07.07-16.07.2023 - U21 WCH
19.07-30.07.2023 - U17 ECH
04.08-13.08.2023 - U19 WCH
I've decided to make a combined thread because I don't think it will get here THAT big of an interest, yet it should get some.
We'll start with U21 WCH and:
- the 'defending' (in U19) champion Poland with the best team possible (Kubicki, Hawryluk and & Co. strengthen with naturalized Belarusian OPP Aleksei Nasevich): perhaps the team to beat out htere,
- the U19 runner-up Bulgaria with Aleksander Nikolov, but without his 3y-younger brother Simeon due to injury (what's sad, he's a real talent, it's rare to see that great talent of a setter from the Balkans), and they actually quite bad recently besides Alex,
- bronze-medalists from U19 WCH Iran, who did play really well in warmup games from what I've seen, but their best player is with senior NT apparently, so he won't participate,
- the U18 and U20 ECH champion Italy without their star OH (Luca Porro), but still with couple of interesting players (Bovolenta, Laurenzano, Orioli, theoretically also Boninfante, but I'm not a fan),
- really interesting generation for the United States with Andrew Rowan, who in my eyes will be one of the best setters in the world sooner than later, Zach Rama (he's a freak, you'll see) and Shane Wetzel, who looks like an interesting talent on opposite position that the US badly needs - I don't think they'll win a medal (who knows), because they're probably not as polished as those European teams, but definitely a team to follow,
- I don't know if they're medal-level good, but Brazil has become watchable with all those tall guys like Arthur, Samuel or Maicon (whom I saw playing in a weird system of being MB in a first line and OH in the second line on defense, haha) all developed,
- Argentina is nothing spectacular actually and I saw Poland winning some friendlies in rather comfortable manner, but they were 5th at the U19 WCH, so maybe they'll show something interesting
- I don't know if Belgium will play with Ferre Reggers, but if they do then they won't win a medal here but maybe cause some upsets.
My first bet would've been Italy, but there is no Porro and although they have still a really capable roster with Orioli making strides in development in Ravenna, I'm actually way more interested in their U19 team next month in Argentina.
I'd say Poland is then a favorite, because while we don't have all-round/pro-level talents (maybe Nasevich will change it) among spikers, in terms of setter, MBs and libero we'll easily the best team out there.
Then it's close with Bulgaria (Nikolov, who's individually the best, but without him Bulgaria was crushed couple of times by Porro-less Italy), Iran, Brazil, Belgium, Argentina and Belgium to less degree (if Reggers is there, but he's a leader of senior NT already, so I don't know).