Lausanne, Switzerland, June 26, 2014 – Iran
and Poland will set a power-packed duel in Tehran and record their first two
meetings as colleagues Italy and Brazil take a breather in Pool A, while USA
take on Russia for another contest in Kaliningrad in Pool B on the sixth week
of the Intercontinental Round of the FIVB Volleyball World League from June 27
Twelve teams heat up the competition in their respective pool plays in Group 2, while the final round of Group 3 institutes the ground-breaking cluster competition format of the World League.
After their impressive wins over Brazil in Italy in the previous weeks, Asian powerhouse Iran have established a reputation of upsetting top teams. Iran have won their last two matches against European teams – two wins against Pool A leaders Italy – and can record three wins in a row against another European opposition for the first time in their team history. On a positive note, Poland have only lost two of their 20 matches against Asian oppositions China and Japan in the 2008 World League.
Iran are currently second in the group and are hoping to reach the World League finals for the first time, while Poland are in perfect balance in this World League season with four wins and four losses.
Meanwhile, USA and Russia go head-to-head for the 23rd time in the World League – the latter have the upper hand with 14 wins in their previous encounters. But USA have won both meetings with Russia in this season with 3-2 and 3-0 score lines. The last time USA have beaten Russia in consecutive matches in the World League was in 1992 when they recorded double 3-0 victories, and eventually won a bronze medal – one of their four World League medals that year.
In the other Pool B match, Serbia and Bulgaria will meet for the 10th time with Serbia on a slim edge of five wins against the four wins of Bulgaria. In their latest encounters, Serbia won the last two matches and have never won three in a row against the Bulgarian squad. Bulgaria, on the other hand, were able to beat Serbia in three consecutive matches in 2003.
On the first week, Belgium beat Australia twice in Pool C on 3-0 and 3-1 score lines. But since then, Australia have earned their first-ever three wins in the World League. Australia have played three five-setters in the World League this season and have won two, while Belgium played two five-setters and lost both matches.
Also in Pool C, Canada and Finland revive their first week rivalry. As the Canadians fare better than the Finns in the number of wins, the Finns are hoping to break their alternate win-loss patterns in their last six matches. These teams also met in the World League in 2007, 2012 and 2013, with both teams splitting the wins with five each.
France and Argentina will meet again on the sixth week. These teams have met on 16 previous occasions, with France winning nine times, including the double victories scored on the first week of the World League. Apart from maintaining Pool D leadership, France have now won the last four encounters with Argentina and can qualify for the final round of Group 2 by winning one of the two matches against Argentina. Nonetheless, the Frenchmen will also proceed to the next round by losing twice in a five-setter. To qualify for the final round, Argentina need two wins against the French side with one of those matches ending in a 3-0 or 3-1 score line.
Japan and Germany have met ten times before, with the latter having the advantage of six wins in their previous encounters. This season in Pool D, Germany met Japan twice, with Germany winning both fixtures. The last Japanese victory over the German side came in 2011 in a five-set duel.
Korea and the Netherlands have met each other 20 times but the Koreans only managed to win two matches against the Dutch side. The last match between these two countries though favoured Korea with a 3-1 score line on the second week of the World League in Pool E, after 18 defeats in a row against Netherlands and the first since they first met in 1993. In their last 14 matches, none have ended in a five-setter.
Portugal and Czech Republic scored a draw against each other in their previous encounters. They have played each other twice before the World League, where Portugal won the first match and Czech Republic won the second match. Czech Republic are on a skid, having lost three of the last four matches in the World League, while Portugal have won four of their last five matches.
The group winners Cuba of Pool F and China of Pool G will meet in the first semifinal. Cuba and China have each lost one match in the Intercontinental Round and both did this against a fellow Final Four competitor Turkey and Slovakia, respectively. These teams have met nine times in the World League and China have three wins, while Cuba have six, including the last two victories.
In the other semifinal match-up, debutants Turkey and Slovakia will face each other. These two teams managed to finish second in their pools. These teams have met at the 2013 European Championships, where Slovakia edged the Turkish side 3-2 in the group stage. Turkey are the lowest ranked World League team on 45th place. Although they had an automatic berth for the Final Four as hosts, they took matters in their own hands by winning their last four matches. Slovakia, are the only team with a 100 per cent record in first sets of matches – winning all in six of their matches.
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