The 2021 continental champions of Europe and South America will go head to head in one of the highlights on Saturday’s Volleyball Nations League 2022 programme. The women’s national teams of Italy and Brazil will take to the court at 15:00 local time (18:00 GMT) in Brasilia in their roles among the favourites to progress to the VNL Finals in Ankara next month.

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

So far in the competition, Brazil have played six matches, won five of them and taken the fourth place in the current standings with 15 points. Italy have also piled up five wins in seven matches played, standing sixth on 14 points.

It will be the fourth time Italy and Brazil meet in the VNL. The Europeans won their first encounter back in 2018 by a hard-earned 3-2 (22-25, 25-20, 17-25, 25-19, 15-12). In 2019, Brazil hammered out a 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-23) shutout. On June 2, 2021, they met on Italian soil in Rimini and the South Americans managed to win again after coming back from a set down to claim a 3-1 (19-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19) victory. A great difference in that match was made by middle Ana Carolina Da Silva, who contributed five kill blocks and a total of 14 points to Brazil’s success. She is the current best blockers leader in the chart for VNL 2022 with 32 stuffs to her name. Outside hitter Rosamaria Montibeller, who led the Brazilian scorers to that 2021 win with 17 points, is again available to coach Ze Roberto in the group of players in Brasilia.

Brazil went on to win the 2021 silver, their second in the VNL, after winning 14 of their 17 matches of the tournament. Italy stood 12th on a 4-11 win-loss record. At the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Brazil celebrated with another silver, while Italy were stopped at the quarterfinals. Later in the season, both teams went back to their continents to claim their respective continental titles. Brazil snatched the South American Championship trophy, while Italy triumphed at EuroVolley.

The Most Valuable Players of those two tournaments, Brazilian outside Gabriela Guimaraes and Italian opposite Paola Egonu, will have another opportunity to lock horns across the net after doing so on a couple of occasions at the highest level during the club season, in the trophy matches of both the FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship and the CEV Champions League, with Gabi’s Turkish team VakifBank Istanbul celebrating victorious over Egonu’s Italian club Prosecco Doc Imoco Volley Conegliano on both occasions.

In addition to Gabi, Carol and Rosamaria, this week’s Brazilian squad features another three players from their Olympic silver line-up – outside Ana Cristina de Souza and setters Macris Carneiro and Roberta Ratzke.


Coach Davide Mazzanti’s Italian team for this week’s VNL games in the Brazilian capital includes Egonu and another seven EuroVolley gold medallists - setter Ofelia Malinov, opposite Sylvia Nwakalor, outside hitter and captain Miryam Sylla, middles Cristina Chirichella, Anna Danesi and Sara Bonifacio, and libero Monica De Gennaro.

The game with Brazil will be Italy’s last match in Brasilia this week. In two weeks, the European champions will travel to Sofia for their last four fixtures of the Preliminary Round. Before making that trip to Bulgaria, Brazil have one more match to play at home, against Serbia on Sunday.

Saturday’s schedule in the Brazilian capital will continue with games between Germany and Türkiye and between the Netherlands and Korea. The competition day in the other pool taking place in Quezon City has already started with Bulgaria defeating Canada in straight sets. Belgium will take on Poland next. Then USA and China will lock horns in a titanic duel.