Volleyball superpower Slovenia will play today in Rome in the fourth semi-final of the last five European championships. The opponents are the world runners-up and winners of the League of Nations, the Poles, who were eliminated by the Slovenians in the last four European championships.
In 2015, they were better in the quarter-finals (3:2), in 2017 in the rematch for the quarter-finals (3:0), and in 2019 and 2021 in the semi-finals (both times with 3:1). This year, the two teams met twice. In the League of Nations in July in the Philippines, it was 3:2 for the Poles, and the Slovenians beat them in August at the last preparatory tournament before the European Championship, and at the Wagner Memorial in Krakow they were better with 3:0.
Three semi-finals, three wins
The Slovenians have always jumped over the semi-final hurdle at the European championships and ended up with a silver medal.
“We await the semi-final match with great impatience. We used the day for training in the gym, got to know her and tried to prepare as well as possible for Thursday’s match.” he said Klemen Čebulj, who, with the exception of 2017, has played in all matches with Poland in recent years. “We know the Poles well, we have faced and defeated them many times. But that doesn’t mean anything now, Thursday will be a new day that will bring a new match. We will have to play our game and try to surprise them.” Čebulj added.
An important match also in the fight for the Olympic Games
Poland is the first national team in the world strength ranking. A possible victory would count twice, as Slovenia would get a lot of points for the ranking, which, in the event of failure at the qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games in October in Japan, will play a decisive role for tickets to Paris 2024.
The Poles won all seven matches at this year’s EP. They dropped three sets, one each in the two elimination matches against Belgium and Serbia.
Cretu: Everything will depend on us
“First of all, we will have to fight for every ball, but at the same time be focused and play collectively. Competitors are likely to try this as well. Any team at this level can change their game at a moment’s notice, so we will have to be as connected as possible on the pitch and understand what the Poles will want to do and adapt to it. We are capable of doing the same. The match will be decided by the details and how the rivals will react when one of the teams does better on the field. Everything will depend on us!” said the Slovenian coach Gheorghe Cretu.
The Poles are statistically at the top in the block and serve
With 4.1 blocks per game, the Poles are the best team in this championship by leaps and bounds. They are also at the top in terms of the number of aces per set (1.9), while they have the second most accurate attack after the Italians (46%) with a success rate of 44%.
“Our pre-match thinking is very simple – how to best prepare for our opponents and how to present the best volleyball game possible. We have already played many matches with the Poles. Whoever shows the best game will win. Often one or two balls decide the match. I just want us to stay focused and play at the highest level for as long as possible. We will fight for every ball!” is the determined Slovenian captain Tina Urnaut.
The match will start at 18:00. The studio part on TV SLO 2 will be at 5:30 p.m.
Thursday at 18:00:POLAND – SLOVENIA
At 21.15:ITALY – FRANCE
The final and third place match will be held on Saturday.