Italy wins rematch with US in men’s Olympic water polo

Tokyo — Francesco Difurbio and Italy have won the 2019 Men’s Water Polo World Championship and have established themselves as Olympic gold medal candidates. After that, a coronavirus pandemic occurred.

A year after the tournament was to be held, Difulbio sees a widespread tournament in Tokyo.

“We are on the same team. We play the same and play the same games,” he said. “But now, in Tokyo 2020, I think maybe 6 or 7 teams can win here. They will improve the game. We did the same. So I think there is a great game. . “

Italy played against the United States on Thursday with a dramatic 12-11 victory. Diflubio scored five times when the Italians jumped over Group A Americans with five points after a 6-6 draw with Greece on Tuesday.

Five years after Serbia won the gold medal as a world champion at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, no superpower stands on the field of 12 countries in Tokyo. Lots of possibilities.

“I’ve never seen a strong nine or eight teams that can win medals,” said Italian coach Alessandro Campagna. “That is, every match is a fight, every match.”

Italy-Player-Water Polo
Italy’s Pietro Figrioli (4) will shoot during the men’s water polo match in the qualifying round against the United States at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan on July 29, 2021. (Mark Humphrey / AP Photo)

The Campagna team is certainly one of those medal candidates. Italy wants the first Olympic title since 1992 and fourth place overall. He won silver in 2012 and bronze in Rio.

The United States finished 10th in Brazil, but gained momentum with a runner-up in this year’s World League Superfinals, including a 10-8 victory over Italy. After that, he won the first two games at the Olympic Games between Japan and South Africa.

The United States scored the first four goals against Italy, leading 11-9 with 5:22 remaining, with the aim of strengthening the potential berth position in the quarterfinals. But it didn’t hold up.

“I think we should win the match,” said US coach Deyan Udvic. “We got several times to finish the game, and we didn’t, and they punished us.”

Di Fulvio drew 11 with a 2:22 penalty shot, and Nicholas Presciu changed the rebound at 1:40 to win the match. The United States had a last chance in the last few seconds, but turned it over.

“In the end, I was strong, focused, and passionate about waiting for the right moment to move forward,” Campagna said.

Marko Vavic (3) of the United States will face Italy in the qualifying round men’s water polo match of the 2020 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo on July 29, 2021. (Mark Humphrey / AP Photo)

The United States still appears to be in a strong position to move forward, but will conclude the group play with a match against Hungary on Saturday and Greece on Monday.

“I think anyone can beat anyone when they reach the quarterfinals,” said US goalkeeper Drew Holland. “There are a lot of good teams, it’s the Olympics, and we’re at the heart of it. But again, build a group play stage and play the best water polo for a crossover. “

Croatia also won an important victory, beating Montenegro 13-8 with three goals from Loren Fatović. Croatia, who won the gold medal in 2012, lost to Australia 11-8 on Tuesday.

Croatia will face Serbia on Saturday in the rematch of the 2016 Rio finals.

“I analyzed my mistakes after my last match against Australia and played much better today,” said Croatian goalkeeper Marko Bijač. “We need to continue this way and strive to be even better in the next match.”

Hungary, Spain, Greece and Serbia also won. Hungary beat South Africa 23–1 without victory and Spain defeated Kazakhstan 16–4 to 3-0. Greece beat Japan 10-9 and Serbia beat Australia 14-8 in the last match of the day.

Jay Cohen

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