Blengini taking nothing for granted after Olympic pool draw


Lausanne, Switzerland, February 6, 2020 – Italy coach Gianlorenzo Blengini has dismissed claims that Italy are in the easier group for the opening stage of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 volleyball competition. 

At the end of January, the two Olympic pools were confirmed with Italy placed in Pool A with hosts Japan, 2014 and 2018 world champions Poland, Canada, reigning Asian champions Iran, and Venezuela. 

Pool B features defending Olympic champions Brazil, 2018 and 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League winners Russia, Rio de Janeiro 2016 bronze medallists USA, France, Argentina and Tunisia.

Read more: Pools confirmed for Tokyo 2020 Olympic volleyball tournament

“Our pool may seem easier, but there is always the possibility of teams causing upsets,” Blengini told RAI Radio 1’s Sport Show. “We must be at our best from the start so that we can reach the quarterfinals. 

“It seems good for us, but there are always upsets in sport which is why we love it. We must approach the pool matches in the correct state of mind, because there are no guaranteed results.”

Italy qualified for Tokyo 2020 by winning Pool C of the FIVB Tokyo Volleyball Qualification Tournament that they hosted in Bari in August 2019. 

Matches will take place in the Ariake Arena, a 15,000-capacity waterside venue and run from 25 July to 9 August. 

After playing each other once four teams advance from the pool to the quarterfinals. From there it is direct elimination until the gold medal winners are determined.  

Italy’s men have a proud tradition of finishing on the Olympic podium and they won silver at Rio de Janeiro 2016 and bronze at London 2012. However, they have yet to win gold. 

“At the Olympics the most important matches are the quarterfinals,” Blengini said. “They are the first matches featuring direct elimination and if you make it through then you are two matches away from being Olympic champions. I’d say that is the first objective of all the top teams. 

“At Rio 2016 we were focused on finishing first in our pool because we knew if we did, we believed we could go far in the competition. 

“In London it was totally different, and we only squeezed through to the quarterfinals where we beat the USA and then left with the bronze medal. There are different ways to be in contention for a medal.” 

Italy celebrate as they qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in front of their fans in Bari.

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