A place in the quarterfinals of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship will be up for grabs when Iran and Brazil square off in the Polish city of Gliwice on Tuesday.
Iran beat Argentina (3-2) and Egypt (3-1) before a four-set defeat against the Netherlands saw Behrouz Ataei’s men settle for the second spot in Pool F.
Brazil, meanwhile, will step onto the court at the Gliwice Arena on the back of three victories over Cuba (3-2), Japan (3-0), and Qatar (3-0), which gave the three-time champion a top-spot finish in Pool B.
The South American heavyweight is the most decorated team in the history of the competition – after Soviet Union’s six-time gold-winning side – and is chasing a first title since lifting the trophy on three successive occasions between 2002 and 2010.
Brazil has actually been a part of the final showpiece in the previous five editions, coming short against Poland in 2014 and 2018.
Tuesday’s encounter will be the 20th meeting between the two sides, with Brazil enjoying a 17-2 record against the Asian opponent.
It’s been eight years since Iran came out victorious against Brazil twice at the FIVB World League – now replaced by the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) – which saw the Asian side establish itself on the global stage of the sport.
The two teams last met in the VNL preliminary round in June when the South Americans came on top in straight sets.
Ataei will again count on skipper Milad Ebadipour, who finished the group phase as the seventh best scorer, and opposite spiker Amin Esmaeilnejad for points, while his players will have to be in their best form when defending against Ricardo Lucarelli and his teammates.
“The game against Iran will surely be a tough one. We’ve have played them on numerous occasions before and each contest was demanding. This one will be no exception,” Lucarelli said of the match against the reigning Asian champion.
“Iran is a hard-working team and their players are very good in reception. I just hope we can repeat the VNL victory against them, though the circumstances are totally different when it comes to the World Championship and the previous victories do not guarantee a triumph on Tuesday,” added the veteran outside hitter.
The winner of Tuesday’s match will face either Serbia or Argentina in the quarters.
Poland, USA through
Poland stayed on course for a third consecutive crown with a comfortable victory over Tunisia on Sunday.
Kamil Semeniuk chipped in a game-high 13 points for the home side, followed by captain Bartosz Kurek (11 points) as Poland eased to a straight-set win (25-20, 25-15, 25-20).
The Poles will go head-to-head with USA in the quarterfinals in a repeat of the VNL last-four clash in June, which the Americans won in three sets.
USA withstood a late fightback by a spirited Turkey team to win a five-set thriller (25-21, 25-17, 22-25, 19-25, 15-12).
Middle blocker David Smith scored 17 for the Americans, with Matthew Anderson and Aaron Russell contributing 15 and 13 respectively.
Turkish opposite Adis Lagumdzija had 31 points.