Turin, Italy, September 29, 2018 - It maybe won't be quite the same without Italy and the energy and passion the hosts inspired the huge crowds with, but Brazil meet Serbia and USA clash with Poland in the semifinals, as the 2018 FIVB Men's World Championship comes down to its last two thrilling days of action with the medals round here in the capital of Piedmont region.
Rio 2016 Olympic champions Brazil aim for their fifth straight and sixth overall final in the history of the competition, in a bid to stay on track for a fourth world title after their three consecutive crowns in 2002, 2006 and 2010. They just barely missed out on the gold medal last time around, when they lost to then hosts Poland in the final of the 2014 edition in Katowice.
Serbia aim to get Brazil in the semifinals and advance to their second ever World Championship final for the first time since 1998.
Brazil have actually lost just one match thus far in the 2018 World Championship - and that was back in Round 1, when they fell in four sets to the Netherlands in Ruse, Bulgaria.
Serbia, on the other hand, had made it to three straight Final Fours from 1998 to 2006 (as Serbia & Montenegro) and in 2010 (as Serbia) before missing out last time around in 2014. However, they've only made it out of the semifinals twice, when they picked up a silver medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2010.
The Balkan side have suffered three defeats so far in the 2018 World Championship, going down in five to USA in their opening match in Bari, before losing twice in straight sets to Poland in Round 2 in Bari and in Round 3 here in Turin.
USA look to knock out defending champions Poland and make their second ever final of a World Championship, 32 years after their last appearance.
Later in the day, at the sold-out Pala Alpitour, a hub of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games, Polnd will continue the defence of their 2014 title when they take on USA.
Poland have been in the top four of a World Championship already four times. They just missed out on bronze in 1956 and 1960 before winning the title in 1974, back when the competition was round-robin. The only time Poland were in an actual semifinal was four years ago when they hosted the tournament and beat Germany in four sets before going on to overwhelm Brazil in the final.
After finishing Round 1 undefeated this year, Poland lost twice in succession, 3-2 to Argentina and 3-1 to France in Round 2 in Varna - their only two defeats thus far in the competition.
USA are in the Final Four for only the thrid time in the history of the competition. They played semifinals in 1986, knocking out Brazil in straight sets before dethroning the USSR in the final at Paris' Bercy. Then, in 1994, the Americans fell to the Netherlands 3-2 in the semifinals, but bounced back to beat Cuba 3-1 for bronze in Piraeus.
The Americans were the only undefeated side at the World Championship until they suffered their first loss on Friday evening to Brazil, on the last day of Round 3 pool play, when they fielded a backup lineup and lost promptly 3-0 to Brazil in a match of no significance.
Quick links - Volleyball:
FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Italy-Bulgaria 2018
Results and ranking