Slovenia. He'll eventually reconsider only for the January qualifier if in form and needed, but that will be it. Victor Yosifov is considering NT retirement, too. Sokolov will surely skip the 2020 VNL, the only tournament for Bulgaria next summer. Where they will again fight hard against relegation, regardless of whether Prandi stays or not.

    Germany have used the day off well. Simple, yet effective tactics against the Dutch, not too much risk from the service line, knowing Piazza's men make mistakes, their best performance so far in the tournament came when it mattered the most. Abdel-Aziz still scored a lot, there is no way around that, but the German block touched a lot of balls. This is still not the same Germany compared to 2017, mainly because they don't have the same Grozer, but they might have more to show against Poland than the Netherlands. Giani tried 3 OHs next to Fromm, someone has to step up more and support the rest of the attackers against Poland. Perhaps Schott will start again, I am confident the rotations will continue, though.

    Piazza didn't have much to choose from for a needed change when his players (Keemink, more specifically) killed themselves and all their efforts at the end of set 2. He repaced Jorna with van Garderen, offering more power and risk to change the game's rhythm. It worked but only in set 3. Playing against an opponent with very similar characteristics to their own, as ter Maar pointed out in the short interview before the match, you have to either outblock, outattack, outserve, or outsmart them. Instead, the Dutch seem to have made more mistakes, had more aces coming from the lucky top of the net than from traditional ways, and overall didn't show improvement from the great WCH last year. Which is pity indeed.

    Thanks for the detailed response. I agree that Atanasov has the complete package. He seems to be the best well-rounded OH since Konstantinov‘s retirement one decade ago. It’s so rare to find a player from Bulgaria NT who is so strong at both attack and reception. He’s definitely crucial to the future of the NT.

    With the increase in speed in volleyball and specialization in positions, all-around players have almost become extinct. It's rare to find such players in general, a combination of both qualities makes you a sought-after asset everywhere. However, I would slightly divert from your judgement here. Skrimov and Kaziyski are, to me, great all-around OHs. Kaziyski became a legend/emperor for his leadership, serve, and attack skills, but his reception is somehow overlooked.

    Yes. there is a limit of 16. even though those teams do not participate all the time. you always have some of them in the tournament. I think we had 20 teams at the Asian Games. it could be more here without that limit.

    PAK and TPE aren't "that" bad. they can surprise top Asian teams in a good day, they never win (at least not yet) though but they can take 1-2 sets. if all teams send their A squad. we usually end up with top 5 (IRN, JPN AUS KOR CHN) in top 5 places.

    I don't follow Asian volleyball that much for the pure reason that it is not widely broadcast and/or some of the teams not always play with A squads. The one time I watched Pakistan more closely, though, was when they arrived in Sofia for the last Olympic qualifier in 2012. And believe me, regardless of their results, they showed they can play some volleyball. There were situations in the match against Bulgaria when they did whatever they wanted on the court, especially attacks in the middle. They fought with Egypt till the very end of the three sets and then, despite France being mentally down and still overcoming the disappointing defeat against Stocyhev's Bulgaria back then (different times, right?), Pakistan stole a set against the French. They don't have so much quality as to win, and as mosi emphasized, they will hardly make it all the way even in Asia, but they can be dangerous.

    My experience with Chinese Taipei comes pretty much down to Taichung Bank. They can also play some volleyball :)

    There is another aspect that you will probably have difficulties finding videos and scouting such teams and it must've played a role, but both aren't that bad indeed.

    The Czech Republic have to thank Jan Hadrava for sending them into the next round. Montenegro were otherwise close to upseting yet another team. With their two wins, just like North Macedonia, Montenegro completed a memorable first ECH campaign. I didn't like the Czech MBs at all. From a potent presence in the midlde once with the likes of Lebl, Rak, Stanek, Vesely, even Jiri Kral, to Sobotka and Zajicek now, this is where the Czechs suffer the most. And still, today they underperformed, despite the much better display last night against the Dutch (fatigue had surely played a role here), and the only reliable option to convert points for them did a fantastic job.

    In Antwerp, Germany's B with Karlitzek, Schott, Zimmermann, Bohme, Hirsch, is surprisingly good enough to win only a set against Spain... Spain took advantage of the situation and advances to the next round at the expense of a slightly better, to me, Slovakian team.

    Thailand has a high jumping, hard hitting lefty OP. I wonder why they didn't use him much in the match against Japan? Thailand is way lower level and ranked compared to Japan, but I wanted to see the THA and JAP leftys go head to head for fun and how he would hold against them. Though it's already too late now for any kind of rematch as they didn't even qualify for the top 8.

    This caught my attention. Here is a highlights video from Thailand's match against Hong Kong, the mentioned opposite appears in sets 2, 3, and 4, wearing jersey number 2 (Amorntep).

    He is too short, though. He seems to have a nice technique but I don't know if he's that hard-hitting indeed :)

    Today's match was irrelevant for them, they were going to finish last anyway. They choked big-time in pretty much every set vs Montenegro and Czech, so I suppose they were mentally down. The loss to Montenegro was probably a big blow for them, they wasted advantage in all 3 sets against a team which is less experienced and objectively weaker than them.

