A World League Finals battle of Olympic proportions
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 21, 2013 – The FIVB World League Finals will mimic the London Olympics, as the teams who battled for gold and bronze in 2012 will meet again for World League titles on Sunday. Italy and Bulgaria will compete in the battle for third place; while World League winners of 2010 (Brazil) and 2011 (Russia) will vie for the 2013 World League gold medal in Mar de Plata, Argentina.Italy v Bulgaria - July 21, 2013 – 19.30 (GMT) / 16:30 (local time)
Just like the 2012 Olympic Games, Italy and Bulgaria will fight for a third place finish at the 2013 FIVB World League. Bulgaria, however, will try to prevent a replay of the Olympic match, where they lost to Italy 3-1. The matchup will be the 19th time the two countries have met in the World League. Italy have a narrow edge in the meetings, with 10 wins compared to eight for Bulgaria.
Bulgaria’s top scorer and captain Todor Aleksiev stressed his anguish after losing another semifinal against No. 1 Brazil in the semifinals Saturday, 3-1. Bulgaria have participated in four World League semifinals and six overall and lost them all. Despite a 3-1 defeat against Russia in the semifinals Saturday, Italy’s coach Mauro Berruto, however, is still very positive about his team's performance. Despite missing out of the final, Italy have ensured their first top-four finish in the World League since 2004, when they finished second. If Bulgaria wins bronze, it will be their best-ever result in FIVB World League play.
Russia v Brazil - July 21, 2013 – 23.00 (GMT) / 20:00 (local time)
Brazil, who have competed in more World League Finals than any other country (13), will also seek to overturn their 2012 Olympic results, where they lost to Russia 3-2. Russia have won their last two matches against Brazil. If Russia win on Sunday, they could make it three straight for the second time ever, and be reigning Olympic and World League champions for the first time.
The top two ranked teams in the world are both coming off strong wins in the semifinals, where Brazil beat Bulgaria 3-1 and Russia defeated Italy 3-1. The gold medal match will be the sixth meeting in the FIVB World League Finals match. In 1993, 2007 and 2010, Brazil beat Russia; in 2002 and 2011, it was the other way around.
WORLD LEAGUE FINALS – DAY 5 – STATISTICS
Italy v Bulgaria
-In their semifinal match against Russia, Italy could only manage to compile 81 total points. This was not enough to reach the final of this year’s World League: 1-3.
-After having been the most dominant force in men’s volleyball in the 1990s, winning eight of the first 11 World Leagues, Italy have not won the tournament since 2000. Despite missing out of the final, Italy have ensured their first top-four finish in the World League since 2004, when they finished second. Italy's best finish in the last eight years is sixth (2006, 2010, 2011).
-A pattern: Italy always play (and win) the World League bronze medal match in years ending in '3'. They beat Cuba in 1993 and Czech Republic in 2003, and they face Bulgaria in 2013. (They also played for bronze in 2002, but lost to Yugoslavia.)
-Italy have won 898 sets in the World League. They could become the second team with 900, after Brazil (1,002).
-Bulgaria’s run for gold was stopped by a dominant Brazil side, which allowed only 70 points in a 3-1 win over the Bulgarians.
-Bulgaria played their fifth semifinal in the World League, and they lost for the fifth time. On the past four occasions (1994, 2004, 2006, 2012), they finished the season in fourth place.
-Bulgaria now have the chance to set their best ever result in World League play. They never finished higher than fourth place.
-Bulgaria will compete in their eighth World League Final Round match against Italy, the most they played against of any opponent in the decisive stages.
• Just like the final, the 3rd place playoff is a replay of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Back then, Italy beat Bulgaria 3-1.
Russia v Brazil
-Brazil have reached their 13th World League final, the highest number of all countries in the history of the tournament. They made the final in 11 of the last 13 seasons (incl. 2013).
-Brazil have won eight of the past 12 World Leagues. However, they did not win the last two.
-Brazil could become the first team with double-digit World League wins. They have won it nine times, with Italy (8) and Russia (2) as the only other two with multiple victories.
-By reaching the final, Brazil avoided back-to-back final-less years. Two missed finals in a row - this has not happened to Brazil since 1999-2000.
-Against Bulgaria, Brazil became the first country to reach 1,000 sets won in World League play (1,002 to be exact). No other country has reached 900, however Italy (currently 898) can reach this number in their 3rd place playoff match against Bulgaria.
-Brazil have played the most matches of all countries in the World League (388), but they have lost the fewest (83) of all teams with more than 140 encounters.
-Russia held Italy to only 81 points in the semifinal and advanced with a 3-1 victory.
-This was Russia’s fifth straight win against Italy in World League Finals. Last loss - July, 2000.
-Russia have reached the final for the eighth time in the World League. They have won only two of the previous seven (2002, 2011). Five lost finals has been precedented only by Cuba (also 5). A defeat against Russia will make them outright leaders in this category.
-In all four previous finals Russia competed, Brazil have been their opponents. This year will make it five in a row.
-If Russia win, they will be reigning Olympic and World League champions for the first time.
• The World League winners of 2010 (Brazil) and 2011 (Russia) will meet in this year’s final.
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