Italy v. Russia - July 20, 2013 – 19.30 (GMT) / 16:30 (local time)
In a classic World League matchup, Italy and Russia will face each other for the 29th time. Italy, the only unbeaten semifinalist this year, will be looking to knock out Russia, who were World League winners in 2002 and 2011.
Russia will try to step up their game to prove their place in the semifinals, after only narrowly qualifying with a 3-2 win against Brazil and a shock loss to Canada (2-3). Russia are also the only semifinal team without a leader in an individual player category. Italy, however, are coming off a strong 3-1 win against Argentina, and will have one of the best servers in this year’s Finals, Emanuele Birarelli, helping them advance to the finals to win their ninth World League title – their first since 2000.
Brazil v. Bulgaria - July 20, 2013 – 23.00 (GMT) / 20:00 (local time)
Favorites Brazil will try to keep their World League record streak against Bulgaria going, when the teams meet for the 21st time on Saturday. Brazil have won 17 matches against Bulgaria, who have only managed to win three games against Brazil.
Nine-time FIVB Volleyball World League champions Brazil secured their semifinal spot for the 18th time in 24 editions - including 14 of the last 15 – after beating Canada 3-0 on Friday. Bulgaria, however, will try to recover from its loss against Italy on Friday. The team advances to as Pool D’s number 2 thanks to their 3-1 win against Argentina on Thursday.
WORLD LEAGUE FINALS – DAY 4 – STATISTICS
Brazil v Bulgaria
-After a loss to Russia and a win over Canada, Brazil have advanced as the winners of Pool E.
-Brazil will finish in the top four for the 18th time in 24 World League participations. They managed this in 13 of the past 14 seasons. Only exception - 6th in 2012.
-Brazil have won eight of the previous 12 World Leagues. However, they did not win in the last two seasons.
-Brazil have lost their last three Finals matches that have gone to five sets (v Russia in 2011 and 2013, v Poland in 2012). Prior to this streak, Brazil had never lost back-to-back five-set World League Finals matches.
-Brazil could become the first country to reach 1000 sets won in World League play. Before this match, they have 999. No other country has reached 900, though Italy could do so before the end of the tournament (897 sets won before their semifinal match against Russia).
-Brazil have played the most matches of all countries in the World League (387), but they have lost the fewest (83) off all teams with more than 140 encounters.
-Junior Mario da Silva Pedreira is the best digger (2.00 per set) in the Final Round of this year’s tournament AND the best receiver (51.85% success rate) among all semifinalists.
-Bulgaria beat Argentina 3-1 and lost to Italy with the same set score. With these results, they advanced as Pool D’s number 2.
-Bulgaria have reached consecutive World League semifinals for the first time in World League history.
-These are Bulgaria’s fifth semifinals in the World League. On the past four occasions (1994, 2004, 2006, 2012), they finished the season in fourth place.
-Bulgaria will play their seventh World League Finals match against Brazil. Only against Italy they have played that many.
-Tsvetan Sokolov is the best scorer in the Finals of this year’s World League. He collected no less than 56 points, 12 more than his nearest opponent.
-Brazil and Bulgaria have played 20 matches against each other in the World League. Brazil won 17, Bulgaria 3.
-These teams have met six times in Finals in the World League, but never in the semifinals. Brazil have won the first four of these encounters, Bulgaria the last two (in 2006 and 2007).
-Brazil and Bulgaria also met in Pool A of this season’s World League. Brazil won both ends of the doubleheader in Brasília 3-1.
-Brazil’s Bruno Mossa Rezende and Bulgaria’s Georgi
Bratoev share the lead in the individual setters category. This both average
11.13 sets per set
Italy v Russia
-After beating Bulgaria and Argentina 3-1, Italy advance as the winners of Pool D. They are the only unbeaten semifinalists this year.
-Italy can win three consecutive matches in World League Finals for the first time since 2003-2004.
-Italy ensured their first top-four finish in the World League since 2004, when they finished second. Italy's best finish in the last eight years is sixth (2006, 2010, 2011).
-Italy can join Brazil on nine titles by winning the World League. This would be their first win since 2000.
-Italy have won 897 sets in the World League. They could become the second team with 900, after Brazil (999), who can become the first team with 1.000 sets this weekend.
-Emanuele Birarelli is one of the best servers in this year’s Finals. Birarelli shares the lead in aces (4) and is the outright leader among semifinalists in serve hits (32).
-Russia, World League winners in 2002 and 2011, only narrowly managed to qualify for the semifinals. After a 3-2 win against Brazil and a shock loss to Canada (2-3), they advanced as Pool E’s number 2.
-That loss against Canada broke Russia’s six-match winning streak in World League Finals. This is Russia’s longest run ever at this stage.
-Russia have reached the final in seven World League seasons. However, they have won only two of these, losing five. Only Cuba lost as many tournament deciders as Russia (also 5).
-Russia have now won 756 sets in World League play, the fourth-most of all countries. They need one more set to equal Cuba in third. Only Brazil (999) and Italy (897) have more.
-Russia are the only semifinal team without a leader in an individual player category.
-Italy v Russia is an absolute classic in World League play. These teams have met each other 28 times, with the former winning 11 matches and the latter winning 17.
-10 of these 28 matches took place in Finals. Italy have won four. Russia have won six, including the last four. Last Final Round win for Italy against Russia - 3-2 in July, 2000. Italy went on to win the World League in that year.
-These teams have played two World League semifinals against each other. Italy won 3-1 in 1999, Russia won 3-1 in 2002. Both teams went on to win the title.
-Matches between these teams in World League Finals (10 encounters) have never been decided in straight sets. In Intercontinental Rounds (18), both teams have two 3-0 victories.
-These teams also met in Pool B of this year’s World League. They split the doubleheader at Surgut (Russia).
-Italy’s win against Russia in Pool B has been their only in the last six mutual encounters. Italy have not beaten Russia twice in the same season since 2006.
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