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.
Day 4 was a cracker of a day. Still more surprises and overall teams behaving as though they aren’t paying the tiniest bit of attention to our Power Rankings! Actually that is not so much of a surprise. But anyway, let’s see how the teams are doing after the fourth day of matches. Bear in mind that I don’t watch every match.
MEN’S OLYMPIC VOLLEYBALL POWER RANKINGS DAY 4
1 (1) ITALY – They have rediscovered their identity, discovered a setter who will lead them for the next 15 years and beaten all three of the main gold medal favourites in the their pool fairly comfortably in the end. As of today, the gold medal goes through Italy.
2 (8) USA – By beating France for their second big win in a row, USA make the biggest jump in the history of the Power Rankings. When their serving is good, as it has been in their previous two matches, they are very, very tough to control. The third set yesterday does show a glimpse of what can happen if their serving goes off the boil. But for now, it isn’t.
3 (2) POLAND – I watched Kurek play about 25 times last season. He almost single handedly kept his team in contention for the title, while being by far the best opposite in the league. Even by those standards last night’s performance was outstanding. He played just about as well as an opposite can play. Sometimes even 36 points doesn’t tell the story adequately although without Kubiak it wasn’t enough against a Russia playing for their tournament. They will have a slightly tougher quarter final now, but I doubt they will be distraught. Especially seeing as they are still in a medal position in our rankings.
4 (5) ARGENTINA – They did nothing but take care of business yesterday but still climb one position on the basis of the performances (even more than the results) of other teams.
5 (6) RUSSIA – Watching Tetyukhin playing his sixth Olympics is one of life’s little pleasures. He is no longer (nor was he ever really) the best player in the world but he remains a very, very good player. He made a diving defensive action early in the match that put most of his ‘young enough to be my son’ teammates to shame. And with a throwback performance from Mikhaylov, they aren’t actually in a terrible spot.
6 (4) BRAZIL – In the second match in which they were tested, Brazil failed again. Despite the support of the crowd and a good start against an over aroused Giannelli, they couldn’t handle the increasing pressure of Italy’s block and defence. Now they have to win their last match just to qualify for the quarter finals. If they missed out, it would be the biggest shock in Olympic volleyball history.
7 (4) FRANCE – Against the USA they showed both the best and worst sides of the their play, but surprisingly the element that cost them victory was reception. Without consistent control of the first contact they will always struggle a little. Even more than other teams their reception is the platform (pun intended) of their game. Their best, as they showed in patches of the first and fourth and in the third is not so far below the surface but they will need all of it to beat Brazil in a lose or go home match. Who would have thought…
8 (7) IRAN – I tipped Egypt to win a set in our office pool. At 26-26 in the first I thought I was the smartest guy in the room. It turns out I’m not. Let that be a lesson to all those reading these Power Rankings seriously.
9 (9) CANADA – A win against Italy will put them in the quarter finals for sure. Two sets might be enough. Watch this space…
10-12 (10-12) – Egypt (10/10) Mexico (11/11) Cuba (12/12) I have no reason for those other than yesterday’s rankings.
For conspiracy theorists…
Italy is guaranteed to finish first in the group. If they were to lose, either one of the pre tournament favourites will miss the quarter finals. Leaving one less top team to beat for everyone.
We will have a lot to talk about this time tomorrow.