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Stats point to tight race for last two spots in World League Finals

John Speraw's team have their work cut out for them if they are to beat Brazil twice to secure their spot in the World League Finals in Mar del Plata (Argentina) next week.

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 12, 2013 – There are only two more places left in the World League Finals that are scheduled to take place in Mar del Plata from July 17 to 21.

Hosts Argentina, record nine-time winners Brazil, eight-time champions Italy and the surprise qualifier Canada have already booked their spots in the Finals next week.

In Group A, three of the four top teams from 2012 are still in contention for a place in the Finals: defending champions Poland, last year’s finalists USA and the team that finished fourth last season, Bulgaria. In Pool B, Olympic champions Russia can do no more than sit and watch as Germany look to pull off a smash and grab raid to wrestle the final ticket from the grasps of the volleyball giants at the last possible moment.

In the first pool A match of the weekend, hosts Bulgaria will take on Poland in Varna.

Bulgaria will be hoping to pull off a home win, even though the statistics show that the last six matches between these two teams in the World League have all been won by Poland.

One of these teams will qualify for the Finals in Argentina - that is unless the United States beat Brazil twice (including at least once by a minimum two-set margin) and this doubleheader provides favourable results for USA. If Bulgaria or Poland advance, they will most likely do so as the runners-up in Pool A. The host country Argentina and the winners of Pool B (Germany or Italy) would be their opponents in the Finals.

Brazil and the USA will meet in the second Pool A match of the weekend in Rio de Janeiro.

In their past seven meetings the results have alternated and according to this pattern, Brazil should win the first match and USA the second.  

The United States will, however, need to beat Brazil twice to have a chance of qualifying for the Finals. Besides these two wins, the Bulgaria-Poland doubleheader has to provide favourable results.  If the United States qualify, they will face the winners of Pool B (Italy or Germany) and the host nation Argentina in Mar del Plata.

Brazil on the other hand go into this weekend more comfortable than ever, having already secured a place in the Finals and will win Pool A if they collect at least two points this weekend. If Bulgaria or Poland does not produce the full six points, Brazil need one point, or even none to top Pool A. Last week Brazil became the first nation to win 300 matches in World League history when it beat Bulgaria and is the only country in this year’s World League with just one defeat in the competition.

In the last of the Pool B matches for the Intercontinental Round, Iran will meet Germany at the Azadi Hall in Tehran.

The two countries will meet each other for the first time at World League level and both teams have a balanced record in this year’s competition: four wins, four defeats.

Unlike Iran, who have been eliminated from the Finals, Germany are still in contention due to their three 2-3 losses. Iran are the first debutants in the World League with multiple victories (4) in the World League since the Czech Republic in 2003 (10). To reach the Finals Germany will have to beat Iran with at least a two-set margin in each of the two matches.

For more week 7 stats click here

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