Katowice (Poland) (AFP)

The Slovenian and Italian volleyball players will compete on Sunday evening (9 p.m.) for the European title in Katowice, after eliminating Poland, big favorite at home, and Serbia, defending champion but swept away by the recklessness of the young Nazionale.

The Slovenes will play their third final after their losses in 2015 against France and in 2019 against Serbia while Italy, around its excellent passer Simone Giannelli, will try to win a seventh continental title, the last coronation in a major championship already going back to 2005 (Euro), an eternity!

In Katowice, the more than 10,000 Polish spectators at the Spodek Arena probably did not expect their players to lose against the Slovenia of Alberto Giuliani, especially as the first round turned to the demonstration of Wilfredo Leon and Bartosz Kurek.

But the Slovenes, who had already blocked the road of the double reigning world champions (2014, 2018) in the semi-finals of Euro-2019, repeated the feat by reversing the meeting.

- Michieletto untenable -

Klemen Cebulj (17 points) and Toncek Stern (20 points) were the heroes of this meeting, which reached a peak of dramaturgy in the endless fourth set (57 minutes): at 29-28, the Slovenes thought they had won the match , but a video challenge saved the day for the Poles, due to a fault in the blocking thread.

Slovenian Toncek Stern scored 20 points in the Euro 2021 volleyball semi-final between Slovenia and Poland on Saturday September 18 in Katowice JANEK SKARZYNSKI AFP

However, it was only postponing the fatal outcome for the hosts, finally defeated in four sets (17-25, 32-30, 25-16, 37-35) on the 10th match point.

In the final, the Slovenes will face Italy, which arrived at this European Championship without its two aging stars Osmany Juantorena (36 years old, retired) and Ivan Zaytsev (32 years old, operation).

But the Nazionale can count on its young shoots, like Alessandro Michieletto, not yet 20 years old, and who confirms all his talent during this Euro, with 23 points on the clock in the semi-finals.

Eliminated in the quarter-finals by Argentina at the Tokyo Olympics, the Italians have not lost a single match in this Euro, and have already outclassed Slovenia in the 1st round in Ostrava in three dry heats (27-25, 25-20, 25-23).

A psychological advantage, even if the level of play of the Slovenes displayed in quarterfinals and halves is much higher than that proposed in the 1st round.

In the semi-finals of the Euro, Giannelli's teammates dominated the debates in the first two rounds and got off to a great start in the fourth round (5-0) on the services of their passer, a gap that Serbia, then led two innings to one, never managed to fill.

© 2021 AFP

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