From August 26 through September 11, the world will be volleyball. Over a 17-day period, the 24 best teams on the planet will gather in Poland and Slovenia for the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship, and fans will get answers to their many questions as the competition unfolds.

· Watch all FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

1. Will Poland make it three in a row?

In the 1990s, Italy took three consecutive world titles. Right after that, Brazil won the first three editions of the World Championship to be held in the 21st century. If that pattern continues, it would mean Poland could follow suit and grab the 2022 crown. After winning in 2014 and 2018, the Poles have the opportunity to claim a third back-to-back World Championship gold. It is also an opportunity for Poland to be the first team after the Soviet Union to earn a fourth world title.

But other than the pattern, there are plenty of reasons to expect another great performance by the Polish team, which could well lead to another title. First, they have a great team. They demonstrated that recently during the Volleyball Nations League 2022, when they took bronze. 2018 World Championship MVP Bartosz Kurek showed the great shape he is still in, and was backed up by a solid line-up of established and rising stars always ready to play at a high level. One proviso is that Poland will play without Wilfredo Leon, who was not able to recover from surgery to a knee in time for the competition.

Second, and by virtue of the FIVB World Ranking, Poland are the number one team on the planet. They weren’t when they won their previous world titles. In fact, despite being the world champions for almost eight years now, they have just recently, during VNL 2022, climbed to the top of the chart for the first time in history.

Third, just like in 2014, Poland will have home court advantage on their side. It’s no secret how inspiring Polish fans can be, and they are sure to fill up the stands in Gliwice and Katowice.

2. Will France win their third consecutive world-level competition?

France are clearly another top candidate to triumph at Poland-Slovenia 2022. By winning their first Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 last summer, and backing it up with their first VNL title earlier this summer, the team showed depth and consistency, founded on a constellation of amazing talent and led by Earvin Ngapeth, who earned the MVP awards at both competitions.

In a matter of days, we will find out if Ngapeth and his teammates are up for another historic feat, France’s first-ever World Championship title.


Ngapeth shows the way for France

Before 1990, it was quite a frequent occurrence to have the same team reign simultaneously as world and Olympic champions, but it has only happened once over the last 32 years, when Brazil held both titles for the period between 2004 and 2008.

3. Will Slovenia finally capitalise on their great generation of players at the world level?

Slovenia is a young and small European country of about two million people and certainly not among the traditional volleyball powers of the world. However, they have shown solid growth for the past 10 years, when an amazing generation of players have taken their national team to new and unexpected heights.

Even after claiming their first European League bronze medals in 2011 and 2014, and gold in 2015, no one expected the Slovenians to reach the final of the 2015 CEV European Championship. And even if someone at the time thought it was a lucky one-off success, they were soon refuted as Slovenia also claimed silver at EuroVolley 2019 and 2021. Their captain Tine Urnaut, who made the EuroVolley 2015 Dream Team, 2019 Dream Teamers Jan Kozamernik and Jani Kovacic, and the best setter of EuroVolley 2021 Gregor Ropret are just some of the members of this phenomenal Slovenian generation, which has recently been reinforced by 20-year-old scoring machine Rok Mozic.


Slovenia’s Klemen Cebulj in action

However, this generation has yet to shine in full brightness at the world level. In 2018, Slovenia made their rookie World Championship appearance and finished 12th. The following year, they won the FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup and earned the right to play in the VNL. Last year they made the most of that opportunity to progress to the semifinals, but finished fourth, just short of the podium. Slovenia did not advance to the VNL Finals this year, but perhaps it was because they were saving energy for the big one. They grabbed the opportunity to co-host the 2022 World Championship for the first time, showing a clear intent to go all in for their first medal from a major world-level competition.

4. Will rookies Qatar snatch their first World Championship win?

The Qatari national team will represent another small nation, with a population of under three million. As the only World Championship rookies at Poland-Slovenia 2022, they are bound to attract the fans’ attention during the tournament, especially since they come from a country that has been investing a lot into developing its sports and has recently claimed its first Olympic gold medals, at Tokyo 2020, along with its first bronze in beach volleyball.

The upcoming World Championship will be a rare opportunity for the global volleyball audience to enjoy this team’s performances at a major world-level competition. When they appeared at the last two editions of the FIVB Volleyball World League in 2016 and 2017, Qatar won as many as six of their 12 matches, defeating the likes of Greece (three times), Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Tunisia. In 2018, they claimed their first major international medal, gold at the AVC Asian Cup, after beating Iran in the final and Japan in the semifinal.

So Qatar’s ambition to write another important page in their volleyball history by claiming their first World Championship win does not seem that far-fetched even when the teams of Japan, Cuba and Brazil are the three opponents in the pool.

5. Who will lead the ace party at Poland-Slovenia 2022?

Scoring a point directly from the serving line is one of the most attractive actions in volleyball and always raises the fans to their feet. Of course, to be a great server requires a lot of talent, but putting away a beautiful ace is often assisted by luck, and that certainly adds to the excitement of identifying the top server at this year's World Championship.

Dutch opposite Nimir Abdel-Aziz is the clear number one candidate. He has claimed the best server title at many competitions in his career, most recently at the last two editions of the VNL, the 2022 CEV Cup, the 2021 Champions League, the 2021 and 2020 Italian League and EuroVolley 2019...


Nimir on the serve

However, at Poland-Slovenia 2022, he is likely to have plenty of competition in that department. At least two members of the Japanese team, Yuji Nishida and Yuki Ishikawa have proven their prowess for scoring from the serving line. USA’s Aaron Russell, Poland’s Mateusz Bieniek and Bartosz Kurek, as well as France’s Antoine Brizard also tallied plenty of aces during VNL 2022. And who knows, maybe one of the excellent servers expected to return to their national teams after skipping the VNL, like USA’s Matthew Anderson, Brazil’s Wallace De Souza, Serbia’s Marko Ivovic or Bulgaria’s Todor Skrimov, will lead the ace party at the upcoming World Championship...