Lausanne, Switzerland, May 28, 2003 - Action at its best is guaranteed this weekend when World League super powers Italy host World Champions Brazil in the feature clash of week three of the FIVB $15 million World League Intercontinental Rounds, the world's top annual competition in men's Volleyball.
Italy, with their astonishing World League record of eight titles since the World League started in 1990, take on Brazil on Friday night in Firenze, with the second clash Sunday in Bologna. Brazil was second last year to Russia and last won the title in 2001. In other Pool B action, Portugal meets Germany, who both lost their opening matches last weekend against Italy and Brazil.
In Pool A, defending World League champions Russia return home to host Spain where they are expected to maintain their unbeaten record. Venezuela, who lost to Russia in straight games last weekend, host Poland, who are also yet to win a match in the 2003 edition.
Defending Olympic and European champions Serbia and Montenegro, third last year, play traditional Balkan rivals Bulgaria at home for the first time in Pool C and will be hoping for an improved performance. They came home from the Netherlands last weekend with a win and a humbling loss. "We are not thinking of the imperative of winning, but of the fact that we have to correct all the mistakes made during the second match in Eindhoven," Serbia and Montenegro coach Veselin Vukovic said looking ahead to the two matches in Belgrade and Podgorica. Following their surprise victory in Eindhoven against the Olympic Champions, the Netherlands are at home again this weekend in Rotterdam, against Cuba. Cuba split their matches 1-1 with Bulgaria last weekend.
Pool D started one week earlier in 2003 and start their third matches this weekend. Japan plays at home against Greece after a confidence building win against World Championship bronze medalists France last weekend. France go to Czech Republic, who should also be on their game after defeating Greece in one of their away matches in week two and having showed a steady improvement week by week. They will be difficult to topple at home when well supported by local fans.
All four Pools are in action from Friday to Sunday and can be followed live on www.fivb.org, a one-stop shop for results, match reports, standings, player and coach profiles and much more.