Italy host top 3 as race for Men's VNL Final Six gets intense
Italy host the top three of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League - France, USA and Russia - this weekend in Modena, in their desperate bid to to find someone to overtake for a ticket to the Final Six.
Though in theory everything is open, USA and Russia are pretty much there. The Americans in Modena actually need only one point to claim their berth in Lille and the reigning European champions in Melbourne two points to make it through without having to count on any other team's results.
But that leaves three more berths to be filled over the last weekend of pool play, with such powerhouses of world volleyball as reigning Olympic champions Brazil, reigning world champions Poland and Rio 2016 silver medallists Italy all in very real danger of crashing out of the competition.
And with Brazil, Poland and Serbia all tied at 8-4, Italy at 7-5 will need to step up their game and hope someone else stumbles, if they're to make it to Lille.
Canada and Japan at 6-6 and even Germany, Australia and Bulgaria at 5-7 are theoretically in with a chance, but it does remain a long shot for any of them.
These are the pools for this week:
• Pool 17 in Melbourne: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Poland.
• Pool 18 in Jiangmen: China, Canada, Japan, Serbia.
• Pool 19 in Tehran: Iran, Bulgaria, Germany, Korea.
• Pool 20 in Modena: Italy, France, Russia, USA.
Check out the full schedule of Week 5 here.
And here's what to watch out for this week:
• The top two teams in the standings, France and USA, as they go head-to-head on Friday to open this last weekend.
• The whole of Pool 20 in Modena, which brings together the top three teams in the table, together with hosts Italy who still chase a qualifying position.
• The return of Ivan Zaytsev to action in Italy's desperate last-minute attempt to find someone to overtake for a ticket to the Final Six.
• Brazil's quest for two full-point wins in Melbourne to make sure they don't depend on anyone else to make it through to the Final Six.
• China's Jiang Chuan as he tries to continue bringing in the points to finish top scorer of the preliminary round of the VNL. He currently leads the scorers on 217 points, ahead of Brazil's Wallace De Souza who has 192.
Quick links: FIVB Volleyball Nations League
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