As happened two years ago, Portugal reached the round of 16 of the European Volleyball Championship, and this time was eliminated by Ukraine 3-0 (20-25, 19-25 and 22-25). In Varna, Bulgaria, the national team rarely had an answer against a very strong blocking Ukraine, were more consistent on serve, and only in the final set did they come close to winning at least a game. The Ukrainians will now face one of the favourites, Slovenia, in the ‘quarter-finals’, and Portugal can take solace in the fact that it has fulfilled its ‘duty’ of at least equaling its performance at EuroVolley 2021.
After concluding the group stage with an impressive victory over Turkey (3-2), Joao Jose’s men faced Ukraine, which showed some weaknesses in the group stage (defeats to Slovenia, Croatia and Bulgaria). But the national team was unable to carry this good momentum into the knockout stage. They had some balancing moments during the match, but the Ukrainians always managed to impose their advantage.
The first set was tied at 5-5. The first minutes were full of good feelings, strong serving, good defense and attack (Ivo Casas, as we already know, is a world-class libero), but they were fleeting. Some predictability in Miguel Tavares’ distribution means that the Ukrainian bloc has always been in a good position. The advantage soon reached 10-18. When Portugal returned serve, Alexander Ferreira succeeded in canceling out much of that lead (16-18), but Ukraine ended up tied 20-25.
The second set was balanced for a longer period, with Portugal taking an early two-point lead at 3-1 (the only time this happened in the entire match), but it ended up going in the same direction as the first set. It was even at 13-13, but Ukraine ran away on the scoreboard again and closed at 19-25.
With everything on the line in Group C, Portugal was finally able to battle it out. Lourenço Martins was important in leading the Portuguese team to discuss the partial. The score was 20-22 and then 22-24, but Ukraine managed to reduce the gap with the second ball of play.
Statistics show that Ukraine won the match: more direct serves (6/3), more points in blocks (9/5), fewer errors in reception (3/6) and in attack (4/10). As happened in all of the Portuguese team’s matches, Alexandre Ferreira was the top scorer with 16 goals, followed by Lourenço Martins (12). Oleg Plotnitsky, against Perugia, scored 15 points, and Ilya Kovalov, fourth district for Barkum, scored 11 points.
Despite the elimination in the round of 16, Portugal still performed well in the EuroVolley tournament organized by Italy, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Israel. In the first major competition with a new coach, João José, minimal goals were achieved (doing the same as in 2021), but with more victories in the group stage (three) and a better position of the “eighth” (second place). , directly behind France).
In this seventh (third consecutive) participation in the final stages of the EuroVolley tournament, Portugal will be above the 2021 position (15th place), never falling below 14th place, and the final classification depends on the outcome of the matches still to be played. These are “prices”. The best classification is still the 1948 European Championship, where it ranked fourth among six participating teams.
In this EuroVolley game, several quarter-final pairings have already been decided. Before the match between Portugal and Ukraine, it was known in advance that Slovenia, the European runner-up, would be the opponent, after a difficult victory over Turkey 3-2 (20-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23 and 15-15). 13).
On Friday, other “quadrant” duels have already been scheduled. France, which beat Bulgaria 3-0, will face Romania, which ousted Croatia (3-0). Italy also qualified with an easy victory over North Macedonia 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-15) and will face the winner of the Netherlands-Germany match.
The rest of the qualifiers for the matches between Poland, Belgium, Serbia and the Czech Republic will be determined on Sunday.
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