Because of the pandemic, many events were cancelled. People had to watch movies and play with casino free spins instead of going for a walk or visiting their favorite sports matches. Due to this reason, volleyball teams have not competed in over a year. The main event of the year, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo had to be moved to the summer of 2021. Let’s take our minds off the club competitions right now and try to predict which of the unobvious favorites could take a swing at medals in Japan.
France has not historically been a trendsetter in volleyball. Nevertheless, the French have made notable progress over the past decade. You can see this both by watching their matches and just looking at the results of recent international tournaments.
The French team has traditionally performed well in the League of Nations, winning there in 2015 and 2017. Besides, the French won the European Championship not so long ago (2015).
Interestingly, it is the rejectionist defense game that is the distinctive feature of the French. They also rely on technique and court vision.
At the 2016 Olympics, the French didn’t even make the playoffs. This time, in my opinion, they have every chance to improve that result. Of course, it is hard to count on prizes in such competition.
In November, the news that Vladimir Alekno would lead the Iranian Olympic team was announced like a snowball’s eye. So, the legendary expert will get his fourth stint as the head coach at the Olympic Games. This news gave another reason to consider the Iranians as one of the favorites of the tournament. In the last League of Nations it became clear that Iran can play on equal terms with any national team. Club teams from this country have won the Asian Champions League for several years in a row.
There are several stars on the team, the main one still being the perennial Saeid Marouf.
At the Rio Olympics, Iran crashed out of the playoffs against future finalists, the Italians. The team qualified for the upcoming games through a tough continental qualifier. In the finals, the Koreans were defeated 3-2.
Considering the fusion of the Iranian volleyball players and Alekno’s coaching genius, their team will fight for at least the semifinals of the Tokyo tournament with iron discipline.
Finally, the tournament hosts a Japanese team. Without a doubt, the home court advantage is the main factor in concluding that the initial underdog is capable of contending for the prizes. Yet, there are other objective reasons to expect the Japanese team to play well.
Firstly, Japan is one of the most decorated teams in the history of the Olympics. True, their major successes in this regard came in the 20th century.
Secondly, the Japanese have raised a pretty good generation that shines both in the homeland and in Europe. The main representatives of this generation are Yuji Nishida and Yuki Ishikawa.
Connoisseurs of the Japanese national team game remain delighted, above all, by the players’ ability to compensate for their relatively small average height with excellent technique and jumping ability.