Lausanne, Switzerland, May 29, 2014 – After last week's sensational opening, the 2014 FIVB
Volleyball World League continues its wonderful recipe of top encounters with its second week of action due to start on Thursday, headlined by the match up between between nine-time winners Brazil and 2012 champions Poland who play on Thursday and Friday in Maringa, Brazil.
Sixteen matches are set to be played from Thursday through to Sunday – with Pool E featuring for the first time, following Pools A, B C & D who started last weekend. Pools F & G begin in week three.
Eleven teams – Poland, Iran, Serbia, Russia, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Korea, Portugal and the Czech Republic – will open their 2014 World League campaign this weekend.
In Pool A, Brazil and Poland will play each other in the World League for the fourth successive season. These teams have met 29 times in the World League, Brazil have the advantage with 21 victories while Poland have eight wins to their name. In their last seven encounters, Poland have won four, but Brazil have won the last two. Brazil will try to avenge their two losses to Italy in the opening weekend. The last time that Brazil started off with two defeats was in 2012. Poland are embarking on their 17th World League campaign and are seeking to improve their 11th place finish last season, which equalled their worst showing from 2009.
Italy and Iran will face-off in the other Pool A matches in Trieste and Verona on Friday and Sunday respectively. These teams have met twice before – Iran won the first match last year, then Italy responded by labouring a 3-2 win in the second match. Italy are on course to achieving their third successive win after defeating Brazil in Jaragua Do Sul twice. In each of the previous four seasons, from 2010 to 2013, they started off by winning at least their first three matches. Iran made a promising debut last season beating opponents Serbia, Cuba, Germany and Italy at least once, except eventual World League champions Russia in their Intercontinental Round group.
In Pool B, Serbia and Russia will clash for the third consecutive World League season in Nis. Russia lead Serbia with five wins out of their six duels. Serbia have won three of their last four World League opening matches, losing only to Russia in 2012. Defending champions Russia have won the World League on three occasions – in 2002, 2011 and 2013 – following Brazil and Italy as the only multiple titleholders of the competition.
Canada and Finland are opening their World League campaign this season with a duel in Pool C in Calgary. The two teams have won five matches against each other but Canada have won the last three encounters. In their eighth World League appearance, Canada will take encouragement from their fifth place finish last season. Finland are looking to improve on their best ever World League finish of seventh in 2007, counting on their prolific players to lead their charge – playmaker Mikko Esko and their defensive specialist Lauri Kerminen, who were last year’s Intercontinental Round second best setter and receiver, respectively.
In Pool D, Germany will attempt to extend their mastery of Argentina in the World League when they play each other in the Argentine city of Salta. The Germans have won all eight matches against the Argentines, five matches have been won without conceding a set, including their last four encounters. Argentina hope to snap their 13-match losing streak in the World League while Germany seek their third win in a row since the opening match - a feat they will achieve for the first time in all of their 11 participations.
France and Japan have played 16 World League matches against each other, the former with the upper hand winning 13 times against the latter. The competition between these two teams seems to be tight as the two of the last three editions ended in five sets. If France beat Japan twice this week in Montpellier, they will have a seven-match winning streak for the first time. The Japanese side are pursuing their first win of the season after losing both opening matches last weekend to Germany, their last win came against Pool E contender Portugal in June 2013.
Pool E teams will start their season campaigns this week with match-ups between the Netherlands and Korea, and Portugal and the Czech Republic.
The Netherlands and Korea will stage their 19th and 20th meeting this week in Eindhoven. The Dutch team have won 17 of the previous 18 meetings. The only victory by Korea was their first ever meeting in the World League in 1993 in Korea. The Netherlands belong to the six-nation list of teams who have the most appearances in the World League with 18. The Dutch side have won five of their last six home matches, only losing to other Pool E contender Portugal in this run. Korea have won their last two matches against Portugal but have not won three in a row in 19 years since they defeated Japan twice and China once in 1995.
Portugal will host the Czech Republic in Povoa de Varzim. These two teams will meet for the first time in the World League. The last time Portugal started their World League season with a win was in 2011, when they beat Finland in five sets. For the Czech Republic, this will be their second World League campaign after a fourth place finish in 2003. Their libero Martin Krystof and Jan Stoker are the only players left in this year’s squad who also played in 2003.
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