Cordoba, Argentina, July 24, 2010 – Defending champions and world No. 1 Brazil will take on world No. 3 Russia, in a repeat of the 2007 World League final, after both teams won their semifinals of the 2010 edition in the inspirational Orfeo Superdomo on Saturday, beating Cuba 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-20) and Serbia 3-0 (26-24, 25-15, 25-20) respectively.
Brazil won the title three years ago 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 28-26, 25-22) but Sunday’s final has a intriguing feel to it with this youthful Russia side looking particularly dangerous and worthy of an upset. Russia and Brazil have met three times in a World League final with Brazil winning one of their record-equaling eight titles in 1993 and Russia claiming their only crown in 2002.
In Saturday’s first semifinal, Russia looked in menacing form against Serbia as they - apart from a tight first set – didn’t give their European counterparts a look in. Superior spiking and serving was the order of the day with the tournament’s top scorer and Russian captain for the match Maxim Mikhaylov amassing 21 points while Sasa Starovic, second-equal in the best scorer lists, did his best to keep Serbia in the game.
There was some quite brilliant Volleyball at times, rallies giving the supportive crowd plenty to cheer for and didn’t they appreciate it. Twenty-one-year-old wonder kid Dmitriy Muserskiy and Mikhaylov gave last year’s bronze medallists plenty of attacking options while Alexander Volkov was unbeatable at the block.
“It will be my first final and I am very happy I can play it,” Mikhaylov said. “We did a good job. Today we were a united team.”
Meanwhile in the second semifinal, hot favourites Brazil overcome a rusty start to play the obviously talented Cuba out of the game. Brazil found Cuba too hot to handle in the first set but soon pulled out their “A Game” to grind the world No. 9 down. Some incredible defence from libero Mario and smart play from setter Marlon gave the experienced Dante all the tools to weave his magic with as he top scored with 16 points.
Brazil, who will be looking for a record breaking ninth World League title, lead the overall World League count against Russia, who have guaranteed themselves a fifth World League medal in five years following three bronze medals and a silver, 17:10 while they won the last match between the two sides in last year’s World League semifinals 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-21).
The final of the 2010 FIVB World League will take place at 21:00 (local time) and will be preceded by the bronze medal match between Cuba and Serbia at 17:30. Both matches will be streamed live on www.fivb.org.