Poland looking to extend run against Brazil
The host country starts its bid for a second consecutive title with a seven-match World League winning streak and has a 118-86 record in 204 matches in the tournament. Brazil the most successful country in World League’s history, holds the record for the most titles (nine), most podiums (16), most match wins (294) and most sets won (966).
Six of the 27 World League matches between Brazil and Poland have gone to five sets. Brazil won the first of the six five-set matches, but Poland has won the last five (all in 2002 and 2012.)
The first Pool B match of the 2013 World League, between Russia and Iran, will take place at 18:00 in Kaliningrad at the SK Yantarny Hall.
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.
POLAND v BRAZIL
> Poland is the only country to have finished on the podium in each of the last two years. However, these are Poland's only two podiums in World League play, the fewest among the seven countries to have won the tournament. The Netherlands has the next fewest with three podiums.
> Poland has a 118-86 record in 204 World League matches.
> Poland enters this match on a seven-match World League winning streak. In 2012, Poland won 14 of its 16 matches in this tournament.
> Brazil is the most successful country in World League history. The Brazilians hold the record for most titles (nine), most podiums (16), most match wins (294) and most sets won (966).
> Brazil is one of only two countries to have participated in all 24 editions of the World League. The other is Italy.
> Brazil has won the title in eight of the last 12 years, including a record five in a row from 2003-07.
> This is the sixth year in which Brazil has been drawn in the same group with a team that has previously won the World League. The last time that happened was 2011 when Brazil and the USA (who won the title in 2008) were in the same group.
> Poland's last World League loss, on 10 June last year, was a 3-1 setback to Brazil. However, that was the only one of the five matches played between the countries in World League play last year that Brazil won.
> Poland's four wins over Brazil in 2012 doubled its win total against the South Americans in World League play. Overall, Brazil holds a 19-8 advantage in head-to-head matchups.
> From 2007-11, Brazil won eight straight World League matches against Poland.
> Six of the 27 World League matches between Brazil and Poland have gone to five sets. Brazil won the first of these five-set matches, but Poland has won the last five (all in 2002 and 2012).
USA v Argentina
> Three of the USA's four World League podiums have come in the last six years, including a second-place finish to Poland last year.
> In 16 matches in the World League last year, the USA had an 11-5 record, including a stretch of seven straight victories in the group stage.
> The USA has a record of 43-17 in 60 World League group stage matches in the last five years.
> Argentina has won 298 sets in World League play. If it takes two sets off the USA this weekend, Argentina will become the 11th country to win 300 sets in the World League.
> Argentina can become the third country from the Americas to defeat the USA in World League play, joining Brazil (24 victories against the USA) and Cuba (two victories against the USA).
> Argentina has fared well away from home in the World League in the last two years, with an 8-4 record in 12 road matches.
> This is the first time the USA and Argentina have met in the World League, despite both teams having played a combined 399 World League matches prior to this weekend.
> The teams have met four times at the Olympic Games, all from 1984-2000. The USA holds a 3-1 edge in those contests.
> Since Argentina won the fourth of those Olympic contests at Sydney 2000, the USA has won its last three matches against Argentina in all competitions. The most recent of those was a 3-2 victory at the World Cup in Tokyo in 2011.
France v Bulgaria
> France is appearing in its 18th World League, with a best finish of second in 2006.
> Last year, France finished seventh in the World League despite posting a 9-3 record in the group stage. Its only losses in 2012 were to former champions the USA (twice) and Italy (once).
> France has a 105-116 record in World League play. Of the nine countries with at least 100 wins in the World League, France is the only one with a winning percentage of less than 50%.
> France and Serbia / Serbia and Montenegro are the only countries to have finished second in the World League at least once and to never have won it.
> Bulgaria is making its 16th appearance in the World League.
> Despite never making the World League podium, Bulgaria has finished either fourth or fifth on nine different occasions.
> Last year, Bulgaria came fourth in the World League, falling to Cuba in five sets in the bronze medal match to just miss out on what would have been its first World League medal.
> Bulgaria has a 127-87 record in World League play. The 127 victories put Bulgaria in sixth place on the all-time wins list.
> Bulgaria and France are the only two countries to have won at least 100 matches in the World League without having ever won the title.
> Bulgaria and France have played nine times in the World League, with France holding a 5-4 edge. All nine matches were played from 2004-06.
