Lausanne, Switzerland, June 23, 2010 – Pool D sees a top-of-the-table battle between Cuba and Germany as the Netherlands look to add to their sole victory over Brazil as the fourth weekend of the 2010 FIVB World League Intercontinental Round begins on Friday.
With each of the four pool winners and the best second-placed team across the pools joining hosts Argentina in the Final Round in Cordoba (July 21-25), the race for Final Round places heats up this weekend with all five vacancies yet to be determined and only three weekends remaining in the 2010 World League Intercontinental Round.
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Cuba currently sit on top of Pool D with five wins from six games, succumbing to only one defeat at the hands of Poland last week in Havana. After six matches at home, Cuba, ranked ninth in the world, now embarks on a tough three-weekend away journey – including Poland and Argentina - starting with Germany in Trier on Friday at 18:00 GMT. Germany, the world No. 17, have made an excellent return to the FIVB World League this year, having won four games out of six. The two defeats were to Cuba 3-0 and 3-1 two weeks ago in Havana. The other clash in Pool D sees Argentina travel to Poland, who themselves are not out of the running of a Final Round spot, as the European champions prepare for their first home game of their campaign, determined to add to their three wins to date.
Meanwhile in Pool A, leaders Brazil will be hoping to avoid another slip-up against the Netherlands as the two sides face off in Rotterdam (first game at 15:00 GMT on Saturday). The defending champions were humbled by the world No. 28 in straight sets in Brasilia two weeks ago – their only loss of their campaign - and despite winning the second match 3-0, the world No. 1 will be weary of their European opponents as they embark on three weekends away from home. The Netherlands currently boast a win-loss record of 3-3 and need at least one win from this weekend’s two encounters to keep their pool hopes alive. Pool A’s other match sees second-placed Bulgaria take on winless Korea in their first home game of the competition looking to keep the pressure on Brazil by maintaining their unbeaten World League run of nine matches against Korea, as they currently sit one point behind the South Americans with four wins and two defeats.
Last year’s silver medallists Serbia will be looking to try and take a decisive lead in Pool B when they travel to China (first game in Luohe at 08:00 GMT on Saturday). Serbia and Italy, who travel to France, both have five wins from six games with the Serbians topping the group by a point with 15. Italy, will be looking to repeat their two earlier wins against France (3-0 and 3-2 at home in week one) although they can’t afford to drop any points as they did in the second match when conceding two sets.*
Russia will be within a whisker of qualification for the Final Round if they overcome Egypt in Cairo and Olympic champions USA lose both matches to Finland in Pool C. The European side, who has yet to lose in six World League matches against Egypt, is five points ahead of second-placed USA, who are on 12, but will be aware of the African champions on home soil following a breath-taking weekend between the two sides a fortnight ago which saw Russia narrowly clinch 3-1 and 3-2 victories in Kaliningrad. Meanwhile, USA play at home for the second time in the competition as they take on Finland (one win: five defeats) in Hoffman Estates. The home side, who has also yet to lose in six World League matches against Finland, recorded two 3-1 wins over the Scandinavians in Tampere in week two and need two further victories to ensure they keep in touch with Russia.
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* Note: Match won 3-0 or 3-1: 3 points for the winner, 0 point for the loser
Match won 3-2: 2 points for the winner, 1 point for the loser
In case of tie, the teams will be classified according to the following criteria: number of matches won, points ratio and sets ratio