FIVB Volleyball Word Championship 2022: It is time for the final battles between the last four teams left!
The semifinals will be played on Saturday and, by the end of Sunday, we will known the new world champions.
It is all back to the Spodek Arena in Katowice, where hosts Poland will face Brazil in the first semifinal tomorrow at 18:00 local time (16:00 GMT) while, three hours later, co-hosts Slovenia will face Italy in second semifinal. The medal matches on Sunday will have the same starting times.
What about Poland and Brazil?
These two teams, that met themselves in the final matches of the previous two editions of the competition, now will lock horns in the semifinals. They have both reached this stage undefeated. Poland won Pool C in Katowice, dropping a single set against USA. Then they destroyed Tunisia before the amazing five-set quarterfinal battle played yesterday, in which they beat the United States for the second time in the competition.
Brazil, on the other hand, finished first in Pool B in Ljubljana, after losing two sets against Cuba.
In the Round of 16, they defeated Iran in straight sets, and in the quarterfinals, they eliminated Argentina in four.
About numbers and statistics, Yoandy Leal with Brazil’s jersey is the current leader in the best attackers chart of the competition, as well as the main candidate for becoming the top scorer of the World Championship, as he is now second with 93 points, only two behind Dutch opposite Nimir Abdel-Aziz who, of course, is no longer in the competition (the Netherlands was in fact eliminated by Ukraine in Round of 16).
Poland’s middle Mateusz Bieniek is second in the best blockers standings, but is also likely to take the lead as he is just behind current leader Agustin Loser of Argentina. His teammate outside hitter Kamil Semeniuk has the best chance to top the best servers charts, but he will need to produce at least eight aces across two matches to reach Ukraine’s Oleh Plotnytskyi.
Interestingly, Poland and Brazil will meet for the 65th time at a major world-level competition, with Brazil who won 42 of the previous 64 matches!
Their most recent encounter took place in the Preliminary Phase of the Volleyball Nations League 2022 and finished 3-1 for Poland.
On the other hand, Brazil have played in a total of six World Championship finals, including the last five, and have won the title three times, while Poland are three-time world champions too.
They defeat Brazil in both 2014 and 2018 editions, and lost against the same rivals in the 2006 final.
The second Saturday’s semifinal will be between Italy and Slovenia, basically an interesting remake of last September’s CEV European Championship final, when Italy won the tifle after an intense five-set battle.
Italy have yet to lose a match at this World Championship, as they won Ljubljana’s Pool E after three straight-set wins. Then they dropped a set against Cuba in the Round of 16, and then eliminated reigning Olympic and VNL champions France in a five-set quarterfinal battle. Slovenia finished runners-up to France in Pool D too, after losing their direct clash at tie break.
Then they celebrated 3-1 wins over Germany and Ukraine to take their first World Championship semifinal in history.
Slovenian outside Klemen Cebulj is just seven points behind Brazil’s Leal in the best scorers ranking, and nine points behind in points in attack, so he holds a good chance to fly to the top of these charts by the end of Sunday.
Italian setter Simone Giannelli is quite likely to top the final ranking for best setters, where he is now second to Argentina’s Luciano De Cecco, while his teammate, libero Fabio Balaso shares the first place in the best diggers standings with his Brazilian counterpart Thales.
Italy won their first World Championship match against Slovenia in four sets, four years ago, when they met again also in the first pool stage of the 2018 edition.
After that, they met twice at the world level, both times in the Volleyball Nations League, and the matches ended both in straight-set: Slovenia won in 2021 and Italy in 2022, earlier this summer.
If Slovenia have progressed to the semifinals of the World Championships for the first time in history, Italy aim to add a fifth medal to their collection, in which boast three golds and a silver.
However, they have not played in a World Championship final since 1998!