> All four of Bulgaria's wins over France in the World League have come in straight sets. The three five-set matches the teams have played in the World League were all won by France.
> They have played three times since their last World League encounter, with Bulgaria holding a 2-1 edge in those matches.
RUSSIA v IRAN
> Russia has won the World League twice (2002 and 2011), making it one of only three countries to have won it multiple times along with Brazil (nine times) and Italy (eight times).
> Russia has won 214 World League matches, behind only Brazil (294) and Italy (252). That figure rises to 243 victories by including 20 wins by the Soviet Union (1990-91) and nine by the Commonwealth of Independent States (1992).
> Russia's eighth place finish was its worst ever performance in the World League. Russia had been on the podium in each of the six previous tournaments from 2006-11.
> The second match of this two-match set will be Russia's 300th in World League play (not including URS/CIS). Only Brazil, Italy and Cuba have played more matches.
> This is Iran's first ever match in the World League. Iran is the only debutant in this year's tournament.
> Iran won gold in the 2011 Asian championships after taking silver in the previous edition in 2009.
> Iran finished 19th at the 2010 world championship, an improvement from 21st in 2006.
> Russia and Iran have only played once before, with the Russians claiming a 3-0 victory in the 2011 World Cup in Tokyo.
> Iran was competitive in that match, taking the first set to 31-29 before falling 25-21 and 25-18 in the next two sets.
ITALY v GERMANY
> Italy is one of only two countries to have competed in all 24 editions of the World League. The other is Brazil.
> Italy has won the World League title eight times, one short of Brazil's record of nine. However, Italy's last title came in 2000 and its last podium (second place) came in 2004.
> Last year, Italy finished 11th with a 5-7 record, the first time it failed to make the top 10 in World League history.
> In its first 15 World League appearances, Italy finished in the top four every time. In its last eight appearances, Italy has finished sixth or worse every time.
> This is Germany's 10th appearance in the World League. Overall, Germany has a 43-75 win-loss record.
> Germany finished fifth in last year's tournament, easily its best ever performance. Germany's previous best result was eighth in 1993.
> Including the final round, Germany was 11-3 in last year's World League, including a six-match winning streak to end the group stage. All three losses were at the hands of Bulgaria.
> Germany's 43 World League wins are tied for 15th place with Korea and Greece, one behind 14th-placed China (counting Serbia and Serbia and Montenegro, who both have more than 44 wins, as one country). With Greece and China not participating in this year's World League, Germany could move up the all-time win list this weekend.
> Italy and Germany have only played four times in the World League, splitting their four meetings in the 2003 group phase.
> All four previous World League matches between these two teams have been decided in four sets.
> Since their last World League encounter, Italy has won all five matches between the sides, most recently at the 2012 Olympic Qualification Tournament.
CUBA v SERBIA
> Cuba is making its 23rd consecutive appearance in the World League. The only edition Cuba did not participate in was the first one in 1990.
> This year, Cuba can join Brazil (16), Russia (13) and Italy (13) as the only countries with 10 or more podium finishes in the World League. Cuba currently sits on nine.
> Cuba finished third in the World League last year, returning to the podium after a six-year absence.
> Cuba has won 748 sets in World League play. If it wins two sets against Serbia this weekend Cuba will become the third country to reach 750 sets won, after Brazil (966 entering this weekend) and Italy (866 entering this weekend).
> As both Serbia and Montenegro (87) and now Serbia (52), this team has won 139 World League matches, behind only Brazil, Italy, Russia and Cuba.
> Since competing just as Serbia (from 2007 on), it has been feast or famine in the World League: Serbia has finished in the top three in three of its six appearances, but has come ninth in the other three appearances, including both of the last two years.
> If Serbia sweeps the two matches this weekend, it will tie Spain with 54 World League victories as an independent country.
> By sweeping Cuba, Serbia would also reach 200 sets won in World League play as an independent country, becoming the 16th team to do so. Serbia currently sits on 194 sets won.
> This is the 19th World League meeting between Cuba and either Serbia or Serbia and Montenegro. The Europeans hold a 12-6 edge, though it is 5-5 since Serbia began competing as an independent country.
> This is the second straight year that Cuba and Serbia have been in the same group. After Serbia took the first game between the teams last year, Cuba won the last three.
> In their four World League meetings last year, Serbia won a different number of sets in each match: three, then zero, then one, then two.
> In recent years, Serbia has twice thwarted Cuba in the final round of the World League, triumphing in the semifinals in 2009 and in the bronze medal match in 2010.
Canada v Portugal
> Canada split its two-game series against the Netherlands last weekend, winning the first match in four sets but losing the second match, also in four sets.
> Canada has won 22 matches in World League play. If the Canadians take both games against Portugal this weekend, Canada will equal the Portuguese on 24 World League wins.
> A two-game sweep would also see Canada match its 2012 total of three World League wins.
> For the second consecutive week, Canada will play an opponent ranked equal 36th in the world. Canada is ranked 18th.
> After being defeated in straight sets in its opening World League clash with Finland last Friday, Portugal rebounded to win the second match in five sets on Saturday.
> Saturday's win snapped a 20-match World League losing streak for Portugal, stretching back to the 2011 tournament. Portugal's last victory prior to the win over Finland was against Serbia on 10 June 2011.
> Portugal has already exceeded its win total from last year's World League, when it went 0-12. If the Portuguese win both matches this weekend, they will match their 2011 World League total of three wins.
> Portugal's Valdir Sequeira was the second highest scorer on the opening weekend of the 2013 World League, tallying 41 points. Only Wytze Kooistra (NED) had more with 49 points.
> These are the first meetings between Canada and Portugal in the World League or in any other high level competition.
Korea v Finland
> Korea is the only undefeated team in the 2013 World League after sweeping two games from Japan last weekend. Pools A and B begin play this weekend.
> The first victory over Japan last weekend snapped Korea's nine-game home losing streak in the World League, which stretched back to 2011. Now, Korea looks to extend its home winning streak to three matches, and potentially four, as it prepares to take on Finland.
> Korea's Kwang-In Jeon was the best spiker on the opening weekend of the 2013 World League with a 59.32% success rate.
> Korea also had the two most efficient receivers in Pool C last weekend. Kang-Joo Lee and Seung-Suk Kwak were both over 70% while no other player from any country was higher than 60%.
> Finland won its opening match of the 2013 World League against Portugal in straight sets last Friday before falling in five sets in the return match on Saturday.
> With a 1-1 record after two matches, Finland has a chance to be 2-2 or even 3-1 after this weekend for the first time since 2006 (3-1). In each of the last six years, Finland has been 0-4 or 1-3 after its first four World League matches.
> Finland's Mikko Oivanen had seven stuff blocks in eight sets against Portugal last weekend, equal most in the tournament with Canada's Adam Simac.
> Korea and Finland have met eight times in the group stages of the World League, all in 1993 and 2007.
> Korea won its first three World League matches against Finland – all in straight sets – but the Finns have won the last five, including a sweep of the four matches between the sides in 2007.
> Their only other meeting outside the World League was at the 1982 world championships, when Korea triumphed in four sets.
Netherlands v Japan
> After losing its opening match to Canada last Friday, the Netherlands rebounded to win the second match on Saturday and even its record at 1-1.
> Wytze Kooistra was the top scorer on the opening weekend of the World League, tallying 49 points in the two matches against Canada.
> Gijs Jorna was the second most prolific digger in Pool C last weekend with 19, behind only Finland's Juho Rajala (21).
> The Dutch have an impressive 30-3 record against Asian countries in the World League (this includes matches against Japan, Korea and China).
> Japan finds itself at the bottom of Pool C after losing both matches to Korea last weekend.
> Japan has now lost 20 consecutive World League matches dating back to the 2011 tournament. Japan's last win in this event came against Germany on 12 June 2011.
> Yu Koshikawa was the second best spiker in the Pool C matches last weekend with a 57.5% success rate.
> Despite dropping both matches last weekend, Japan recorded the most dominant set of the opening weekend of the 2013 World League, winning 25-11 in the third set of the second match against Korea.
> The two matches will be played on the 8th and 9th of June. Historically, Japan is 0-4 on the 8th of June and 1-5 on the 9th of June in World League play. Its only victory on either of these dates came on 9 June 1990 against China.
> Japan and the Netherlands have not played against each other in the World League since playing four matches in the first edition in 1990.
> The Netherlands won all four matches in straight sets.
> Since then, they have played four matches against each other, but none since 1997, with the Netherlands again claiming all four victories.
> In all competitions, the Netherlands have won nine straight matches against Japan, eight of which were in straight sets. The last time Japan defeated the Netherlands was at the 1974 world championships.