    I would add something else, also to answer saishuu 's question.

    First of all, I doubt it was a protest against the coach. Cretu has been with the team for ages and is one of Estonian volleyball's architects. I would rule off this possibility immediately.

    From a technical perspective, the team lacked a serious, reliable opposite. Teppan wasn't really in form, Pulk played little and wasn't impressive either. The setters relied more on Taht (Kollo had a different role but was still helpful at times) but he can't carry the team alone. In one of the matches, don't remember which one exactly, Cretu played with Juhkami as opposite in an attempt to turn things around. I guess Venno was injured (I don't think he retired, don't know) and Estonia don't have so many quality players after all. But yes, the team underperformed in general.

    Also, apart from the mental meltdown after the Montenegro match, Estonia didn't enjoy an easy group. I mentioned several times that the level in Europe is rising, ask Estonia if you don't believe me. Montenegro might seem weaker than Estonia, yet they are not quite outsiders. Ukraine don't need special presentation (although Estonia weren't motivated today), the Czech Republic are not always consistent but they can surely play volleyball and have some very decent players. However, don't get surprised if the Czechs get eliminated tomorrow, Montenegro might still surprise them/you.

    Take all these into account and you have it. On a positive note, also because Estonia are a very nice team with great fans, they will co-host the next Euro in 2 years, so they have enough time to regroup and enjoy a better tournament in 2021 at home.

    Ha, this is a dramatic end in Pool A. For the bottom-placed teams, I mean. Romania just beat Portugal 3-1, thus equalizing the won-lost, points, and sets ratio between Romania, Greece, and Portugal! It all comes down to match points ratio where, attention, Greece have conceded a point less than Portugal (they have the same amount of won match points) and will make it to the Last 16 as the 4th-placed team in Pool A. You can't have less drama between those 3 even if you designed it yourself :D Poor Portugal, they just needed 2 sets today or at least 1 or 2 more points to secure an elimination phase spot.

    Can you comment on Martin Atanasov’s performance during this ECH? I’m very impressed by his performance during the OGQ.

    Everyone was impressed with his contribution against Brazil, he enjoyed an almost flawless evening back then. Atanasov had already indicated his NT potential when he made that superb champion season with Dobrudzha 3 years ago. Konstantinov was the first to invite him to the NT, yet his work approach didn't quite allow Atanasov to shine under his guidance. I still remember a very timid Atanasov coming in from the bench in that last World League 2017 weekend in Argentina against Brazil. After he unluckily got injured at the beginning of his tenure at Heynen's Friedrichshafen (I am sure he would've learned a lot from Heynen but it wasn't meant to be), Prandi took him to Chaumont and they have been working successfully together ever since.

    With Prandi returning at the helm of the NT, it was expected that Atanasov will certainly be among the 4 OHs in the main team, if not more. Prandi knew he was ready to be a starter, so did most of us who followed his progress in France. Atanasov will play a major role in this new Bulgarian team in the years to come. After his unofficial inauguration at the Olympics qualifier in Varna (plus, of course, the VNL), this ECH is his first big tournament with the NT. He shows huge improvement, he can be very valuable in all aspects of the game, has a tough and reliable jump serve, good reception, and a high attack reach. He actually has the whole volleyball package, what he lacks is consistency, typical to most youngsters. This is exactly the problem that haunts him at the ongoing Euro. He can be threatening in one set and then silent and unfocused in another. Yet, I would argue that these are problems of the entire NT right now, not just Atanasov's. For I am confident the latter will develop even more, no matter if in the French league or somewhere else.

    As for the Bulgarian NT, Prandi is a master but even he can't miraculously change the destiny of this group of players. Let alone the fact that they don't have enough quality and depth in the roster in general. They can still play good volleyball, showed it against Brazil and yesterday vs. Italy, but this is a team that has won just few bigger matches in recent years, has confidence issues, and, what is worse, doesn't seem to have a Plan B when Plan A doesn't work (anymore). The last fragment of that sentence could have been witnessed against Italy last night. Similarly, versus Brazil in Varna, too. A win in August and an Olympic ticket would've given them a confidence boost and more motivation to work but, as we know, it didn't happen. Now, I fear Slovenia will beat them in Ljubljana and they won't reach the otherwise expected quarterfinal berth.

    Sorry for the long rant, I got carried away.

    I am 90% sure that that match would still be played in Slovenia, like it was in the women's tournament.

    There is even a small chance that the draw dictates that Slovenia plays France in the 1/8 finals, and apparently two hosts can't meet before the QF (or even SF?), which would lead to some teams switching places in the draw.

    It's a proper mess, I know :D

    Turkey managed to beat Belarus for 3 points but the set they dropped almost surely means that Slovenia will finish second and none of this will be necessary. And I can't say Bulgaria will be favourites against Slovenia in front of a packed crowd in Ljubljana...

    Today was a good day even for the ones who don't like the format or the championship in general. Apart from Montenegro vs. Poland, the rest of the matches were mostly and for most parts balanced and interesting. Even Slovakia showed teeth against Belgium.