On day five, current World Champions will return to the scene in both the -70kg and -90kg categories. As per the ladies, Europe will find many challenges to claim medals, however the men appear to be in a stronger position for a shot at the gold.
Despite the strong overseas opponents, Olympic bronze medallist, Sally CONWAY (GBR) will give Europe hopes for a spot on the podium.
Double World medallist, in white, Maria BERNABEU (ESP) is eager to top her World medal tally with the missing piece, the gold medal.
Number two seed, Paris Grand Slam bronze medallist, Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA) finished 5th place at the Worlds in 2017. Can she top her results in Baku?
Nowhere to hide
Maria BERNABEU (ESP) was the only European medallist last year on the World podium of the -70kg category and with the sheer strength from other other continents, challenges will come from every angle.
Besides the Spanish judoka, who will be unseeded in Baku, it was Marie Eve GAHIE (FRA) who got the closest to a medal chance in the previous year. The strong 21-year-old judoka will begin her day as number 2 seed and with high hopes on being able to surpass all encounters. Her success ruling the Grand Prix tournaments this year puts her in good stead for her upcoming challenge. Though she missed out on a bronze medal last year she helped the French team to a bronze on the final day of competition, an invaluable asset.
Olympic Bronze medallist, ever-smiling athlete Sally CONWAY (GBR), will give us the remaining hopes for a European spot on the podium. CONWAY dominated the category in the Paris Grand Slam this year, defeating current World Champion ARAI Chizuru (JPN). ARAI will be returning to make sure she does not give away all of her titles this year. Of course, the category has an endless supply of competition from around the globe including; Double Olympic medallist and Triple World Champion, Yuri ALVEAR (COL); World Silver medallist, Maria PEREZ (PUR) and multiple IJF World Tour medallist, Assmaa NIANG (MAR). ARAI will be joined by ONO Yoko, which means only one thing: more encounters to overcome.
For some reason, despite all his outstanding results, WLR#1, Aleksandar KUKOLJ never had the chance to have a bit of the glory at the World stage. One way or another, Serbia will be determined to return back with another World title. Can Kukolj be the one to take it this time?
2018 European bronze medallist, Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP) recently defeated current World Champion, Nemanja MAJDOV. Will it give him enough confidence to top the podium in Baku?
Young and gifted judoka, Mikhail IGOLNIKOV (RUS) also showed his values when surpassing high classed athletes on his way to his first senior European title earlier this year.
Powerhouse, Beka GVINIASHVILI (GEO) took the senior European Championship bronze and a gold at the Masters in St. Petersburg. GVINIASHVILI recently defeated team mate, World and European Champion, Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI, for a place in Baku.
Taking the gold in the Budapest Grand Prix last month is TOTH Krisztian (HUN). The World silver medallist sadly could not turn improve on his previous results on home ground in Budapest last year but after a convincing spell on the tatami this year and with a profound reputation, TOTH will undoubtedly be one to watch.
Ushangi MARGIANI celebrating his 2017 World Champion bronze medal. The Georgian judoka is amongst the strong set of the European medal hunters.
The real pressure will certainly be on current World Champion, Nemanja MAJDOV (SRB) as he arrives to Baku with the aim to remain on top of the World.
2017 World Silver medallist, Mihael ZGANK will also be amongst the 82 competitors of this weight division. After switching from Slovenia to Turkey, the name Mikail OZERLER will be the one to keep an eye on. The Turkish team could indeed be celebrating a World medal on this fine day.
Serbia with real potential to return with another World title
Despite an extraordinary wealth of talent in the -90kg category, Serbia definitely has the edge, their entries are WRL#1, Aleksandar KUKOLJ and 2017 World Champion, Nemanja MAJDOV.
European gold medallist KUKOLJ will take to the tatami in an attempt to achieve his first World Championship medal. After a spectacular performance on the circuit this year, taking a gold in the Ekaterinburg Grand Slam, this athlete has proven he has what it takes. Though MAJDOV has not seen the top of the podium since, he has not shied away from adding to his medal tally, taking a silver in the European Championships. He was also defeated in the final of the Mediterranean Games by number three seed, Nikoloz SHERAZADISHVILI (ESP).
European bronze medallist, SHERAZADISHVILI, has shown good preparation in this Olympic cycle and the run up to the World Championships. The towering athlete has a reach over many of his competitors, which suits his upright and powerful techniques. Other competitors to watch out for are Junior and U23 powerhouse, Beka GVINIASHVILI (GEO), who took the senior European Championship bronze and a gold at the Masters in St. Petersburg in 2017. GVINIASHVILI recently defeated team mate, World and European Champion, Avtandili TCHRIKISHVILI, for a place in Baku. TCHRIKISHVILI has recently been making a comeback on the circuit with a gold in the Zagreb Grand Prix. However, for this week, GVINIASHVILI will be joined by 2017 World Champion bronze medallist, Ushangi MARGIANI. 2017 World Silver medallist, Mihael ZGANK will also be amongst the 82 competitors of this weight division. After switching from Slovenia to Turkey, the name Mikail OZERLER will be the one to keep an eye on. The Turkish team could indeed be celebrating a World medal on this fine day.
Last but not least, taking the gold in the Budapest Grand Prix last month is TOTH Krisztian (HUN). The 2014 World silver medallist sadly could not turn improve on his previous results on home ground in Budapest last year but after a convincing spell on the tatami this year and with a profound reputation, TOTH will undoubtedly be one to watch alongside hidden yet rather gifted youngster, 2018 European Champion, Mikhail IGOLNIKOV (RUS). The Russian talent defeated current World Champion, MAJDOV, on his way to the Senior European title.