We cannot imagine the 2020 Olympics without Italy’s men’s volleyball team.
With the revelation of the pools for the upcoming Olympic Qualification Tournament in August this year, Italy is in the same pool with European rivals Serbia, Australian and Cameroon. No doubt Serbia will be Italy’s toughest match in this pool and we should never under estimate the Volleyroos from Australia who can spoil the party in the group.
One major factor why the Italians have the toughest road to the 2020 Olympics is the absence of OSMANY JUANTORENA.
The Cuban turned Italian player has announced his retirement right after the 2018 World Championship. The 33 year old was the team’s best outside hitter on the team since 2015. The
Zaytsev-Juantorena was a very effective duo for Italy with both players leading the team to win the silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“Si chiude finalmente questo lunghissimo anno 2018 con una bella vittoria, dopo 79 gare tra Nazionale e Club . È stato un anno molto lungo e difficile con tanti momenti belli e brutti come l’importante decisione di lasciare la maglia Azzurra. Però sono tranquilo e sereno perché so di essermi impegnato al massimo e di aver dato tutto. Adesso arriva un nuovo anno pieno di impegni e tante sfide da affrontare ! Approfitto per fare gli auguri a tutti voi e buon 2019! Che sia una anno ricco di successi . Grazie”
Without Junatorena’s absence, who is left?
There’s Filippo Lanza who has been on and off with his game. There’s Luigi Randazzo who is still recovering from a knee injury and may return in full shape by August. 2016 Olympic medalist Antonov was not part of the team at the World Championship but is he good enough to start and replace Juantorena? Finally, Gabriele Maruotti who has been with the national team but was never a starter.
To sum it up, Italy is in trouble with the lack of reliable outside hitters at the moment.
Will Juantorena change his mind? The possibility is always there BUT it seems his decision is final. However, we hope he gives Italy one more shot and help the team make it to Tokyo next year.
ZAYTSEV CANNOT DO IT ALONE.
As for the other pools, check it out below:
Pool A: Brazil, Egypt, Bulgaria, Puerto Rico
Pool B: USA, Belgium, Netherlands, Korea
Pool C: Italy, Serbia, Australia, Cameroon
Pool D: Poland, France, Slovenia, Tunisia
Pool E: Russia, Iran, Cuba, Mexico
Pool F: Canada, Argentina, Finland, China
By the looks of it, reigning Olympic Champpions Brazil seem to have the easiest pool followed by Pool E with Russia expected to win their group. Pool C and D are like the Pools Of Death while B and F look balanced. Belgium and The Netherlands will challenge USA for sure and the same goes for Canada and Argentina.