With the last pool phase matches in Montpellier and Ljubljana concluded yesterday, and Pool B and D today in Belgium and Netherlands today, here’s the best eight teams of each Pools!
Eight Final Matches (NED) – APELDOORN, NED
The Netherlands – Germany 16.00 Local Time
Poland – Spain 20.00 Local Time
Eight Final Matches (SLO) – LJUBLJANA, SLO
Russia – Greece 17.30 Local Time
Slovenia – Bulgaria 20.30 Local Time
Eight Final Matches (BEL) – ANTWERP, BEL
Serbia – Czech Repulic 17.30 Local Time
Belgium – Ukraine 20.30 Local Time
Eight Final Matches (FRA) – NANTES, FRA
France – Finland 19.30 Local Time
Eight Final Matches (FRA) – NANTES, FRA
Italy – Turkey 17.00 Local Time
Pool A – Montpellier
1 – France: As expected of the pool favourites with home court advantage, France dominated the group without lost a single set. Their first true test came only in their last match against Italy: they had to suffer their first defeat, but it was not France!
2 – Italy: Italy went through the initial round of the competition unbeaten, up until the much-anticipated encounter with France. All of Italy’s victories came with a score of 3-1, except the straight sets victory against Portugal. Italy fighted, but had to settle for a defeat in four sets and second spot in the pool ranking.
3 – Bulgaria: With their last pool phase match played two days ago, Bulgaria could rest assured of their third place in Pool A. They dropped only one set in the first three days and matches and they suffered a defeat only vs. the best two teams of the Pool, France and Italy.
4 – Greece: Greece did not have a particularly good start in the competition and their only victory came against Romania (3-1). However, on the last day, in which they could only wait for the result of the game between Portugal and Romania, the incredible happened, and in the end all three participants shared the same number of wins and identical set ratio, with Greece edging Portugal by just 0.003 in small points ratio – one extra point won, or one less lost in any of their 5 matches would have seen Portugal go through.
Pool B – Brussels & Antwerp
1 – Serbia: Serbia complete Pool B with a near perfect record, winning all five matches and lost just one set vs. Spain on their way to securing top spot. They will be looking to continue this rich vein of form into the knock-out stages of the competition.
2 – Belgium: the hosts will be quite content with their performances and results in the Pool, in particular the 3-2 victory over Germany on their opening match day. With 11 points from their 4 wins they finished comfortably second.
3 – Germany: After the bad opening day in which they suffered a 0-3 defeat against Serbia, followed by a tie-break loss to the home side Belgium, Germany would have known that third place was likely. What they would not have expected however, is that the point they got from that match was crucial to help them reach that. On the last match they suffered a bad defeat in four sets against Spain, and it’s sure that it has not been the start that the 2017 silver medallists would have been expected.
4 – Spain: With very good performances in nearly all of their matches, they take the final 1/8 Final spot in Pool B. Spain’s matches have been some of the most enthralling and they end the pool with six points and every result possible to their name, except a straight sets victory.
Pool C – Ljubljana
1 – Russia: The reigning European champions were, of course, the heavy favourites in Pool C, and they won all their matches either 3-0 or 3-1. In the last match, played against the hosts Slovenia in the sold-out Stozice Arena they needed only two sets to secure their first place. They did that, winning 3-0 and staying unbeaten in the tournament so far.
2 – Slovenia: Hosts Slovenia, pushed by their fans through Pool C ranks, even if they suffered an unexpected 1-3 defeat at the hands of North Macedonia before facing Russia. Regardless of the end result of that last clash they put on a great show for the near 11,000 spectators in the arena.
3 – Turkey: Turkey’s result of two three-point victories and two zero-point defeats was enough for them to start the last Pool encounter with a guaranteed ticket to the eighthfinals, possibly even 2nd place in the pool. After losing a five-sets battle against Finland their 3rd place was confirmed.
4 – Finland: Finland have had ups and downs in Ljubljana so far, winning only their very first encounter, 3-0 with North Macedonia. However, it was their last match and second win against Turkey that put them in the 1/8 Finals.
Pool D – Rotterdam & Amsterdam
1 – Poland: The reigning double world champions did not disappoint their numerous fans so far, taking Pool D by storm, winning all their matches and losing only one set (25:27), in their first match, against Estonia.
2 – The Netherlands: Pool D hosts rested on the final day of this phase, assured of a place in the 1/8 Finals, having scored three three-point victories against Montenegro, Ukraine and Estonia but did lose to Poland in straight sets and, quite unexpectedly, against Czech Republic 2-3.
3 – Ukraine: Ukraine lost only one match of the first four, giving in 0-3 to the Netherlands. Their participation in the eighth finals was thus guaranteed before their last match, in which they suffered another 0-3 loss, this time to the pool toppers Poland.
4 – Czech Republic: They scored two victories in the first four matches of Pool D. They won a hard match in straight sets against Estonia (34:32 and 28:26 in sets two and three) but the points taken from the match were crucial. The thrilling 3-2 victory against the hosts gave Czech Republic real chances for the top 16. In their last match against Montenegro they needed to win only two sets to qualify and they it, with excellent performance by their opposite Jan Hadrava author of 39 points, including 10 aces.
Source: CEV. Images: CEV, randomvolley.