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Competition set to get stiffer on day 2 of World League Finals

 
Playing in their first World League finals, Canada is guaranteed a top six finish.

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 18, 2013 – After beating Brazil in a five-set thriller in Wednesday’s opening match, Russia now gets set to take on Canada on day 2 of the World League Finals. And on top form after continuing their winning streak against Argentina, Bulgaria prepares to meet Italy in Thursday’s second match.

Russia v. Canada  - July 18, 2013 – 20.30 (GMT) / 17:30 (local time)

This will be the first ever World League meeting between Canada and Russia. However, with 73 finals matches under its belt, Russia has considerably more experience in the World League Finals than Canada, who is making its debut.

Russia has now won six finals matches in a row for the first time, 10 of its last 11 dating back to 2010.

Though a surprise contender in this year’s finals, Canada is well placed to pull off a victory being the only team beside Brazil to lose two or fewer matches during the Intercontinental Round. Canada finished top of Pool C with an 8-2 record, one place behind Brazil’s 9-1 lead.

Italy v. Bulgaria - July 18, 2013 – 00:00 (GMT) / 21:00 (local time)

This is the seventh meeting between Italy and Bulgaria in the World League finals, marking the first time that Bulgaria will have played the same opponent seven times in the Finals.

In overall World League play, Italy holds a 10-8 advantage over Bulgaria. Of those seven World League Finals matches, Italy won the first four final encounters from 1994-2004, but Bulgaria has won the last two, in 2006 and 2011.

WORLD LEAGUE FINALS – DAY 2 – STATISTICS

Russia v Canada

Russia   

- After defeating Brazil in its opening match of the World League finals on Wednesday, Russia has now won six finals matches in a row for the first time, and 10 of its last 11 dating back to 2010.
- Against Brazil, Russia rallied from two sets to one down to eventually win in five sets, the first time it had done so in the World League finals since 2003 against Italy.
- The win over Brazil marked the fourth straight time that Russia has won its first match of the World League finals. The last time Russia lost its first match was in 2008, against Brazil. Russia can now win its opening two matches of the finals for the third straight year.
- Russia has now won 754 sets in World League play since it began competing as Russia in 1993. By defeating Canada, Russia would improve to 757 sets won to tie Cuba for third place on the all-time list, behind only Brazil (996 after its loss to Russia) and Italy (891 before its match against Bulgaria).

Canada

- Canada is playing in the World League finals for the first time and is guaranteed a top six finish. Its previous best finish in the World League was seventh in 1992.
- Canada finished on top of Pool C with an 8-2 record, joining Brazil (9-1, Pool A) as the only teams to lose two or fewer matches during the Intercontinental Round.
- Canada can extend its national record of eight World League victories in one year. Its previous best was six wins in 1992.
- After a 2-2 start to the 2013 campaign, Canada carries a national record six-match World League winning streak into the clash with Russia.

Head-to-Head

- This will be the first ever World League meeting between Canada and Russia (or Russia's ancestor states, the Soviet Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States).
- The teams have met twice at world championship level, in 1994 and 2006, with Russia prevailing both times.
- While Canada will be playing its first ever match in the World League finals, Russia will be playing its 73rd finals match (or 81st including the Soviet Union and Commonwealth of Independent States).

Bulgaria v Italy

Bulgaria

- By defeating Argentina in its opening match of the World League finals on Wednesday, Bulgaria snapped a three-match finals losing streak. By defeating Italy, Bulgaria can win two finals matches in the same year for the first time since 2006 (three wins).
- Bulgaria can win its opening two matches of the World League finals for the third time in its history, after 1994 and 2006.
- A victory against Italy would guarantee Bulgaria a place in the semifinals and, at worst, a fourth place finish. That would equal Bulgaria's best ever finish in the World League, achieved on four previous occasions (most recently in 2012).
- Eight of Bulgaria's last 10 World League finals losses were in straight sets. The other two were in five sets.

Italy

- Italy won eight of the first 11 World League titles but has been winless since 2000. Italy hasn't finished in the top five since a second-place finish in 2004.
- Italy qualified for the 2013 finals by winning Pool B over Russia on a countback. Both teams finished 7-3 in the Intercontinental Round.
- Italy lost its opening match of the World League finals in each of the last three times it qualified prior to 2013 (2006, 2010 and 2011). The last time Italy won its first match of the finals was in 2004 against Serbia and Montenegro.
- Beginning with its loss to Brazil in the 2004 final, Italy has lost eight of its last nine matches in the World League finals.
- Italy's most recent World League finals match, in 2011, was also against Bulgaria. This is the first time that Italy will play consecutive finals matches against the same country since 2000-01, against Russia.

Head-to-Head

- In overall World League play, Italy holds a 10-8 advantage over Bulgaria.
- This is the seventh meeting between Italy and Bulgaria in the World League finals, marking the first time that Bulgaria will have played the same opponent seven times in the finals. Before this match, Bulgaria had played Italy, Brazil and Russia six times each in the finals.
- Of those seven World League finals matches, Italy won the first four finals encounters from 1994-2004, but Bulgaria has won the last two, in 2006 and 2011.
- Five of the six previous World League finals encounters between these teams were decided in straight sets. The only exception was a four-set win to Italy in 2003.

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