The inaugural edition of The Match begins in the Belarusian capital of Minsk five days today on 9-10 September.
The competition takes place across two nights in the recently refurbished Dinamo National Olympic Stadium and the excitement is building following the announcement of both teams last week.
The European team includes six reigning world champions and 15 European champions while Team USA is headed by three reigning Olympic champions and is also replete with US champions who will be heading to the IAAF World Championships in Doha which begin in late September.
Six reigning world champions and 15 reigning European champions have been named on Team Europe for The Match: Europe v USA.
May the best team win, @usatf.
: https://t.co/oq35o28ppJ pic.twitter.com/y5FBu8akA7
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) August 27, 2019
Ahead of The Match, we take a look at some of the most highly anticipated events at the last major competition on the calendar before the World Championships.
Home success for Belarus in the high jump?
Belarus has eleven athletes competing in The Match including two in the men’s high jump - both of whom are very capable of taking maximum points for Team Europe.
The home contingent is made up of national record-holder Dzmitry Nabokau and the cool-headed Maksim Nedasekau who equalled his PB of 2.33m to win silver at the European Championships. He was also an integral part of the Belarusian team that took silver when Dynamic New Athletics (DNA) was part of the European Games in Minsk in June.
Team Europe also features joint world leader Ilya Ivanyuk from Russia while the US contingent is headed by their domestic champion Jeron Robinson.
When? Monday 9 September, 8:04pm
Lasitskene poised to extend her excellent record
Mariya Lasitskene has won 48 of her last 50 competitions and the reigning world and European champion will be looking to extend her remarkable run of dominance ahead of Doha where she could create history by winning the world high jump title for the third successive time.
Lasitskene is already a familiar face in Minsk having competed at the last two editions of the annual indoor competition at the Stolitsa shopping centre. Lasitskene cleared 2.00m at the most recent edition and came very close to setting a lifetime best of 2.07m as well.
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) September 2, 2019
And there will be home interest in the women’s high jump too courtesy of Karyna Demidik who equalled the long-standing national record of 2.00m earlier this season.
When? Tuesday 10 September, 8:10pm
Exciting pole vault competitions anticipated
Reigning European champions Armand Duplantis from Sweden and Ekaterini Stefanidi from Greece are part of Team Europe but both will face opposition not only from their European teammates but also their US rivals.
Duplantis’ principal opposition comes from Poland’s Piotr Lisek who surpassed Duplantis’ European lead with a 6.01m clearance in Lausanne before clearing 6.02m in Monaco as well as teammate Pawel Wojciechowski, the reigning European indoor champion.
Stefanidi might not have been beaten in a major outdoor competition since 2015 but she will need to be close to her best form to fend off reigning European indoor champion Anzhelika Sidorova and Katie Nageotte from the United States.
When? Monday 9 September, 7.00pm (women's pole vault); Tuesday 10 September, 7.03pm (men's pole vault)
A first sub-10 100m clocking on Belarusian soil?
There has never been a sub-10 100m clocking in Belarus but if conditions allow, this could change on Monday evening.
The US contingent features Mike Rodgers - one of the most prolific sprinters in history with 46 sub-10 100m performances and counting - along with Isiah Young and Christopher Belcher who have PBs of 9.92 and 9.93 respectively.
But the European contingent will by no means be outmatched against the Americans in Minsk. At their very best Adam Gemili and Filippo Tortu are both sub-10 performers - they have PBs of 9.97 and 9.99 respectively - and the former is returning to his very best form, recently winning the British 200m title in 20.08 into a headwind.
When? Monday 9 September, 7:30pm
European contingent to challenge the 90 metre-line in the javelin
But one event in which the balance of power is firmly with the European contingent is the men’s javelin and Team Europe features three of the top four on the 2019 world list: Estonia’s Magnus Kirt (90.61m), reigning world champion Johannes Vetter from Germany who is returning to form after injury (89.28m) and Lithuania’s Edis Matusevicius (89.17m).
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) August 30, 2019
And the fourth member of Team Europe is the reigning world and European champion Thomas Rohler who has a season’s best of 86.99m. A clean sweep in this event is fully expected for Team Europe.
When? Tuesday 10 September, 9:10pm