Florence all set to host World League Finals
Florence, Italy, July 15, 2014 – Florence is all set for World League action, which starts on Wednesday at 17.30 local time with holders Russia taking on newcomers Iran. Over five exciting days, Brazil, USA, Russia, Italy, Australia and Iran will battle it out.
• The six participants at the FIVB Volleyball World League Group 1 Finals in Florence, Italy come from five different continents: South America (Brazil), Asia (Iran), Europe (Italy and Russia), North America (USA) and Australia and Oceania (Australia).
• Two groups of three (Russia, Brazil, Iran in Group E, USA, Australia and hosts Italy in Group H) will play each other, with the bottom side in each group eliminated. The four remaining teams will contest the semi finals (first place in group E playing second place in group H and vice versa), with the bronze medal match and final taking place on Sunday.
• The competition will be held at the Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, formerly the Palazzetto dell Sport di Firenze and Palasport. The arena has seating for 9,000 people and the games are sold out. The forum has previously hosted rock concerts and the FIVB Men's Volleyball World Championship.
• Florence is the fourth Italian city to host a World League final after Rome, Milan and Genoa. It caps a bumper year for Italy, who also host the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in Rome, Trieste, Verona, Bari, Modena and Milan from September 23 to October 12, and the FIVB Congress in Milan from October 31 to November 1.
• Italy qualified automatically as hosts, but still topped their qualifying Pool A ahead of Iran and Brazil. They are however in poor form, having lost their last six fixtures.
• Iran qualified as runners up in Pool A, edging ahead of world No.1 ranked side Brazil to become the one team who didn't have to wait until the last match to see if they'd qualify.
• Australia won their last four World League matches, all in Sydney. They finished 10th without winning a match in their only previous World League appearance in 1999.
• USA narrowly won Pool B, finishing on the same points (24) as Russia but with a better win record. Olympic gold medalists and defending champions Russia finished second and their recent record in big tournaments will make them many people's favourites.