During the London Olympics, I did a daily ‘Power Rankings’ after each round of matches. In the absence of any better ideas, I thought I would do the same again. So without further ado, let’s see how the teams are doing after the second day of matches. Bear in mind that I don’t watch every match.
MEN’S OLYMPIC VOLLEYBALL POWER RANKINGS DAY 2
current rank 1 (last rank 1) BRAZIL – Nothing to see here. Still favourites.
2 (2) POLAND – Against Iran they were tested; physically, technically, emotionally and even at the press conference. They escaped by the skin of their teeth. If that. But winners are grinners. Just a reminder, Poland became World Champions by playing a lot of five set matches and winning them all. They hang on to second in our rankings.
3 (3) ITALY – There was only a tiny chance that they would play as well as they did against France, which proved to be the case. They did however still play well against a US team fighting for their lives. At this point they are a clear medal favourite.
4 (7) ARGENTINA – What we learnt today was that maybe Iran is not so bad, and maybe Argentina is great. That is the great thing about sport, all the maybes. Winning without Conte top scoring would have been the icing on the cake of beating Russia. Winning so clearly would give them the feeling they could top the group, which would give them a real shot at the semi finals.
5 (5) FRANCE – We didn’t learn anything new today so they can’t move in our rankings. Perhaps it was noteworthy that the coach made zero changes despite the match being the opposite of close. Giving the starters an opportunity to regain their cohesion?
6 (6) CANADA – I didn’t see the match, but winning a set seems to suggest that they played well. But nothing to move them in our rankings.
7 (4) RUSSIA – They switch places with Argentina after today’s loss. Apart from a second set improvement inspired by second setter Kobzar, they are still struggling. (Insert your favourite doping related joke here). It was interesting that after coming off Grankin and Mikhaylov stayed off for the whole match. The do not seem to have a fixed best lineup and haven’t since winning European Championships in 2013. It is hard to see them make the big improvement they will need to to be playing for a medal.
8 (8) IRAN – They were definitely not nervous in their second every Olympic match and arguably they won the trash talk battle with Marouf’s performance in the press conference. But while they showed a big improvement from their first match they still didn’t win and needed a mental lapse from Poland to even go to a fifth. I am pretty excited for the match against Russia.
9 (9) USA – USA came out much better than against Canada but were still not quite at the level of Italy. Every match from now on becomes more and more important in their quest for a quarter final spot. It is not looking good.
10-12 (10-12) – Egypt (10/12) won their first ever Olympic match against Cuba’s (12/11) best high school team. Mexico (11/10) drop a spot after being crushed by France. No humiliation there, but no love from our rankings.
Day 1 rankings here.
See you tomorrow.