Men take the court in Rio with the Olympics on the horizon

Men take the court in Rio with the Olympics on the horizon
Fecha de publicación: 
21 May 2024
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After six exciting days of women’s matches, the iconic Maracanãzinho stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is set to welcome the men in the Volleyball Nations League 2024 as they begin their campaigns in the Preliminary Phase.

Besides the host country, Argentina, Cuba, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan and Serbia will be on the court from Tuesday to Sunday, with each of them playing four matches in Pool 2.

  • Watch Volleyball Nations League 2024 live on VBTV

Many of the 16 matches held in Rio de Janeiro will have major implications in the race for the final four spots at the Paris Olympics, including the two duels set to take place on the opening day – Argentina vs. Japan, at 17:30 local time (20:30 GMT), and Cuba vs. Brazil, at 21:00 local time (00:00 GTM, Wednesday).

While the Japanese are already guaranteed in the Games, having earned their spot at last year’s Volleyball Olympic Qualifier, the Argentineans will need to wait until the end of the VNL Preliminary Phase to confirm their presence.

Currently the second-best team not yet qualified for Paris to appear in the FIVB World Rankings in sixth place with 314.35 points, the South Americans need to preserve their position to return to the Games after winning bronze three years ago in Tokyo. With that in mind, a victory over fourth-placed Japan would bring their goal much closer, adding up to 11.44 points to their total.

Determined to get the points they need as quickly as possible, the Argentineans should bring their top players to Rio, including star setter Luciano De Cecco, outside hitter Facundo Conte, opposite Bruno Lima and middle blocker Agustin Loser.

The second duel of the day in Rio will have the same scenario, with already qualified Brazil facing Olympic hopefuls Cuba. The Caribbean are just the fifth team not qualified in the Rankings, appearing in 11th place, and need to pass at least one of their competitors to book their tickets to Tokyo.

The Cubans (236.96) are 16.6 points behind Serbia, the last team inside the qualification zone, and have an opportunity to significantly cut their lead, gaining up to 15.2 points in case of a victory over fifth-placed Brazil in their VNL debut.

Cuba have some of the most powerful outside hitters in international volleyball in Marlon Yant and Miguel Angel Lopez and recently brought star middle blocker Robertlandy Simon back to the national team after several years.

Germany, Italy, Iran and Serbia play on Wednesday

Wednesday’s schedule in Rio will also feature a pair of matches, with European rivals Germany and Italy opening the day at 17:30 local time (20:30 GMT) and Iran and Serbia meeting later, at 21:00 local time (00:00 GMT, Thursday). Both encounters will have an impact on the Olympic race as three of the four teams involved are yet to qualify.

Volleyball Nations League 2024: schedule and results

Germany have already booked their tickets to Paris, but could get in Italy’s way once again, as they did at last year’s Volleyball Olympic Qualifier. The Italians are the best team among the ones not qualified in the FIVB World Rankings, appearing in third place, with 342.43 points, but could drop as many as 14.85 of those if they fell to the Germans.

In the other duel, victory will be mandatory for both Serbians and Iranians as they attempt to qualify. The Europeans are inside the qualification zone, in ninth place, with 253.22 points, and could use the up to 7.51 they would get with a victory to get more separation from the teams trailing them. That includes Iran, who are currently 15th with 207.82 and need to collect every point they can to keep their Olympic dream alive, starting with the 12.49 in play against the Serbians.

Starting on Thursday, three matches will be held daily at the Maracanãzinho until the end of the week.

The VNL 2024 will also be in Antalya, Türkiye, in the opening week, where the host country, Bulgaria, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and the United States will play.

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