Bologna Invite 2019: Tournament Recap (Men’s)

The best European men's national teams faced off in Bologna!

Italy U24 get a layout grab against Germany in the Final. Photo by Ingeborg Kuijlaars.

The Men’s division at the Bologna Invite showed an early preview of what is to come at the European Ultimate Championships and the World Under 24 Championships coming in July this year. At the end of the weekend all teams went back home knowing that this tournament is finished, but the road to the European Cup is still long. Teams will use the last months leading up to the championships to tune themselves up both physically and tactically to give all they can in July. When the dust settled, Germany won the tournament on an undefeated weekend by beating the red hot Italy U24 team in the final. Here are some of the main take aways from the weekend.

Italy U24 and GB face off in the “pre-tournament”

Though the tournament started on Saturday, Great Britain showed up early to scrimmage Italy U24 on Friday. GB was at the tournament with two split squads and were using this tournament as a final tryout weekend for the team. GB 1 was mainly made up of core Clapham players and GB 2 mixed some leadership players with some players on the cusp of making the team or not. Italy U24 split into offense and  defense lines on Friday and played four short scrimmages against the GB sides. Italy U24 won three games out of four against GB. The only game that GB managed to win on Friday was GB 2 versus the Italy U24 offense line on double game point. Both the offense and defense lines managed to defeat the Clapham heavy GB 1 on double game point in the short scrimmages.

Italy U24 continue their success through the weekend

Those early results gave us the impression that the final played in Perth last year1 was not a fluke and the good work at the youth level is paying back. Italy U24 made their way to the final of Bologna Invite as they continued off of the success they had in the scrimmages against GB. They had to face GB 1 again in the tournament and started down 5-2 before coming back and winning on double game point. Italy U24 did not manage to defeat Germany in the final, but they were able to get two breaks on them in the game. Germany’s offense line only conceded two breaks in all the six games leading up to the final combined.

Italy U24 seems to be already fit and prepared for the July WU24 championship. Defensive standout Luca Tognetti said “The team is very focused and is working hard we were happy to play again after one year from Perth’s WUC and be able to show the hard work we put in during winter”. He also said that the final game loss against Germany doesn’t worry them “ Germany is really experienced and synced. Just being able to break them a couple of time give us the energy to keep pushing…”

This team will be a challenging opponent for everyone at the WU24s. They have top level talent like David Barzasi and Tobias Mine, two of the most creative and versatile players on the team who stood out this weekend among some of the other big names on the team. They are also extremely deep with every single player on the team showcasing scary athleticism and impressive break mark throws.

Germany and Great Britain are still favorites for EUC

GB 1 had a full roster with Justin Foord, Tom Abrams and Joshua Briggs, the Clapham core. However, because of GB 1’s loss to Italy U24 they did not make it to the final against Germany. However, aside from that loss to the young Italians, GB 1 showed no mercy in the rest of their matches and handled their opposition quite easily. GB 2 almost defeated Germany as they were ahead 8-7 in the final moments of the game. There was some confusion about the cap where some players thought that this was already the end, but in the end they decided that it was still a game to 9 and Germany scored two in a row to keep their undefeated streak alive. GB will not be scared by their loss. After all, it is just the beginning of the season and GB tend to perform best when it counts. In Gyor they won’t leave anything out of control and their team will be combined and in full force.

Germany ended the tournament as the weekend champions. Their offense line is mainly made up of Bad Skid star players and they were impressive, to say the least. They were broken just four times in the tournament and two of those were in the final match against Italy U24. Holger Beuttenmüller and Nico Müller held up to the expectations, touching a lot of discs with few mistakes. Their defense can still improve as they struggled to get breaks all weekend. In fact, they often needed to cross over offense players like Nico Muller and Steffen Döscher to get key breaks in close games like their double game point win against Denmark.

The final between Germany and Italy U24 was extended to 80 minutes,2 and it was a very intense game. The Italian defense didn’t hold back and forced the Germans to play with a solid offense throughout the game. The synergy between the Bad Skid stars showed up in the late game and was too much for the young Italians to handle as Germany won 13-11.

Ireland and Denmark impress

Though most games finished as predicted, there were a lot of very hard fought games throughout the weekend. Ireland showed a very sharp offense and they gave some hard times to their opponents in Bologna. As usual they had a win against GB 2 on Saturday, winning by three.3 However, consistency was an issue with Ireland as they also had losses against teams weaker than GB which exposed some of their defensive weakness. On Sunday morning Ireland lost to Italy, starting down 5-1 then going up at the second half. They had the disc on double game point but were unable to punch in the score and gave Italy the win. Ireland is dynamic and wants to work, but they had low numbers on the weekend. In general Ireland is a country with a few good stars but not a lot of depth and it is yet to be seen how well this team can do as they come together for the EUC.

Denmark was the bright surprise of the weekend. They came to Bologna to create new synergies among the players and understand what they are capable of. They showed that the new collarbone of the team made by KFK players has great potential. They had some ups and downs, losing with opponents at they’re level but winning with others that many predicted to be better than them. The game of the weekend for them was the double game point loss to Germany. Denmark’s offense was particularly impressive this game as they only gave up a single break all game. Defensive leader Laurits Hjermitslev said, “We’re are very satisfied with our results. We showed that we can keep up with better teams for at least 50 minutes. It was the second time, after tryouts that we were playing together. We’re motivated to do better and we know the other teams are going to train hard and this push us to train even harder now that we know we’re that close. Bologna Invite was a good way to start the season and get a good look at ourselves.”

Denmark offense was aggressive and used the physicality of their cutters to take advantage of shorter teams. They had a hard time stopping the taller Czech Republic, that stole the win at the double game point. Denmark will be fun to watch at Gyor with fit and tall cutters and expert handling up field.

Other National teams were there to test their own capacity. France came in with a long roster to try players and tactics, looking for improvement without seeking the good results at the end. France is maybe the team with the oldest average age and with international experience. This was the first time they were able to test how they would do without the Tchac stars who have moved to Montreal this season to play in the AUDL. France finished 6th on the weekend with a loss to Italy in their final game.

Austria underperforms

Many may have expected better from Austria after their 5th place finish at the last EUC, but they had surprisingly poor results including losses to teams like Germany U24 and a 10th place finish. “Our offense struggled all weekend and we couldn’t get the hang of it,” said Wolfgang Mitterer, player from Insbruck INNsiders. Austria has great handling and precise offense, and the subpar results from the weekend in Bologna don’t scare the team since they were there to see understand how and what to do to be ready for Gyor. However, with just two wins at the end of Bologna Invite, Austria wasn’t satisfied but time is on their side and they will improve during this months. If they want success in Gyor their offense needs to get back on track with player such as Mitterer and Michael Gaisl.

Outlook for EUC

So far it looks like the Gyor final could be the same as Copenhagen with GB and Germany ahead of the pack right now. However, the day when these two teams will be challenged for real by other national teams is not far. Teams like Italy, Ireland and Denmark are closer than ever this year and we can’t wait to see how they will shape up over the season.

  1. Where Italy U24 lost to USA 15-13 

  2. The rest of the games were 50 minutes 

  3. Ireland have a history of beating GB at big tournaments like WCBU 2017 and Windmill 2016 

  1. Giovanni Santucci
    Giovanni Santucci

    Giovanni Santucci has played ultimate for about 10 years and is still going. He plays for CUS Bologna. He is studying sports business and hopes to help the ultimate community as the sport grows. The highlight of his career so far is winning the European national championship with team Italy U20 in Venenedaal, The Netherlands.

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