Star setter Simone Giannelli is one of the pillars of the Italian team

The 2024 edition of the Volleyball Nations League will be more important than any of the previous ones for the Italian men’s national team.

Still looking for their first medal in the tournament after five appearances, the Europeans also count on good results in the Preliminary Phase of the VNL 2024 to confirm their presence at the upcoming Paris Olympics. With two big goals in target, the reigning world champions will use their very best players from the start.

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Here’s your guide to the Italian men’s national team in the VNL 2024:

The background

Despite their enormous tradition in international volleyball, Italy are still looking for their first podium appearance in the VNL. The Europeans seem to be as close as ever to getting their first medals, though, as they finished fourth in the last two editions of the tournament, significantly improving from their first three attempts, as they ranked eighth in 2018 and 2019 and tenth in 2021.

The squad

The roster that gave Italy their fourth world title in 2022 continues to form the core of the Italian team, with 12 of the 14 players that won that title appearing in the country’s 30-player squad for the VNL 2024. The MVP of that tournament, setter Simone Giannelli is a key piece in the team’s playing system and a big leader for the Italians, being considered by many as the best player in the world in his position. Outside hitters Alessandro Michieletto and Daniele Lavia give them a lot of stability at outside hitter, while opposite Yuri Romanò has proved he can score in big matches. Libero Fabio Balaso and middle blocker Gianluca Galassi are also important players for the Italians.

Player to watch

The best setter of the 2021 U21 World Championship, Paolo Porro seems to be the next name in line in the long list of outstanding Italian setters. The 22-year-old setter got to appear in four matches of the Italian campaign in the VNL 2023 and had an excellent club season with Allianz Milano, helping the team finish third in the SuperLega Credem Banca, winning its first-ever medal in the tournament. While challenging Giannelli for the starting spot is probably not realistic at this point, Porro could very well fight Riccado Sbertoli for the backup role with his ability to give the team’s offense a new look.

The coach

The architect of the massive squad renovation that put Italy in a position to secure the world title in 2022, Ferdinando ‘Fefe’ De Giorgi is just in his fourth season with the team. With him at the helm, the Italians also won medals in two editions of the European Championship, taking gold in 2021 and silver in 2023. De Giorgi was involved in each of Italy’s four world titles, having played a role as the team’s setter in 1990, 1994 and 1998 during a playing career that also included five FIVB World League and on European title. Coaching clubs, De Giorgi has one world title, one Champions League gold medal and three Italian League trophies.


After taking Italy to the top of the world, De Giorgi now wants to get them to the Olympics

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The match schedule

Italy will be in Rio de Janeiro in the opening week of the VNL and will meet Germany in their opening match, on May 22. They will also play Iran, Japan and hosts Brazil during that week. On week two, the Italians will head north to Ottawa, Canada, where they’re set to play Olympic champions France, the United States, Cuba and the Netherlands. Back in Europe in the last week of the Preliminary Phase, they have matches scheduled against reigning VNL champions Poland, Bulgaria, hosts Slovenia and VNL rookies Türkiye in Ljubljana.

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