Lausanne, Switzerland August 4, 2010 – Defending two-time FIVB World Grand Prix champions Brazil are set to host Chinese Taipei, Japan and FIVB World Grand Champions Cup winners Italy in Sao Carlos on the opening weekend of the 18th edition of the competition when it begins on Friday as the remaining eight teams prepare to clash in China and Poland.
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Gdynia will host the opening matches for home side Poland, last year’s bronze medalists Germany, USA and the Dominican Republic while China host the Netherlands, Thailand and Puerto Rico in Chengdu in the first of eight Asian stages.
The highlight of the weekend is set to be the mouth watering clash between Brazil and Italy on Sunday at 12:30 GMT. The European champions last met the Olympic champions in November 2009 at the World Grand Champions Cup in Japan. On that occasion Italy picked up the win, denying the world No. 1 and favourites Brazil the title, and the South Americans, who are in search of their sixth World Grand Prix title in seven years, are well aware of the return of their old rivals on the world stage.
"The Italian team has experienced players in good physical condition and they are technically mature," Brazil coach Ze Roberto said. "I think Italy will be our most difficult opponent in the competition. The Japanese are quick and very technical as well."
Meanwhile, last year’s third-placed team Germany will face off against world No. 4 USA in Poland at 17:15 GMT on Saturday. Germany have been preparing with a set of friendly matches against the Dominican Republic, who they will also face this weekend, both of which they won. USA, ranked No. 4 in the world, however have been training for many months, playing a number of exhibition matches and travelling to China to increase the experience of their younger players.
The main highlight in China looks to be the hosts’ match against 2007 FIVB World Grand Prix winners the Netherlands. The world No. 2 have a new coach in Wang Baoquan and will benefit from the home crowd. But with the visitors narrowly missing out on a medal last year when they finished fourth, they will be desperate to prove they are still one of the top teams in the world.
"These matches are a precious platform for the Chinese team to exercise and prepare for the later matches," Baoquan said. "We will inherit and carry forward the older generation’s tradition of hard-work, arduous struggle and the persistence to strive for success."
FIVB TV will stream live on www.fivb.org one match per day starting with Poland v Germany on Friday at 18:00 GMT, Thailand v China on Saturday at 11:30 GMT and on Sunday, concluding with the match of the round - Brazil v Italy at 12:30 GMT.
The 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix will conclude in Ningbo, China with the Final Round from August 25-29.