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    The German men meet the title favorites

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    Fast, athletic, multifaceted: Sitting volleyball usually offers a real spectacle for the audience. In the group stage, the German team will face the record winner and defending champion Iran in the opening game on Saturday. No disadvantage, as coach Michael Merten explains: “That’s good for us. Then we can analyze our other two opponents, China and Brazil, against each other in the game. ”Nevertheless, he knows about the challenge:“ Iran is currently the best team in the world. ”With the 2.44 meter tall Morteza Mehrzad, the Iranians have also an absolutely exceptional player in their ranks.

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    “In the block it is rather hopeless to get a point because it simply hits over every block,” explains national player Florian Singer. Nevertheless, the German team doesn’t have to hide: players like Stefan Hähnlein, Torben Schiewe, Alexander Schiffler, Jürgen Schrapp and Heiko Wiesenthal have already been to the Paralympics several times, Dominik Albrecht, Martin Vogel, Lukas Schiwy and Mathis Tigler have already been to the Paralympics once. In addition to the experience of the older ones, younger players such as Tom Wannemacher, Francis Tonleu and Florian Singer bring a new dynamic to the team. “The breadth of the bank is one of our strengths,” says Merten. Another hobbyhorse is game analysis: Using modern video technology, the trainer team closely follows the distribution of the ball and attacks in the game, for example. The players are not left out: “It’s also about giving them responsibility and involving them in tactical decisions.”

    “We play point by point”

    For Merten, there is no question that the Iranian team will progress. Like many other nations, the sitting volleyball players there play in professional leagues, only the German and Japanese teams do not practice the sport full-time. Nevertheless, the Merten team expects good chances, especially against China and Brazil. “We definitely want to be among the top two in the group,” explains the national coach. China is very defensive and technically good, but definitely beatable. Brazil comes mainly from the mentality that the new classification hit the Brazilians relatively hard. “Some of the great players who were there in Rio are no longer there.”

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    How strong the teams really are will only really become apparent on site: Due to the pandemic, there were hardly any competitions in which the opponents’ style of play could have been analyzed. But the German team mainly relies on its own strengths. “We have a really good team,” says national player Singer. Captain Hähnlein emphasizes: “It’s about not getting hectic or nervous. We play point by point. “

    “Place as high up as possible”

    There is no question that the German team has to push its limits to advance. “All teams will give everything,” says Merten and Hähnlein also emphasizes: “These are the Paralympics, you have to play good volleyball all the time. Nothing works on its own. ”In the end, according to Merten, the German team wants to“ place itself as high up as possible ”. He does not want to give an exact placement: “You can never say that in advance. Perhaps we are very satisfied with fifth place in the end, or we are annoyed about bronze. ”For the German team, one thing is clear: the focus is now completely on the game against Iran (August 28, 3:00 am German time) . “We’re hot and we’re just looking forward to the games,” says Singer. With the reigning Paralympic winner you would have a tough opponent, “but you can also expect a miracle”.

    This text is part of this year’s Paralympics newspaper. You can find all the texts in our digital series here.

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