Less than 24 hours after the end of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship 2022 Round of 16, the quarterfinal stage of the tournament gets underway with two electrifying clashes on Wednesday in Ljubljana and another two on Thursday in Gliwice. The world’s best four teams will emerge ahead of the semifinals and the medal matches this weekend.
World Championship quarterfinals to begin on Wednesday
The world will know its best four teams by the end of Thursday
Published 08:59, 07 Sep 2022
Italy v France
Four European teams will be in action at Arena Stozice on Wednesday, with neighbours France and Italy opening the quarterfinal stage at 17:30 local time (15:30 GMT). The reigning Olympic and VNL champions reached this phase of the competition after winning all their matches in Pool D, including a thrilling five-setter against hosts Slovenia, and persevering through another five-set battle with Japan in the Round of 16. European champions Italy, on the other hand, cruised through Pool E without dropping a single set, and then defeated Cuba in four sets on the way to the quarterfinals.
It will be the 59th encounter between the two teams at major world-level competitions. Italy have won 35 of the previous 58 matches with France. The French, however, shut out the Italians in their last two meetings earlier this summer, in the Volleyball Nations League 2022 Preliminary Phase and then in the semifinals of the competition. Italy have three titles and a silver on their World Championship record, while their opponents have a bronze medal from 20 years ago.
Slovenia v Ukraine
Later on Wednesday, at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT), Slovenia will try to take advantage of the huge support from their fans on the stands as they take on Ukraine in a duel for a semifinal berth. For both teams, it is only the second World Championship appearance and the first quarterfinal in history, so whoever makes it to the semis will be celebrating a truly historic achievement. The home team finished runners-up to France in Pool D and then eliminated Germany in a four-set Round of 16 match. Ukraine took second place in Pool A in Poland before travelling to Ljubljana to deliver a sensational straight-set upset of the Netherlands en route to the last eight. With captain Oleh Plotnytskyi (the tournament’s best server so far on 13 aces) leading the way, the eastern Europeans will try to produce another huge upset on Wednesday evening.
Slovenia defeated Ukraine in their only previous meeting at the world level, a London 2012 Olympic qualifier in 2011. After that, they met four times at a continental level, tying that series at two wins apiece. Their most recent encounter in a 2018 CEV European League match went Slovenia’s way after a five-set battle.
Argentina v Brazil
A classic South American derby between Argentina and Brazil will open Arena Gliwice for business on Thursday at 17:30 local time (15:30 GMT). After squeezing through the pool phase with a single win in three five-setters, that placed them third in Pool F, Argentina hammered out a straight-set victory over Serbia in the Round of 16. On the other hand, after losing their first two sets at the World Championship, Brazil won their next 12 to take first place in Pool B and claim a Round of 16 shutout of Iran. Argentina’s opposite Bruno Lima (73 points) and Brazil’s outside hitter Yoandy Leal (68 points), who are the best scorers still in the competition, are set to engage in a face-to-face point-making race, also joined by Lima’s teammate on the outside, Facundo Conte, who is right below them in that chart with 67 points to his name.
The two South American neighbours exchanged five-set victories at last year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with Brazil winning in a pool match, but Argentina celebrating in the bronze medal game. It was only Argentina’s sixth success against Brazil out of 45 meetings at the world level. In their most recent encounter, at the 2021 South American Championship, Brazil claimed a four-set victory on the way to the title. While Brazil have picked up three World Championship trophies in addition to three silver medals, Argentina’s only podium came with a bronze back 1982.
Poland v United States
The last quarterfinal (21:00 local / 19:00 GMT on Thursday) will feature the teams of Poland and the United States. They finished Pool C winners and runners-up, respectively, after the hosts managed to beat the Americans by 3-1 in the direct duel between the two teams. In the Round of 16, Poland shut out Tunisia, while USA had to battle their way through five sets against Türkiye.
It will be the 45th encounter between the two teams at a major world-level competition and the fourth head-to-head meeting this summer alone. Poland won 23 and USA claimed 21 of the previous 44 matches. Before the World Championship, the Americans lost to the Europeans in four sets during the VNL 2022 Preliminary Phase, but then swept them in straight sets in the semifinals. Poland are on a quest for their third consecutive and fourth overall World Championship title. They also have a silver on their record. The United States have tallied one gold and two bronze medals in the history of volleyball’s premier competition.