Taking place in Bologna, Italy, the fourth edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Nations League has approached the quarterfinal stage with multiple squads angling for the title. In this annual men’s international volleyball tournament, four teams are looking to advance to the semifinals. In the first matchup of the day, No. 4 ranked France squares with No. 5 Japan in what should be a spectacular shootout. In the other contest of the day, the upstart Iranian squad has a showdown with No. 2 Poland in what will be a pivotal David vs. Goliath battle.
For this article, SBS will go over what to look for from each team and also the predicted winner in each contest.
Team Spotlight: Japan
In the preliminary round of the tournament, Japan has notched a solid record of 9-3 to go along with an impressive 27 points in the standings. A team that is on the rise, this is Japan’s best performance at the World Championships since they were able to reach the 5th-8th semifinals back in 2006. The Japanese have been riding a wave of momentum since the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in their home country. During the latest Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Japan team advanced to the quarterfinals round which was good for their best finish in 29 years.
Team Spotlight: France
Opposing the Japanese squad will be the French team that is just one spot higher than them in the international rankings. As the No. 4 team according to the FIVB rankings, France currently boasts a record of 9-3 and also maintains an impressive set win tally of 31-11. The gold medal winners from the Tokyo Olympics, the French are one of the most well-rounded squads in this field. Similar to Japan, France is riding a hot streak as of late and being the current Olympic champions, they certainly have that honor.
Prediction: This will be a close battle given the similarities in record from both squads, but look for the gold medal winners, France, to advance to the semifinals after a tilt with Japan.
Team Spotlight: Iran
While the first spotlight matchup on this list featured two teams closely packed together in the world rankings, the second contest included two squads on opposite ends of the top eight. The underdog in this contest will be the upstart Iranian squad that has turned heads with their plucky play. With an overall record of 7-5, Iran has found ways to win where they have needed to and are the current reigning champions from the 2021 Volleyball Asian Championship. After a ninth place finish at the Tokyo Olympics, the Iranian team is looking to advance to the semifinals at the World Championships for the first time in their country’s history.
Team Spotlight: Poland
Currently recognized as the No. 1 team in the world, Poland has done a great job of overwhelming their competition. With an overall record of 10-2, the Polish squad also leads the rankings with 33 scoring points. Poland is also historically one of the world’s strongest teams with the squad being the reigning World Champions since 2014 (they also won the title in 2018). Poland has been bolstered by a superb performance from server Mateusz Bieniek and overall has a fantastic roster that contributes at just the right time.
Prediction: While this will be a tough battle, Poland has the edge here given their dominance as of late at the national level.
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