Semifinals start tomorrow: Poland will face Slovenia (at 17.30), while Serbia will face Italy (at 21.00).
This is the third stage of the European Championships in Poland: the hosts, after hosting Pool A at the Tauron Arena in Krakow and Eighths and Quarters in Gdansk at the Ergo Arena, will host semifinals and finals in Katowice, in the historic Spodek Arena, which is reported everywhere, around the web, as a tourist destination not to be missed!
Poland are in their 11th consecutive appearance at the European Championships, since they last missed out in 1999, and won the 2009 title in Turkey.
Poland finished second in the European Championships on five occasions: 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981 and 1983, while they also finished at third place in 1967, 2011 and 2019.
Poland have won eight of nine games in the 2019 edition, with one only exception: the 3-1 defeat to Slovenia in the semi-finals.
About this edition, Poland has won all the games played so far, 5 in the first phase (3-2 to Serbia the most complicated game), 3-0 to Finland in the Round of 16, 3-0 also to Russia in the quarter-finals.
As we already know, Poland will face Slovenia in first semifinal.
Slovenia is in its ninth participation in the European Championships, the eighth in a row, and has already climbed the podium twice, on both occasions with a second place: in 2015 and as co-hosts in 2019.
With the two finals lost, from a statistical point of view, Slovenia is the country to have played the highest number of finals for gold in the European Championships without ever winning.
In the 2015 final they lost 3-0 to France, and lost 3-1 to Serbia in the 2019 final.
About second semifinal, interestingly, Serbia may become the first team in recent years to win two consecutive European Championships after Italy, in 2003 and 2005 (Italy also won two editions in a row in 1993-1995).
This was also done by the Soviet Union (1950-1951 and nine in a row from 1967 to 1987), and by Czechoslovakia (1955-1958).
Serbia (including the period with the name Serbia&Montenegro) has taken the podium in 10 of the last 13 European Championships, but in this period they have failed to get a place in the top three in 2003 (fourth), 2009 (fifth) and 2015 (seventh).
Serbia had started this edition of the European Championships with a streak of 10 consecutive victories after the 3-2 defeat against Germany in the 2017 semifinals: the winning streak reached 12 consecutive victories before the 2-3 against Poland, in the third match of the Pool Stage!
Serbia will face Italy in second semifinal.
As for Italy, they have won six European Championships: in 1989, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2005, respectively.
The only other team that has reached this result is Russia, which boasts the record of 14, including 12 as the Soviet Union.
Italy’s sixth (and most recent) success at the European Championships dates back to 2005 (as co-host), when they defeated Russia in five sets in the final in Rome.
They have since won two silvers on two editions: 2011 (3-1 defeat to Serbia in the final in Vienna, Austria) and 2013 (3-1 defeat to Russia in the final in Copenhagen, Denmark).
Moreover, Italy participated in 30 of the previous 31 European Championships, not participating in the second edition of the competition, and it was 1950.
Italy could remain off the podium for the third consecutive time in a European championship.
In the last two editions, Italy placed fifth in 2017 and sixth in 2019.
Interestingly, Italy reaches the Semifinals with a perfect path: 5 victories in the Pool Stage, a clear win over the modest Latvia in the Round of 16, success in straight sets against a virtually non-existent Germany.
But did you know that on only one occasion in the last 11 European Championships, the tournament was won by the team that played the final on the home court?
It was Italy’s triumph in the 2005 event, when they defeated Russia 3-2 in Rome!