- This will be the 61st match for the Macedonian volleyball players in 7m seasons of the CEV European league, before and after the "silver" era. Team MKD has won 41 matches, and lost 19.
- This is the seventh semifinal for the Macedonian team in the CEV European League, the current balance is 4-2, wins against Estonia, Austria (2016), Denmark (2017) and Croatia (2021), and defeats by Montenegro (2014) and Croatia (2018).
- The Macedonian national team won four silver medals, the last one last year at home court in Strumica, and has one bronze. Since the maiden appearance in 2014, the red-yellows only once failed to be on the pedestal (they finished 4th in 2018).
- The Macedonian team played twice against Finland at CEV EuroVolley in 2019 in Ljubljana and in 2021 in Tampere. The Finns were better after four sets, so the team led by captain Nikola Gjorgjiev wants a rematch for those two losses.
- Compared to the previous duel last year at the continental summit, the Macedonian team has two new opposite hitters, and the Finns only kept the players in that position and changed all others from the first line-up.
- All Time
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FINLAND defeat NORTH MACEDONIA to play for the Silver #EuroLeagueM title
The battle between Finland and North Macedonia opened the rivalry in the CEV Volleyball European European Silver League - Men in Budapest. Finland prevailed and proved better on block (14-7), but the player who made a difference was a 23-year-old Aaro Nikula, who was an ace drawn out of coach Joel Banks' sleeve. On Sunday, Finland will play in the gold medal match, once North Macedonia will battle for bronze.
Runners-up of the 2021 Silver League, North Macedonia opened the match with more confidence, quickly taking a lead 8-5 and improving it to 13-9. Once they thought that the situation is under control, Finland woke up, making block their main asset (5 winning blocks). The team under the guidance of the coach Joel Banks not only caught up the score (14-14), but stepped up front, being led by Jiri Hanninen (8 points) and Joonas Jokala (7 points, including 3 block stuffs) who closed the set.
North Macedonia quickly shook it off, they learnt their lesson from the first set and after taking an early lead they didn't let Finland to come closer than two points. Although they struggled in reception (24%), this time block became North Macedonia's weapon (4 points in this skill). Captain Nikola Gjorgiev and Luka Kostikj were the most prominent players, delivering their team 6 and 5 points, respectively.
The third set delivered another unexpected twist. After a very competitive beginning, Finland jumped to a 16-10 lead. Even if Gjorgiev scored as many as nine points, his teammates were not able to step in, once Finland played flawlessly. Aaro Nikula, who came as a substitute in the previous set, in the 3rd part, became the best scorer of Finland (8 points), recording 100% of success in attack - 6 out of 6 - he also added one block and one ace to his name. Joel Banks' team didn't look back and took a 2-1 lead in the match.
Being only a step from a spot in the final, Finland was motivated to complete their mission in the fourth set. They reached the maximum advantage of seven points at 15-8 and although North Macedonia tried to shorten the distance, the Finnish team sealed the victory 25-16 after Nikula's spike.
23-year-old Nikula became the best scorer of Finland with 17 points to his name and 94% success in attack (15 kills). However, the top scorer of the match honour went to Nikola Gjorgiev, who tallied 23 points.
The match in numbers
The combined total number of points scored by both teams throughout the entire match.
The total length of the match, from the first serve through until the last point has ended.
Total number of people in attendance at the venue – taken at the end of the second set.
The combined total number of successful spikes achieved by both teams throughout the entire match.
An average of the two team service reception percentages from the complete match.
The number of successful point winning blocks of FINLAND compared to NORTH MACEDONIA.
FINLAND number of service aces compared to NORTH MACEDONIA
Errors leading to points of FINLAND, next to those from NORTH MACEDONIA