This Saturday the eighteenth edition of the Men’s Volleyball World Championship will kick off in Poland, an event that has a fundamental question right from the start: will Brazil be able to win the fourth consecutive title or will Russia, European champions, be able to block it? Yes, because the team coached by Bernardinho comes from a truly golden period in its history, given that the current first place in the FIVB world ranking has added, from 2002 to today, three first places (the first in its history) to World Cups in Argentina (2002), Japan (2006) and Italy (2010), as well as one gold and two silver medals at the Olympics, seven World Leagues, two World Cups and a number of other titles and placings; at the same time, however, Andrei Voronkov’s Russia has also grown, that with 342 points in the ranking undermines the 345 of Brazil from very close and seems ready, after the recent international performances, to be able to challenge the South American champions on equal terms and snatch the title from them. And then there are the outsiders: from Italy to the United States, from Poland itself, the host nation to Bulgaria, from Argentina to Cuba, and a whole series of other national teams that aim to turn out to be the surprise of the tournament. Who will win? Since untangling the problem is quite difficult, we asked our readers for an opinion with one of the usual weekly polls: here’s how they answered, starting from fifth place and moving up to the first in the standings. And then there are the outsiders: from Italy to the United States, from Poland itself, the host nation to Bulgaria, from Argentina to Cuba, and a whole series of other national teams that aim to turn out to be the surprise of the tournament. Who will win? Since untangling the problem is quite difficult, we asked our readers for an opinion with one of the usual weekly polls: here’s how they answered, starting from fifth place and moving up to the first in the standings. And then there are the outsiders: from Italy to the United States, from Poland itself, the host nation to Bulgaria, from Argentina to Cuba, and a whole series of other national teams that aim to turn out to be the surprise of the tournament. Who will win? Since untangling the problem is quite difficult, we asked our readers for an opinion with one of the usual weekly polls: here’s how they answered, starting from fifth place and moving up to the first in the standings.
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The Arrival of Antiga on the Bench and the Exclusion of Kurek
The host national team of Poland arrives at this event as strong as it hasn’t happened to me for a long time. After the golden period of the seventies, during which the Polish team had long been the only one able to compete for the various international titles with the Soviet Union, Polish volleyball went through a period of obfuscation in the eighties and Ninety, only to return in vogue in the last decade, with the conquest of the European Championships in 2009 and the World League in 2012. Last year Stéphane Antiga sits on the bench, a spiker just retired from competitive activity, with a brief appearance also in Italy ten years ago in the ranks of Cuneo and a long militancy in the Polish championship, which he has won five times: the task to which he is called is worthily replace Andrea Anastasi- head coach from 2011 to 2013 – precisely in the year of greatest expectations for the red and white, who have been able to show a great volley in recent times but have often collected less, in terms of trophies, than they deserved. The squad list was released in recent days and saw the quite sensational cut of Bartosz Kurek, one of the most important players of recent years and recently arrived in Italy, in Macerata; Antiga, therefore, seems to want to bet everything on Piotr Nowakowski and Krzysztof Ignaczak, both members of Asseco Resovia Rzeszów. The group does not seem particularly difficult – in fact, it is perhaps the easiest of the starting four – given that the hosts will deal with some decent teams (Argentina and Serbia) and others more modest (Australia, Cameroon, and Venezuela); if he were to pass the group, which we could already take for granted, in the second phase the red and white team would face the qualifiers of group D, that of Italy and the United States. Apart from the opening match against Serbia, held in Warsaw, Poland will play in the first phase in Wroclaw and in the second in Lodz.
The Young and Talented Team
On an equal footing with Poland and, as we will see, with Italy, our readers have placed the United States, whose national team will deal with the Azzurri, as well as with Belgium, France, Iran, and Porto. Rico is in group D based in Krakow. Trained until 2012 by Alan Knipe, who led the foundation of the team after the golden year of 2008 that led to the conquest of the World League and Olympic gold in Beijing, the US team now sees John Speraw on its bench, a forty-year-old coach also at UCLA (as you know, in fact, in the United States there is no professional volleyball championship and the staff of the National team is taken directly from the universities, often keeping the double position). Under his leadership, Team USA has been able to carve out a good period of form, culminating in the conquest, last month, in the World League against Brazil thanks to a great series of performances by Taylor Sander, the young spiker who has just passed professional and promptly hired by Andrea Giani’s Blu Volley Verona, who also thanks to his hopes to be able to improve the next year the quarter-finals reached in the 2013/14 playoffs. Precisely in this World League, the Americans have once also faced Italy that they will now find in the Polish group, among other things being defeated by 3-0, which however allowed them in the semifinals to face not Brazil but the most affordable Iran, the surprise of the group with Russia and precisely Brazil, and leave us the arduous task of clashing with the South American champions. Thanks to the experience of Captain Sean Rooney,
Will Berruto’s Team Be Ready for the Leap in Quality?
