Olympic Playoff Update for the European Men


    Article Thu, Jul 29 2021

    After three matches in each of the pools, there remains a fierce battle to grab playoff spots at the bottom of each group. Only one team has remained undefeated so far, and the results have been unpredictable and tense. Remember, the top four teams of each pool will move on to a quarterfinals crossover with the opposing pool.

    In Pool A, four teams have garnered a 2-1 record so far: Poland, Japan, Iran, & Italy. Canada stand at 1-2 and Venezuela remains winless so far. With two games left to play for every team however, there is likely to still be some movement among the standings.  Both the European teams in Pool A are likely to move on, with one of Italy’s remaining games being against the winless Venezuela and Poland being heavily favoured against Japan and Canada in their next two.

    The bottom of the pool is a little more interesting, with a three-way race between Iran, Japan, and Canada. Japan and Iran could solidify their place in the playoffs with wins against Poland & Italy, respectively. While anything can happen at the Olympics, wins here are unlikely for the Asian countries against two of Europe’s best, and the match between Japan and Iran on Sunday will most likely grant a playoff spot to the winner and an elimination to the loser. Canada should get through in the last spot with a win a 3-0 or 3-1 win over Venezuela, ending up with 2 wins and 7 points. This could get messy if Iran beats Japan 3-2 on Sunday to tie Canada in points, in which case we will go to set ratio. Pool A will go down to the wire, but Italy and Poland should stay safe and cross over with the bottom of Pool B.

    Pool B has been deemed the more competitive one since the draw, and has rung true so far, with the outcome remaining completely unpredictable for the top 5 teams (sorry Tunisia). Russia has bounced back from a middling VNL performance by beating Brazil, USA, & Argentina with full points and has all but guaranteed first place in the pool. USA & Brazil both have two wins so one victory in the next two should cement their playoff spot.

    The last team through in pool B will come down to Argentina & France. Argentina has the advantage here, with one of their remaining games being against the weaker Tunisian side, while France has two of the best in the world to contend with in USA & Brazil on their schedule. Team Yavbou will need to dig deep at play at peak form in order to have a chance at enough points to leap over Argentina. While the talent on France in undeniable, they have not been able to pull it together this tournament and they have a good chance at being the first European team eliminated on the men’ side.