Lausanne, Switzerland, August 31, 2017 - Fans at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup can look forward to seeing a host of champions. The stars of the Olympic-winning Brazilian team will be the centre of attention in Nagoya and Osaka from September 12 to 17 – after all, the South American team have claimed four of the six titles in a competition which only takes place every four years.Quick links - Volleyball:
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Brazil showed that they are in outstanding form with four victories in a recent series of friendly matches against the United States. Stars like Ricardo Lucarelli, Mauricio Borges and Lucas Saatkamp are looking to shine again in Japan under the guidance of their new coach Renan Dal Zotto.
The USA are likely to be led by the man in the number 1 shirt - Matt Anderson. The opposite hitter played in the outside spiker position in the latest friendly against Brazil, and was the top scorer with 31 points.
“I think we’ll be fine at the Grand Champions Cup,” said captain David Smith. “I think these matches will be good motivation. They will be a good learning tool. We’ll look at the video and study what we need to do.” The US team also includes Maxwell Holt, who was named the top centre blocker in the 2013 World Grand Champions Cup.
The stars of the two European teams, France and Italy, will travel to the tournament on the back of the European Volleyball Championship. The Azzurri take their place as one of the six teams at the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup courtesy of a wild card. Filippo Lanza and Luca Vettori are among the men to look out for. The fans are likely to be a little more intrigued by how the French will perform. “Les Bleus” are making their first appearance in the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup and won the FIVB Volleyball World League in spectacular fashion earlier this year.
Captain Benjamin Toniutti and Kevin Le Roux joined Earvin Ngapeth in the World League Finals Dream Team. The list of stars continues with Kevin Tillie, Julien Lyneel and Stephen Boyer. “We are all really looking forward to our debut in the FIVB World Grand Champion Cup,” said coach Laurent Tillie. After all, the competition will feature a rematch of the FIVB World League final against Brazil.
Hosts Japan are obviously hungry to cause an upset. The home team arrives at its most important event of the season on the back of a ninth victory at the Asian Men's Volleyball Championship. The star of the team on that occasion was Yuki Ishikawa, who took his place in the championship’s dream team as top outside spiker and was also named MVP. Haku Ri was one of the top two middle blockers, while Naonobu Fujii was recognised as the best setter and is at the heart of the Japanese game. In 2013, the hosts of the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup had to settle for sixth place – something they are hungry to change this time around.
Iran, with new coach Igor Kolakovic, are the outsiders. The Iranians have just qualified for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship. At the heart of the team are players like Amir Ghafour, who are stars of the volleyball world and looking to shine at the World Grand Champions Cup. The best of the best are assembled in Japan, to crown the champion of champions.