- The twelve-team Olympic men’s water polo tournament will begin July 25 at Japan’s Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.
- Team USA opens as a +8000 underdog in the tournament while Hungary is a slight +250 favorite.
- Check out the odds, analysis, and betting predictions below
Water polo will be an intriguing tournament this year even though Team USA is a distant underdog at +8000. The top six teams in the tournament can make a case to take home the gold medal from Tokyo.
The twelve-team Olympic water polo tournament will be played at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre, with host Japan scheduled to meet the United States in the first game of the tournament on July 24. The gold-medal game is scheduled for Saturday, August 7.
Olympic Men’s Water Polo Odds
|Team||Odds at DraftKings|
Odds as of July 23
The tournament will begin with round-robin play in two six-team pools. The four teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage, with seeding based on group play. The knockout round begins on Aug. 4. The gold and bronze medal games are scheduled for Aug. 8.
The United States can get into the knockout stage but would be a surprise to get much further. After that, it will be a fight between Hungary, Italy, and the Slavic countries for water supremacy.
Hungary Is a Very Slight Favorite to Win Gold
Hungary comes in as nine-time Olympic champions but has not won the gold medal since 2008 when they won the last of their three straight Olympic tournaments. Since then, the country finished fifth in 2012 and 2016.
The honest question is Hungary a slight favorite out of reputation, or have they earned it? Here is something interesting below.
All men’s Olympic gold medal winner since 2000 in water polo were born in the area. 🤽🏻♂️🤽🏻♂️ #waterpolo #olimpic #hungary #serbia #croatia #goldmedal #vizilabda #map @WaterpoloHu @WaterpoloAus @SerbianGov pic.twitter.com/OJkELTRB3N
— Daniel Orban (@DanielOrban12) April 6, 2021
Hungary is far from perfect, but they did win the 2016 Euro Championship and do rank fourth in the world currently. If any team can get up for an Olympic run, it is the Hungarians. They have the defense and transitional game to take on Croatia and Serbia. With the teams so closely matched, it comes down to whoever controls play best in that match. Hungary has shown that in more big moments than the other countries.
Men’s Water Polo Past Gold Medalists
Can Serbia Potentially Repeat?
Serbia found a way to win gold in Rio in 2016. In the last Olympics, the Serbians were the team one could see coming. They won the gold behind a physical defense and timely offense. It paved the way to a year where Serbia held all five major water polo championships at one time. That is rare.
The USA Men's Water Polo Team faced the giant basketball sized water polo players of Russia, Serbia and Croatia and were dominated by these huge centers. The USA just had little guys as centerguards. pic.twitter.com/5TKcY0Tr2p
— Dr. Jim Solum (@theshotdoctor) September 22, 2020
The Serbians are the “Spartans of the Slavic Nations” with their center back position as the key to their success in water polo. Every one of these players is 6 foot 4 or taller and well over 200 pounds. They are built to take an immense beating while able to fend off opponents and fire balls to the net.
One of the key things in their 2016 run was their three center backs helped combine for seven of the 11 goals in their gold-medal triumph over Croatia. They were also able to play enough defense to ward off an equally imposing Croatia frontcourt. This time, things might be different.
What About Croatia and Yes, Team USA?
Croatia is one of those scary wildcard teams that could easily dominate and win the tournament. In 2012, they won eight straight matches en route to the gold medal. They were barely challenged at times until the final two contests. Their strength on special teams and goaltending transition was too tough to overcome.
On the latest @WaterPoloTony podcast with co-host @DaveWComedy, Maro Jokovic joins the program to discuss the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, what makes Croatia a Water Polo powerhouse + the incredible 25-24 shoot out his team had vs Russia! Presented by @eBay: https://t.co/Xk94mfDVaA pic.twitter.com/oc8CmhJZKt
— Bleav Podcast Network (@BleavPodcasts) March 4, 2021
There is a reason why Croatia is a sneaky pick at +400. They are a team that could surprise Hungary and Serbia and have had success before.
Yes, there is Team USA, but at +8000, they still have problems down the middle. Their center backs are still often too small to handle the Slavic onslaught. Also, they are building towards improving but slowly. In a mild surprise, Croatia is our pick to upset Serbia and Hungary.
The Pick: Croatia (+400)