Italy vie for European glory, take on co-hosts Poland in Pool B
After qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games earlier this month, Italy are vying for further success at the CEV EuroVolley 2019 Women, with their journey in the continental showpiece event starting at the iconic Atlas Arena in Lodz. The ‘Azzurre’ will be playing there EuroVolley co-hosts Poland, as well as the national teams of Belgium, Portugal, Slovenia and Ukraine. The event is a truly special one for Portugal, who celebrate their maiden EuroVolley appearance in Lodz and will be playing their first match at this level against Italy. Below you can find the most important facts to know about the teams playing in Pool B, with the top four sides progressing to the elimination phase where they will be crossing ways with those competing in Pool D in Bratislava, Slovakia.
• Two teams in Pool B have previously won the European Championship - Italy (2007, 2009) and Poland (2003, 2005).
• Italy and Poland are hoping to become the third country to win the European Championship at least three times, after Russia (19, incl. 13 as Soviet Union).
· Poland finished on the European Championship podium on 11 occasions, joint-second most alongside Germany (incl. 7 as East Germany). Poland recorded their last podium finish in 2009 (3rd).
· Poland won 113 matches at the European Championship, third-most behind Russia (179, incl. 111 as Soviet Union, 68 as Russia) and Germany (139, incl. 59 as East Germany, 49 as Germany, 31 as West Germany).
· Poland are unbeaten against Belgium (W6-L0) and Slovenia (W1-L0) at the European Championship. They have a W7-L7 record against Italy and a W2-L2 record versus Ukraine.
· Italy did not reach the podium at the European Championship since winning the title in 2007 and 2009. Italy finished fourth in 2011, sixth in 2013, seventh in 2015 and fifth in 2017.
· Italy were eliminated in the quarterfinals at each of the last three European Championships. They lost to Serbia in 2013, to Russia in 2015 and to Netherlands in 2017.
· Italy won 10 of their last 12 European Championship matches against the other teams in Pool B. Their only defeats in this run came against Poland (3-1) in the 2005 final and versus Belgium (3-1) in the 2013 group stage.
· Italy defeated Belgium in straight sets in the world Olympic qualification tournament on 3 August. Italy ended up winning an Olympic ticket that tournament.
· Belgium are the team in Pool B to have most recently reached the podium at the European Championship, third in 2013.
· Belgium's only win in their previous European Championship matches against the other teams in Pool B is a 3-1 win over Italy in the 2013 group stage.
· Belgium defeated Italy 3-2 in the 2019 Volleyball Nations League, but suffered a 3-0 defeat against them in the world Olympic qualification tournament on 3 August. They also lost 3-1 to Poland in the 2019 VNL.
· Ukraine compete for the eighth time at the European Championship. Their best result is a third place in their first appearance in 1993.
· Of the teams in Pool B, Ukraine previously only met Poland and Italy at the European Championship. They have a W2-L2 record against Poland and a W1-L4 record against Italy.
· Ukraine are one a seven-match losing run at the European Championship, since defeating Czech Republic 3-2 in the 2003 group stage.
· Slovenia appear at the European Championship for the second time after 2015, when they finished in 16th place.
· Slovenia lost all three of their matches at the 2015 European Championship: 3-0 to Netherlands, 3-1 to Italy and 3-0 to Poland.
· Portugal will make their debut at the European Championship. The last teams to win their first match on their debut at a European Championship were Croatia, Belarus and Ukraine, all in 1993.