Only the winner of this group will take its place in the
Finals. This year’s World League will also open with a
match from this pool: hosts Finland will meet Portugal
at 18:30 local time on Friday May 31 in the Helsinki
Ice Hall. As well as growing in size from 16 to the
record number of 18 teams, this year’s World League
will also be played in the format last used in 2011. The
only difference being that the top three world ranked
teams in each pool will play three matches at home and
two away with the bottom three world ranked teams
playing twice at home and three times away.
For the favourites, the aim is overall victory. For others,
however, the competition forms part of a valuable
learning experience: it is with this goal that spectacular
debutants Iran go into their first World League. The
best-known member of the team is without doubt the
coach: The legendary Julio Velasco. It was under his
guidance that Italy won the World League five times
between 1990 and 1995.
This time around, a win in the Preliminary Round would
be a success for Velasco and Iran, who booked their
sport in this year’s competition after advancing through
the qualification process alongside the Netherlands.
Just as it has done since 1990, the World League will
provide the perfect preparation for next year’s FIVB
Men’s World Championship in Poland.