If Day 1 was the day in which everything we thought we knew about the tournament was confirmed, then Day 2 was the day that reminded us that we actually knew nothing and / or that the absence of a dominant team makes for an unpredictable tournament.
Olympic Power Rankings – Day 2
1 (last position – 3) – Brazil. Their is a reason why Brazil have won so much over the last ten years. Actually there are many reasons. Against Russia, they showed them all: Quality, Passion, Competitiveness, Skill. I guess the gold medal really does go through them.
2 (1) – Russia. Wow. While it wasn’t surprising to see Brazil play so well, it was surprising to see Russia completely chanceless. I have never seen Mikhaylov play so badly and they didn’t seem to have any solutions when things didn’t go well. Muserskiy was great but he was the only one. They drop a spot, and on another day it could have been more.
3 (2) – Poland. When a team reduces risk in attack, it relies on its block / defence (plus attack errors) to win points. If the other team has a really good opposite, doesn’t give your block / defence a chance to play and doesn’t make errors then you sometimes you can’t win enough points. This game doesn’t make or break their tournament but they certainly won’t be happy that they have dropped a spot in the rankings.
4 (4) – Italy. It’s hard to take much from today’s performance. They weren’t really in trouble and yet could never put Argentina away. Lasko struggled and the form of Savani must be a concern. On the flip side, the middles Fei and Mastrangelo showed their enormous experience. They stay fourth for now but need a good showing against Bulgaria to climb higher before the quarters.
5 (5) – USA. Very, very solid performance against a German team that beat them at the World League finals just a couple of weeks ago. If there was a star performer, it was their serve. Anderson, Priddy and Stanley were all very strong from behind the baseline. They stay fifth only because Italy has played better teams until now. The Thursday’s game against Brazil could be a classic.
6 – USA Women – Okay, I don’t really think they would finish sixth in the men’s competition, but I’m pretty sure they are the best volleyball team in the Games, from any discipline. Great individuals, great team play, well prepared. Watch them.
6 (8) – Bulgaria. I don’t think anyone was really prepared for Bulgaria to beat Poland. After the summer they have had they are probably happy to be safely in the village and away from the pressures and turmoil of home. As I wrote before the Games, they still have decent players and today they proved it. Sokolov, especially, was more than decent, playing a really, really good game and leading his team from the front. When your opposite can score against a triple block, it gives the whole team so much confidence. Going up two places is no less than they deserve.
7 (6) – Serbia. Losing a set to Tunisia is not a great sign. But watch out for Uros Kovacevic and Aleksandar Atanasijevic who are both under 20 years old and are current world junior champions. They will be using this experience in 2016 and Tunisia will be watching on TV with pride saying ‘we took a set off those guys last time’. Unfortunately it is still 2012 and they drop a spot.
8 (7) – Argentina. Argentina led by De Cecco and Conte were enormously entertaining, but not very successful in losing to Italy. Great individual actions were followed by hideous errors followed by great actions, etc etc. They have to drop a spot in these rankings but should still make the quarter finals.
9 (9) – Germany. I am sure they would have expected a better performance today since the nerves of the first day were gone and they have had recent success against USA. Instead aside from the first set (again) they didn’t really seem to be able to get into the match. Grozer finished the match with three aces in a row, but that only made the score (more) respectable. Still interchangeable with Serbia. That match will be a cracker.