Russia, the last World League champion faces possible elimination after two surprising consecutive defeats against its lower ranked opponents in Pool C.
Outscored 3 - 0 by Bulgaria and 3 - 1 by France, Russia has to beat Tunisia to have any chance to progress in the tournament.
Lack of concentration and poor physical endurance appear to be the reasons for the bad performance of the three time Olympic gold medal winners. The team's Russian star player and captain Ruslan Olikhver, is out of competition due to an injury.
On Sunday, Bulgaria swept the Russians three to one (partials of 28-26, 25-19 and 25-23). The beginning of the match was equal, but Bulgaria took the lead thanks to the attacks of Vladimir Nikolov and Plamen Konstantinov. Bulgaria started the second set winning five consecutive points and Russian coach, Guennadi Chipouline asked for a time out. However, Bulgaria's blocks became more effective and they held the advantage over Russia. In the last set, Roman Iakovlev, for Russia played at his best level, but it was not enough to beat the excellent reception of the Bulgarians.
On Monday, Russia faced the same problems in the first game. The team from Buenos Aires could see another surprise: France's victory 3-1. With the excellent performance of its spikers, Frantz Granvorka and Dominique Daquin, France secured first position in the group. However, the second largest source of points for France was the unforced errors of its opponent: 25 in total.
"I have nothing to say. I am ashamed." Russian captain Olikhver said during the press conference after the game. The Russian coach Guennadi Chipouline added, "I could not recognize my squad. My players are experienced ones and they know how to play to avoid dismissal." Visibly disappointed, the Russian players left the stadium concerned about the future and thinking of Tunisia.
Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina