Clash of the titans in World League Week Two
The last time Brazil and Poland faced off, the world No. 1 and nine-time World League champions won 3-2 (18-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19, 15-12) during the 2011 World Cup |
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 5, 2013 - After the warm-up, the big favourites join the action on the second weekend of the FIVB Volleyball World League. The highlight will undoubtedly be the “clash of the titans” between defending champions Poland and Brazil, who have won a record number of World League titles.
The South American ball wizards, ranked No. 1 in the world, are hungry for revenge after finishing sixth last year – their worst result in the history of the competition. And they come into the weekend in top form, having defeated Russia 3-1 in two World League warm-up matches in a repeat of the Olympic final in London last year. Among the spectators impressed by the Brazilians performance was FIVB President, Dr. Ary S. Graça F°.
“We are now at full strength to begin the World League. The team is focused, well-structured and we are creating a game format with the new cycle that begins now,” said Dante, emphasising the Brazilian team’s long-term goals. However, they face a tough test in the opening match of Group A, in the form of world No. 4 Poland. The team, which features top spiker Bartosz Kurek, experienced both highs and the lows in its recent friendly matches against Serbia, which ended with a 3-1 victory and a 3-1 defeat. Coach Andrea Anastasi is optimistic ahead of the games in Warsaw on Friday (17:45 local time) and Lodz on Sunday (20:15 local time): “We can achieve great things with our fans behind us.”
Another exciting duel on the first weekend in Pool A sees last year’s finalists USA take on Argentina in Wichita (Friday and Saturday at 19:00 local time). As organisers, the hosts are already qualified for the World League Finals, in which the top six teams go head to head in Mar del Plata from July 17 to 21, and were in dazzling form during their friendly victories against dark horse Cuba. France, who beat Italy in two warm-up games, and Bulgaria also face off in Group A this weekend.
Olympic champions and world No. 2 Russia begin their quest for overall victory of the 24th staging of the World League with two matches against debutant Iran in Group B.
Star coach Julio Velasco’s team goes into the games in Kaliningrad (Friday and Saturday 18:00 local time) as the rank outsider. The duels between Cuba and Serbia in Havana could potentially be much closer affairs (Friday and Saturday 20:40 local time). For eight-time World League champions Italy and last year’s surprise package Germany, this season is all about rebuilding, and the two teams kick off their campaigns against each other in Modena (Friday 20:30) and Turin (Sunday 18:00). The hosts are without stars Samuel Papi, Luigi Mastrangelo and Alessandro Fei, while the Germans rest superstar Gyorgy Grozer.
Group C, which kicked off the World League last weekend, enters its second round. The only team to win both matches on the opening weekend, Korea, welcomes Finland to Suwon (Saturday and Sunday 14:00 local time). The winless Japanese travel to Holland, where they face a tricky match against the Netherlands, who split their matches last weekend against Canada, who also take on Portugal in Pool C, in which only the winners progress to the Finals. In the other groups, the top two qualify for the grand finale.
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