National Team News
National Team News
There is no rest for the wicked and just two weeks removed from competing in the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men, 12 European teams will enter the fray in a nail-biting competition, as six tickets will be awarded for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in three Olympic Qualification Tournaments, which are due to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tokyo, Japan and Xi’an, People’s Republic of China.
The three Pools will be played between 30 September and 8 October, with the top two sides in each group earning their tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
After Türkiye, Serbia and Poland sealed their places at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after the Olympic Qualification Tournaments in the women’s competition, joining hosts France, ambitions are high for the 12 European sides, which include the finalists of the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men, Poland and Italy, as well as the bronze medallists, Slovenia.
Each of the three Olympic Qualification Tournaments has four European teams starting with big ambitions, with the runners-up of the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men, Italy, being drawn into Pool A, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil, who have never missed an edition of the Olympic Games since volleyball has been introduced at Tokyo 1964, will be one of the favourites, but the silver medallists at the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men will be also looking to add their 13th consecutive Olympic berth, after qualifying for every competition since 1976 onwards, winning three silver medals and three bronze medals.
After finishing on the eighth place at the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men, Ukraine, which lost against Slovenia in the quarter-finals of the competition, are also aiming for their first-ever Olympic berth, while Czechia, which finished on the 12th place in the European premium competition, are aiming to be back in the Olympic competition for the first time since 1976.
While failing to make the quarter-finals at the CEV EuroVolley for the first time since 2011, due to their loss against the Netherlands in the Eighth Finals, Germany can be considered one of the dark horses of the Pool, trying to be back at the Olympic Games after missing the Tokyo 2020 edition, with back-to-back appearances at London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Cuba, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Qatar are the other three teams in a well-balanced pool, with two big favourites, Brazil and Italy, but also with some big outsiders which can spring some surprises during.
Pool B looks to be a true nail-biter, with plenty of teams ready to pounce and deliver some excellent performances to achieve their objectives. Japan will be buoyed by the prospect of playing in front of their home fans, but the United States of America, Slovenia and Serbia definitely look like good bets of derailing their campaign.
Slovenia, who have sealed the bronze medal at the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men, their fourth medal in the last five editions of the competition, have a huge incentive to deliver a good performance here, trying to make their first-ever appearance at the Olympic Games in their history.
Coincidentally, they have won against Türkiye and Finland only one month ago, at the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men, taking a clear 3:0 win against Finland, but struggling against Türkiye, with a nail-biting 3:2 win (15:13 in the final set), in the Eighth Finals.
Türkiye and Finland, who have won only three matches between them at the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men, also make up the pool, with Serbia being another dark horse in Tokyo, as they are trying to rekindle the flame, after missing out on the last two editions of the Olympic Games. Egypt and Tunisia will be the outsiders of the pool, but can spring a surprise or two in any given day.
The current European champions, Poland, will travel to Xi’an, in the People’s Republic of China, to feature in the Pool C, as the big favourites to seal a ticket to Paris 2024. In the past five editions of the Olympic Games, Poland had the same result – the fifth place, after being eliminated in the quarter-finals, aiming to change that at Paris 2024.
They had a flawless performance at the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men, with nine wins out of nine matches and only four sets dropped throughout the competition, hoping to translate that form into the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Xi’an. With the MVP of the CEV EuroVolley 2023 Men in their roster, Wilfredo Leon, Poland are the big favourites for the first place.
Their closest challenger looks to be Argentina, but the Netherlands will also be looking keenly at a Paris 2024 Olympic Games spot, after delivering an excellent performance in the European top competition one month ago, being eliminated in the quarter-finals by Italy, after a topsy-turvy match, with the hosts needing a 3:2 win to progress.
The Netherlands have not qualified for the Olympic Games since 2004, but will face some stern challenges from Bulgaria and Belgium, the two other European sides in the pool, which seem like outsiders at the start. Hosts China, Canada and Mexico complete the pool in Xi’an.