Eight teams are still in contention for one of the five Final Round places with only hosts Argentina guaranteed a berth at the next stage of the competition in Cordoba.
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Brazil head Pool A on victories as both the defending champions and Bulgaria sit on 25 points. Brazil had little difficulty in seeing off Korea with two 3-1 wins (27-25, 25-21, 22-25, 25-13) and 3-1 (25-18, 25-23, 23-25, 25-15) over the hosts, keeping the world No. 16 winless and the world No.1 on course for a Final Round spot but Bulgaria also saw off the Netherlands at home in Varna with two straight set victories (25-9, 25-17, 27-25) and (25-22, 25-20, 32-30) to keep pace with Brazil. Bulgaria and Brazil now face off in Varna on Thursday and Friday with a Final Round spot up for grabs.
It is a similar scenario in Pool B where Serbia and Italy are tied on 24 points after last year’s runner’s up beat France 3-1 (16-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-23) on Friday before losing the second match in a five-set thriller 3-2 (25-23, 18-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-8) on Sunday. "We knew this would be a very difficult match,” Serbia captain Bojan Janic said after the second game. “I think we were not focused enough to win but still we are in the good position to qualify for the Final Round, and before the start of the competition we could have only dreamt about having this score prior to the last weekend. Everything is in our hands, and with victory over Italy we are good to go to Argentina. We will do our best to achieve that goal."
Italy joined Serbia at the top of the group after recording two away wins against China, both in straight sets (25-20, 25-22, 25-20) and (25-17, 27-25, 25-21) and now travel to Belgrade to face Serbia on Wednesday and Thursday to determine who travels to Argentina. “For us it was important to win the game but when you have to win the second game, the game becomes more difficult to play,” Italy coach Andrea Anastasi said. "It is important for us to enter the Final Round in Argentina. Maybe we can be there."
Meanwhile in Pool C, leaders Russia missed the opportunity to become the first team to qualify for the FIVB World League Final Round, with a shock 3-1 (25-18, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19) loss to an Urpo Sivula (25 points) inspired Finland side in Tampere on Saturday meaning, with 26 points, they now have to battle it out with Olympic champions USA, who are second on 20 points, in Kansas on Friday and Saturday to book a ticket to Argentina. Russia looked on course for the Argentina trip when they won the first match 3-0 (25-20, 25-19, 25-14) on Friday before Finland scored the upset of the weekend. "An awesome victory against a top team," Finland captain Jukka Lehtonen said. "This is like another dream.”
"I am enormously proud, again one historical day to remember, like beating Brazil 364 days ago here in the same place," Finland's coach Mauro Berruto said. "Now we have beaten gold, silver and bronze medallists of the last Olympic Games. I am proud of all these young guys and the whole Finnish Volleyball family."
USA, who like Russia were playing their opponents for the first time in the World League, kept the pressure on Russia with two crucial and tough wins over Egypt 3-2 (22-25, 31-29, 17-25, 25-21, 15-12) and 3-2 (20-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-22, 18-16) with Egypt unlucky on both occasions thanks to the weekend’s top scorer Ahmed Abdelhay who recorded 23 and 25 points in the respective matches.
In Pool D Cuba claimed two impressive victories 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 26-24) and 3-1 (25-19, 25-22. 22-25, 25-16) against Poland in Lodz to remain on top of the group with 24 points and on course for a Final Round place while the European champions saw their chances of qualifying for Argentina virtually extinguished. Earlier on Wednesday and Thursday, Germany moved into second place in the group on 19 points with two 3-1 wins (25-18, 17-25, 25-15, 25-17) and (25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 25-19) against Argentina in Berlin.
The 2010 FIVB World League enters its last weekend of the Intercontinental Round starting on Wednesday with Serbia hosting Italy at 15:00 GMT and Finland travelling to Egypt at 18:00.