2018 FIVB MEN’S VOLLEYBALL NATIONS LEAGUE – WEEK 1/POOL 3
- May 25th-27th, 2018
- Kraljevo Sports Hall, Kraljevo, Serbia (Capacity: 3,331)
- Time Zone: GMT + 2 (US Eastern Time +6)
- World Rankings: #1 Brazil, #4 Italy, #10 Germany, #11 Serbia
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Entering the first week of the Volleyball Nations League, all 16 teams are on equal footing. This year, our team predicts it will take 25 or 26 points, which translates to 2 wins per week, to advance out of pool play to the Final 6.
A 3-0 or a 3-1 win earns the maximum 3 points for the winner and 0 points for the losers. A 3-2 win earns 2 points for the winner and 1 point for the loser.
Brazil’s story leading up to this Nations League has revolved almost entirely around complaints of the travel conditions – calling their schedule “inhuman”, strong-arming the federation into taking half-a-million dollars from the beach program to fund their first class travel, and trying to determine the difference between “real” and “fake” liberos.
And they still enter week 1 of the 2018 FIVB Men’s Volleyball World League as the favorites, thanks largely to their relatively-complete roster. But, they risk a stumbling block by distraction, especially in a pool with an Italian team that has something to prove.
Italy finished dead-last in last year’s World League Group 1, without many of their Olympic silver medal winning stars, but are now back nearly to full force. They’ll co-host this summer’s World Championships with Bulgaria, and so these matches take on a special significance as preparation for that tournament in September.
Germany last year was top of the table in pool play in the 3rd tier of the World League, but stumbled in the playoff series. They’re the underdog of this group.
Serbia is the bumper team in this group that has the potential to be the toughest round 1 group of the tournament. They were the 2016 World League champions, but slid to 5th place last year. They’ve got the talent to contend for the title, and are one of the few teams that was able to call up effectively all of their “A” lineup, including the players fresh off the Champions League Final.
STORYLINES TO WATCH
- Brazil – Brazil lost a thriller to France, in front of a home crowd, last year in the World League final. Their biggest problem last year was generating any consistent offense from anybody besides Ricardo Lucarelli and Wallace de Souza. Lucarelli isn’t available this year (he’s still working back from an Achilles injury), so Brazil is going to be forced to find a second offensive option.
- Germany – The Germans had to hide their 19-year old liberos at last year’s World League. This year, they’re a year older, but the team still has an outside hitter Egor Bogachev as their starter. Floor defense isn’t nearly as important in the men’s game as it is in the women’s, but that’s still going to hurt them against the big hitters they’ll see in this pool.
- Italy – With Ivan Zaytsev and Osmany Juantorena coming straight off long club seasons, culminating with the Champions League final, fatigue could be a factor here (Zaytsev seemed to be facing it in the Final 4 earlier this month). The Nations League schedule is brutal, and if Italy is going to make it to July, they might need to find those two some rest at some point in this tournament.
- Serbia – 2016 World League MVP Marko Ivovic was in-form in the team’s last friendly against Iran. He had 11 points in 2 sets, with 73% positive reception and 71% hitting (10 kills on 14 swings).