Our questions - related to the teams fighting for medals- will be answered on the fifth day of men’s water polo at the 17th FINA World Championships.
The day of men’s quarterfinals starts with placement games – just like women’s tournament on Monday – and it might be a surprise, but Canada will have to jump into the pool right in the first game. The team led by Giuseppe Porzio must have expected more of this World Championships than to play for the 15th place against South Africa.
Canada started the Championships well, they stole a point from Montenegro, who ended up winning the group. They followed this up with three straight losses, two in the group stage and one against France in the placement games. South Africa went down against the USA in the first match of placement games, and Canada seems to be the favourite against South Africa including a couple of veteran, experienced players, who might be playing in their last games.
Quite surprisingly France almost caught Australia in the group stage, they improved a lot in these few days, but they will be playing for 13th place against the USA. They seem to be the favourites, while the young USA team can jump into the pool without too much pressure.
Japan – who beat the USA by eight – plays against Brazil in the first round of placement games for 9th-12th places. On the other hand, Kazakhstan faces Spain. Kazakhstan advanced to the playoffs for the first time in their history after beating Canada, but they will have a tough matchup against Spain, despite Spain’s disappointment after the loss from Russia, which meant saying goodbye to the quarter-finals.
Speaking of the quarter-finals, they begin in the afternoon. First, the mixed team – meaning a couple of young and a couple of experienced guys – of Montenegro plays against previous World Championships bronze medallist Greece in Hajós Alfréd Complex. A win by the European Championship’s runner-up Montenegro might be a surprise, but the strength of Greece is difficult to measure after the preliminary rounds.
The most lopsided game might be the Serbia-Australia match, where the European-, World- and Olympic champion Serbia should advance easily. Australia will probably end the Championships this time with a realistic result after beating France in the previous round.
Host team Hungary is in good shape, according to head coach Tamás Märcz, after they were able to advance to the first place with three days of rest after the 9-9 tie with Italy. The big question is if they will be able to jumpstart their engines against Russia, who is a surprise opponent. They will be a tough matchup as they should play without any pressure and they have a squad with physically gifted players who have great stamina. Nonetheless, Hungary is the favourite.
In the late evening comes the clash between Italy and Croatia, which should be the most exciting match of the day, because either the Olympic runner-up or the Olympic bronze medallist will fall out of contention for medals at this World Championships edition.
July 25, Tuesday
For 15th place
09:30 – Canada-South Africa
For 13th place
10:50 – France-USA
For 9th-12th place
12:10 - Brazil-Japan
13:30 – Kazakhstan-Spain
14:50 – Montenegro-Greece
16:10 – Serbia-Australia
20:30 – Hungary-Russia
22:00 – Croatia-Italy