After the first phase of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship was completed on Wednesday, the knockout stage of the 2022 tournament will begin on Saturday, September 3, with the first two of eight Round of 16 duels. Another three days of action featuring two games a day will fill up the remaining quarterfinal berths.

Co-hosts Slovenia and Germany will be the first team in action on Saturday at 17:30 local time (15:30 GMT) in Ljubljana. Both teams advanced from Pool D. The home side finished pool runners-up on a 2-1 win-loss record and 7 points, while the Germans progressed as the third best of the third-placed teams across all pools, on 1-2 and 3. The two sides played for second place in the pool on Wednesday, and the Slovenians produced a convincing straight-set victory. In their previous encounter, at Volleyball Nations League 2021, the Germans claimed a 3-1 win.


Slovenia’s Tine Urnaut and Jan Kozamernik raise a two-man block against Germany’s Moritz Reichert

At 21:15 local time (19:15 GMT), also in Ljubljana, Pool C winners and reigning European champions Italy, who have yet to lose a set at the World Championship, will take on Cuba from Pool B. The two sides have not crossed ways for almost a decade, since the 2013 FIVB Volleyball World League, when the southern Europeans mastered two shutouts of the Caribbean squad.

On all remaining competition days, the starting times of the two Round of 16 matches are set at 17:30 and 21:00 local time (15:30 and 19:00 GMT).

After Katowice hosted two of six pools, another Polish venue, Gliwice will now welcome four of the Round of 16 matches and two of the quarterfinals. USA and Türkiye will be the first to take to the court at the magnificent Arena Gliwice on Sunday. The Americans (2-1 and 6) qualified for the Round of 16 as Pool C runners-up, while the Turks made it successfully past the first pool phase of a World Championship for the first time in history by finishing second in Pool E, on the same record of 2-1 and 6. Earlier this season, the United States took silver at the Volleyball Nations League, while Türkiye took silver at the Volleyball Challenger Cup. The only previous time the two teams met at a World Championship was 56 years ago, in September 1966, when USA celebrated in straight sets.


Poland’s Kamil Semeniuk ready for the block as Joshua Tuaniga sets USA’s attack

Co-hosts and defending world champions Poland are the heavy favourites in Sunday’s second match. The unbeaten Pool C winners will play against Tunisia from Pool A, who qualified as the fourth best third-placed team on 1-2 and 3. The Poles shut out the Tunisians in their previous four encounters, at the FIVB Volleyball World Cups in 2019 and 2015, the World Championship in 2006 and in a Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifier in 2019. The last time the African team took a set off their opponents was at the Athens 2004 Olympics.

The two best servers of the pool stage, Ukraine’s Oleh Plotnytskyi and the Netherlands’ Nimir Abdel-Aziz, will have an opportunity to engage in a face-to-face ace race as their teams battle it out for a spot in the quarterfinals on Monday in Ljubljana. The Dutch topped the final standings in Pool F on 3-0 and 8, while the Ukrainians finished second in Pool A on 2-1 and 6. The Netherlands shut out Ukraine the last time they met, at EuroVolley 2019. That same year they also exchanged five-set defeats in the CEV Golden European League.

Later on Monday, reigning Olympic and VNL champions France will meet Japan's aspiring squad. The European team topped Pool D on 3-0 and 8, while the Asians finished runners-up in Pool B on 2-1 and 6. The last time Japan beat France was in a Rio 2016 Olympic qualifier at home. The French won the next six encounters, most recently in this year’s VNL in straight sets.


Japan’s Ran Takahashi in action

The early game on Tuesday in Gliwice will set Serbia against Olympic bronze medallists Argentina. The Serbs were one of only two teams not to drop a single set at the tournament so far, and emphatically won Pool A. The Argentineans pushed all three of their Pool F matches to five sets, but won only the third-place decider against Egypt, enough to advance as the best third-placed team from the pools. The two sides will meet for the 33rd time at a major world-level competition. The southern Europeans have won 22 of their previous 32 encounters, including their VNL 2022 five-set rollercoaster. Their last meeting, however, took place just two weeks ago at the Hubert Wagner Memorial tournament in Poland, when the South Americans claimed a four-set victory.

The last quarterfinalist will emerge from a duel between Brazil and Iran. The South Americans lost the first two sets of their Pool B campaign to Cuba, but then won the next nine to top the standings on 3-0 and 8. Iran qualified for the Round of 16 as Pool F runners-up on 2-1 and 5. Brazil have won 15 of their previous 18 games against Iran at major world-level tournaments. Most recently, they swept their opponents in straight sets in this year’s VNL. Iran’s three victories over Brazil all occurred in 2014 FIVB Volleyball World League matches.


Brazil’s Yoandy Leal on the serve

· Watch all FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.