Stats point toward Finland win
Finland start the match as narrow favourites on home ground having won both of their home matches against Portugal in 2011|
Lausanne, Switzerland, May 31, 2013 - There is not much difference the two teams in the FIVB world rankings, but history points towards a Finland win against Portugal in Friday's opening match of the 2013 World League at 15:30 (GMT) in Helsinki.
Finland is ranked 30th with Portugal six players lower in 36th on the FIVB world rankings. However Finland hold a 5-3 advantage in previous World League encounters between the two countries. This is the third time Finland and Portugal have been in the same pool after 2006 and 2011.
Seven of the eight World League encounters between Finland and Portugal, including all four in 2011, were won by the home team. The only away victory in matches between these two sides was Finland's 3-2 win on July 23, 2006.
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Poland can become third country to successfully defend its World League title
> This is the 24th edition of the FIVB World League, which began in 1990.
> Defending champion Poland can become the third country to win the World League in at least two consecutive years after Italy and Brazil. Italy has done it three times and Brazil twice.
> The last three titles have been won by three different countries (Poland in 2012, Russia in 2011 and Brazil in 2010). If the 2013 winner is not one of those three countries, it will be the first time in World League history that four consecutive years have produced four different winners.
> Brazil has won the most titles with nine, followed by Italy with eight. Russia is the only other country to have won the World League multiple times, claiming the title in 2002 and 2011.
> Brazil has won seven of the last 10 World League titles but finished only sixth last year. It was the first time Brazil had failed to finish fifth or higher in the World League.
> 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 and Russia are tied for second with 13 World League podiums. Based on recent results, Russia would appear the most likely to make it 14 podiums in 2013, behind only Brazil (currently 16).
> Russia's eighth place finish last year broke a string of six consecutive podium finishes from 2006-11.
> Iran is the only country making its World League debut in 2013. The Iranians are in Pool B and will play their first World League match against Russia on 7 June in Kaliningrad.
> For the first time, 18 countries will participate in the World League, in a three pool system.
Weekend 1: May 31 – June 2
FINLAND v PORTUGAL
> This is Finland's ninth appearance in the World League and eighth in succession. Before 2006, Finland's only appearance had come in 1993.
> Finland has finished in the top 10 in five of the last seven years, with a best result of seventh in 2007. Last year, the Finns came 13th, winning three of their 12 matches.
> Finland has an overall record of 35-69 in 104 World League matches.
> Finland lies in 18th place in World League victories, one place ahead of its first-up opponent Portugal.
> This is Portugal's 10th appearance in the World League, having debuted in 1999.
> Portugal's standout tournament was in 2005, when it came fifth. It is the only time Portugal has finished higher than 10th.
> Last year, the Portuguese finished 16th, losing all 12 of their matches and only winning seven of their 43 sets. The closest they came to an elusive victory was in their final match against Argentina, when they fell in five sets.
> Portugal's overall World League record is 23-85.
> This is the third time Finland and Portugal have been drawn in the same pool after 2006 and 2011. Finland holds a 5-3 advantage.
> Seven of the eight encounters, including all four in 2011, were won by the home team. The only away victory in matches between these two sides was Finland's 3-2 win on 23 July 2006.
> Four of the eight matches have gone to a deciding set, resulting in two wins for each country.
> In three of the four matches that have gone to a fifth set, the team that lost the first set came back to win the match.
CANADA v NETHERLANDS
> This is Canada's seventh appearance in the World League. In 75 matches, Canada has a win-loss record of 21-54.
> Canada's best performance in the World League was a seventh-place finish in the third edition of the tournament in 1992. Canada finished 12th in last year's tournament, winning three of its 12 matches.
> Canada has won 98 total sets in World League play. If Canada wins two or more sets against the Netherlands, it will become the 20th country to win 100 sets in World League history (counting Serbia and Serbia and Montenegro only once).
> This is the Netherlands' 17th appearance in the World League. In 243 previous matches, the Netherlands have a record of 132-111, making it the only team in Pool C with a positive win-loss record.
> The Netherlands' 132 wins in World League play is fifth on the all-time list. Brazil (294), Italy (252), Russia (214) and Cuba (209) are the four countries with more wins than the Netherlands. Bulgaria sits in sixth place on 127 wins, five wins behind the Netherlands.
> The Netherlands is one of seven countries to have won the World League, triumphing in 1996. The Netherlands has three podium finishes in the World League, but none since 1998.
> This is the Netherlands' first World League participation since 2010, when the Dutch team came 11th.
> This is the first meeting between Canada and the Netherlands in World League play this century. Their last head-to-head matchup took place on 27 June 1999 and was won 3-0 by Canada.
> The two teams have played 12 matches against each other in the World League, with the Netherlands winning eight and Canada winning four. However, Canada won three of the last four matches played between the countries, all in 1999.
> In the 12 head-to-head matches, the Netherlands has won 25 sets while Canada has won 19.
> Only two of the 12 matches went to five sets – both won by the Netherlands.
KOREA v JAPAN
> Korea is making its 15th World League appearance. Korea's win-loss record in the tournament is 41-143.
> Korea's best result in the World League was a sixth-place finish in 1995. Korea finished 14th out of 16 teams in last year's tournament.
> The team's last top-10 finish in the World League came in 2007, when Korea finished ninth.
> Korea's only win in last year's tournament came against Italy, a match in which the Koreans rallied from two sets to love down to win 15-11 in the final set.
> Japan is making its 20th appearance in the World League, fourth among all countries. Only Brazil (24), Italy (24) and Cuba (23) have participated in the tournament more often (numbers include 2013).
> Japan has played in every edition except 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2010, with an overall record of 55-187.
> Japan's best World League result is sixth, which it achieved three times – 1990, 1993 and 2008. Japan has come 15th out of 16 teams in each of the last two years.
> Japan has lost more matches (187) in the World League than any other country. Korea is second in this category with 143 losses.
> Japan has lost 615 sets in World League play, more than any other country. Cuba is second in this category with 530 sets lost.
> Korea and Japan have played eight times in the World League, all in 1991 and 1995. Korea owns a 5-3 advantage in head-to-head play. They also played two World League qualifiers in 2011, both won by Korea.
> Seven of the eight matches between the teams in the main tournament have been won by the home team, which is Korea in this first meeting of 2013.
> Half of the eight matches have been won in straight sets (two wins each), while only one of the eight has gone the distance. That was the first World League meeting between the two on 25 May 1991, which Japan won by a score of 16-14 in the fifth set.
> The most lopsided set between the two countries in World League play came on 24 June 1995, when Korea won the third set 15-1 en route to a three-sets-to-one victory.