The FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship will feature some of the most exciting matches of the 2022 international season and among them will be some of the biggest rivalries in the sport.
Five rivalries to look out for
Make sure you are watching on Volleyball TV when these teams clash
Published 07:00, 23 Aug 2022
The backstory to these five matchups is a long one!
Poland vs. Brazil
Matches between Poles and Brazilians are always intense, especially at a World Championship. The two teams have played each other in three of the last four gold medal matches, with the South Americans winning in 2006 and the Europeans triumphing in back-to-back editions in 2014 and 2018. The sides met in another final just a year ago, when the Brazilians topped their rivals to win the 2021 Volleyball Nations League. The Polish got a form of revenge at this year’s edition of the VNL, when they knocked Brazil out of the top spot in the FIVB World Rankings for the first time in two decades. Expect their rivalry to extend to this year's World Championship and beyond.
France vs. USA
We should probably say this is a rivalry in the making, but one which has the potential to become a pretty fiery one. France and the United States have both claimed remarkable victories over the last 15 years, and are both among the absolute elite of the sport. The first time they met with a gold medal on the line, however, was at this year’s VNL, in a spectacular final. The Europeans won a fantastic five-set match highlighted by some memorable exchanges at the net between French star Earvin Ngapeth and American setter Micah Christenson. Expect more duels of this type as the French play to solidify their place at the top of world volleyball, and as the Americans attempt to wrestle that position from them.
Serbia vs. Italy
A European rivalry with roots extending back to the second half of the 1990s, a clash between these two teams is always one to look out for. Encounters between the two sides included the final of the 1998 World Championship (won by Italy), the Olympic semifinals in 1996 and 2000 (with split victories) and the gold medal match of the 2001 European Championship (won by FR Yugoslavia). These sorts of duels have become less frequent at the highest level of international volleyball over the last decade, but remain a special occasion.
Japan vs. Iran
When regional rivalries are transported to a bigger, more global stage, they tend to become even more relevant and interesting. That’s what we expect to see if Japan and Iran get to play each other at the World Championships. The two teams have been the most successful in Asia over the last 15 years, combining to win all seven editions of the Asian Championship and the last three Asian Games held in the period. They met in five of those finals, with Japan triumphing at the 2010 Asian Games and the 2009 and 2015 Asian Championships, while Iran emerged victorious in the 2014 Asian Games and last year’s Asian Championship. A duel between these two teams also provides a battle of styles. While the Japanese are technical and fast, the Iranians have more power and energy on the court.
Tunisia vs. Egypt
Africa is yet to earn a medal at a Men's World Championship, but if Tunisia and Egypt get to play each other, it will be a game to watch. It’s only a regional rivalry at this point, but Tunisians and Egyptians have been extremely dominant at the continental level, combining to win 13 of the 14 editions of the African Championship played since 1995. They also met in the gold medal match eight times during that period. And they have also been the only countries to represent Africa at the Olympics since 1996, alternating appearances and meeting in the deciding match of the Olympic qualifier as many as five times.