The semi-final line-up for the men’s competitions at the ICF Canoe Polo World Championships has been decided, while one round remains in the women’s draw heading into the final day in St-Omer.

Germany will play Great Britain in one men’s semi-final, while Spain will take on Italy in the second match. The big shock in the men’s draw was the elimination of France, runners up at last month’s World Games, who will now play off for fifth position.

In the women’s, both France and Germany are safely through to the final four, while in group two Italy and New Zealand currently occupy the top two positions, and would need to lose badly on Sunday morning to lose their semi-final position.

Saturday provided some heart palpitations for some of the top teams. The Italian men had a draw against Great Britain, which left them with the daunting task of taking on France in a do-or-die clash for both teams.

The Italians eventually won, thanks to two goals from retiring captain Luca Bellini.

 “It was an incredible match, the French team is really strong, but this match is important for the semi-finals, so we were very happy,” Bellini said.

“After our 1-1 draw with GB in the morning our situation was hard, but at this moment the team knew the importance. But tomorrow are the semi-finals, they are the important games.”

Germany maintained its unbeaten record in the men’s competition with a strong win against Spain, which further confirmed their favouritism for their second consecutive men’s title.

 “So far everything is fine for us, it was a tough match against Spain, they are physically really strong and I think they have improved from the World Games,” captain Jonas Vieren said.

“We had some games where we played as good as we can, but we also had some games where we could not play our best polo. But I think at the moment we are still at a very high level, and we are ready now for the semi-finals.”

Great Britain leapfrogged France into second place behind Italy in their group, giving them a chance to win their first medal since taking bronze in 2004.

In the women’s draw the first round of matches will determine who will take on France and Germany in the semi-finals. Italy and New Zealand sit on top of the group with nine points, with Netherlands third on seven points and Switzerland fourth on six.

But the two leaders both have very winnable games and should progress through. New Zealand captain Erin Moore said her team are travelling well.

“It’s hard, everyone pays their own way, we get nothing for free, there’s no boats, there’s no anything, we work hard so I think we deserve to be here,” she said.

“We’ve been away from our families, and we miss them. All four teams here worked really hard to be here, so we’re going to make the most of it and we’re going to go home happy, tired and content.”

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