Basically, the world hegemony of Brazil arose when the Italian one ended, given that in the nineties our team had managed to conquer three consecutive World Championships and a very high number of European Championships and World League. It is since 2005, however, that the Azzurri – while always maintaining an excellent position in the world ranking (currently they are third) – have not managed to bring home a trophy, with mockery such as fourth place at the home World Cup four years ago (when they arrived in the semifinals unbeaten, a real record in such long tournaments, but they lost the two decisive matches), the two consecutive second places at the European Championships and two-third consecutive places at the World League. Mauro Berruto’s team, after the re-foundation of the past years, however, he gave the impression in the latest tests that he is growing and therefore arrives at the World Cup certainly not with the underdogs of Brazil and Russia, but with some cards to play, as the messages of those who voted in our poll also underlined (more than someone, for example, gave their vote to Russia or Brazil, but commented on this vote with a “but I hope Italy will surprise us”). Even the latest tests, like the one against Serbia just yesterday, gave a positive and convincing result, and a lot is expected of Jiri Kovar – just back after some problems suffered in Florence during the World League on his left knee already operated -, by Salvatore Rossini, who did well in the World League, and by an Ivan Zaytsev in good shape; in our group, in addition to the United States, we will have to guard against Iran,
In Search of the Fourth Consecutive Title
We arrive at the top positions of the ranking, where, as expected, your vote led to a head-to-head between the holder Brazil and Russia, the most accredited challenger. In the end, the Europeans got it right, but it was a very close match, a sign that not even you are really convinced about who will triumph. Of course, as we said at the opening, Brazil has all the numbers on their side: they have won three consecutive World Cups, as well as having reached the final five times in the last six editions of the World League, and having also played in the final in the last three Olympics; the Verde Oro, however, has recently seemed a little less brilliant than usual and this has increased the prices of possible challengers. Bernardino’s team will play in group B, in Katowice, against initially rather affordable opponents, considering that – Cuba and Germany aside, which in any case shouldn’t worry the holders of the world title too much – all the other teams are easily manageable; The speech that will open in the second phase will be different, when, between Katowice and Wroclaw, the Brazilian team will have to face the first four of group C, among which there will certainly be Russia and Bulgaria. The tournament regulation in fact provides that in the second phase the strongest of the “twin” group will face each other, then composing a ranking that takes into account these last four races but also those already played in the first phase with the opponents of their group; finally, there will be a third step, with two groups of three teams, which will be used to determine the four semifinalists.
A Team Ready Not to Miss the Appointment That Counts
A little, but for you the favorite, as we have already mentioned, is Russia. Trained by Andrej Voronkov – who has made use of the expertise of our Sergio Busato as an assistant since 2011, a life as an assistant and scout of various Italian and Russian teams and now also head coach of the Fakel of Novy Urengoj, where he replaced Fefè De Giorgi -, the team won the gold medal in London (beating Brazil in a very tight final) and the first place at last year’s European Championships (beating us in the final match, but expressing an excellent volley throughout the tournament, so much it is true that he has never conceded more than one set per game to his opponents), as well as two World Leagues in the last four years, proving to be a team now ready to impose itself on all the great world stages, without awe for anyone. As already explained in part, he will make his debut on 1 September against Canada at the Ergo Arena, a sports hall located on the border between the cities of Gdansk and Sopot, to then face, in order, Egypt, Mexico, China, and, in ‘last match of the first phase, the fiercest rival of the group, that Bulgaria which came within a whisker of the medal both at the London Olympics and at the European Championships and the World League last year, all events then won by Russia. The captain is the setter Sergej Makarov, who boasts a good international experience both at the club and national level, but the real stars are the hitter/opposite Nikolaj Pavlov and the central Dmitry Musersky, both of Ukrainian origins but naturalized Russians a few years ago. ,