Lausanne, Switzerland, July 2, 2014 - Eight teams will face off in Group 1 Pool play before the Finals, while eight other teams fight for the three spots available for the Group 2 Finals in the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World League Intercontinental Round.
After a breather on the sixth week, Brazil and Italy will resume with their campaigns. These teams have met on 26 previous occasions, with Italy winning 14 times and Brazil 12 times, including the last two meetings where Italy won both matches with a 3-1 scoreline on the first week. As the hosts of the World League Group 1 Finals, Italy will automatically qualify, however, they are currently in second place behind Iran in Pool A. Brazil are currently third in Group A with 11 points and need to stay in front of Poland to qualify. Should Brazil miss their shot this week, this will be the second time that they do not succeed to qualify for the Finals since the 1991 World League season.
Last week, Iran and Poland met for the first time in the World League in Pool A. Iran won both encounters with 3-1 and 3-0 scorelines, qualifying them for the Finals of the World League for the first time in their team history. They have now won their last four meetings with teams from Europe – a team record after winning two matches in a row against European sides in 2013. Poland, on the other hand, have now lost four of their 22 matches against an Asian opposition.
In Pool B, Serbia currently hold third place with 17 points. To secure a Finals spot, they either need to make up one point to Russia, who are in second place with 18 points, or surpass Pool leaders USA by winning twice with a 3-0 or 3-1 score. The Serbians face a daunting task to break the United States as the latter have won eight of their last 10 matches, but two of their last three came out as defeats against Bulgaria and Russia. However, Serbia managed to overcome these two teams in previous weeks this season. Serbia and USA met in the 2008 World League Final, which USA won 3-1.
Bulgaria and Russia will meet again in Pool B. These two teams have met 16 times in the World League with Russia edging Bulgaria in wins 12-4. Their two encounters on the fourth week both ended in straight sets in favour of the Russian team. Russia edged Bulgaria further as they have booked 10 straight-set wins against Bulgaria in the World League, compared to only one win for Bulgaria in their first meeting in 1994.
In Group 2, teams will be completing their Pool play this week to confirm the three teams that will advance to the Finals in Sydney, together with hosts Australia.
Belgium drew with Finland in their two home matches, the latter can no longer qualify for the next stage. However, Belgium will end up winners of Pool C with a win or a five-set defeat against the Finns. The Belgians can join the Turkish team as the 2014 World League debutants reaching the Final Four of their group.
In the other Pool C face-off, Australia will play their last two Pool matches against Canada in Sydney. Australia and Canada split their two earlier matches played in Canada on the fifth week. Australia had only one home win in the World League so far, that came against Finland on June 7. Meanwhile, Canada only have a slim chance of winning Pool C and qualifying for the Finals as Belgium will be out of reach with a win or a five-set defeat against Finland.
In Pool E, the Netherlands will strengthen its reign over the Czech Republic as they won both previous World League matches against the Czech team on the fourth week. The Netherlands will be sure of the Finals slot if they beat the Czech Republic twice, including once with a 2-3 set margin, but other scenarios will depend on the results of the match between Portugal and Korea.
Also in Pool E, Portugal and Korea have played four times in World League history and the results are split with two wins each. Portugal won both Pool E matches against Korea in Ulsan, while Korea won twice last season. With two wins against Korea, Portugal can register their first ever World League with seven victories. Korea have two wins this season – against the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Portugal are the only team in Pool E they have not beaten this season.
Click here to read the World League week seven statistics preview.
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