May 05, 2003 - Despite having beaten Russia in the 2002 World Championship last October, Brazil will be the underdogs going into the 2003 World League according to one of the World Champion's oldest and most experienced players Giovane Gavio.
Russia are the defending World League champions, after beating Brazil in last year's final, and the No 1 ranked team in the world but Brazil, the world No 2, claimed the World Championship title with a nail-biting 3-2 victory.
However, Giovane believes despite the World Championship success his team can't be favourites.
"Russia is still the biggest team in the world currently in my opinion," the 32-year-old said. "Their team has a lot of top players and a superb coach."
But Russia isn't Brazil's only concern says Giovane, who has just returned to the Brazilian set up after playing for his Italian club side Piemone Volley. He believes Italy and Portugal will also be threats. "Italy comes with a renewed spirit following the appointment of Gian Paolo Montali as their new coach and they are always dangerous. While Portugal is no longer the team which one used to easily beat 3-0 all the time. They have evolved and proved how talented they are with their solid performances in last year's World Championship."
Brazil, who have just beaten the Netherlands 2-1 in a friendly series, are now preparing for two friendly matches in Spain on Monday and Tuesday before attempting to collect only their third World League title in 14 years when their campaign starts on May 23.