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World League 2002 - Previews & Reviews
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PREVIEW
FIVB $15 Million World League Battle lines drawn for tickets to finals in Brazil

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, July 18 - The shakeout in the FIVB $15 Million World League continues this weekend when the world's best men's Volleyball teams meet for Intercontinental Round Four after upsets last weekend with Poland, Portugal and Greece challenging the giants for tickets to the finals in Brazil (Aug 13-18).
Portugal faces title-holders Brazil for the second time, but flush with confidence after two tight wins against Argentina at home in Round 3. They went down 0-2 in their previous clashes in Portugal and will also have to contend with large crowds of enthusiastic Brazilian supporters.
Poland meets Argentina in Lodz on Friday and Saturday, and although Poland has only two victories from six matches so far, their 3-0 whipping of Brazil last weekend has lifted morale. Polish coach Waldemar Wspanialy is a little concerned that he team only has three days to recover from jetlag after their trip to South America, but says his side is improving every weekend.
In Pool B group leader Spain and Italy both travel to met opponents China and Venezuela, but should sail through the weekend ties without difficulty. Pool C is much less clear-cut. Table leader Russia should have no problems against a reshaped Cuba, but the tie between European rivals Netherlands and Germany is likely to produce some excellent Volleyball.
After two victories against Japan last weekend, Olympic champions Yugoslavia go to Greece with a record of 1-1 after their first Pool D tie with that team two weeks ago, but this time they are reinforced by the return of Vanja Grbic, now back from injury. Greece's victory against France has shored up their confidence and should guarantee top matches this weekend. Meanwhile, France could waltz through this round against the luckless Japan, still coming to terms with six defeats so far.
The World League is the richest volleyball competition in the world and is played annually. 
The Intercontinental Round features 16 teams in four pools of four teams and is staged over six consecutive weekends. Each team plays home and away matches against each opponent in their pool with a total of 12 matches per team. In each tie, opposing teams meet twice during the weekend. The top eight teams of the Intercontinental Round qualify for the World League Finals. Last year Brazil defeated Italy in the final, but Italy has dominated in the 13-year history of the tournament by winning 8 of the last 12 titles.

Match Schedule

Friday, July 19
Brazil vs. Portugal (Pool A), Joao Pessoa, GMT 1830, Local 1530
Poland vs. Argentina (Pool A), Lodz, GMT 1700, Local 1900
Venezuela vs. Italy (Pool B), Barquisimeto, GMT 2330, Local 1930
Netherlands vs. Germany (Pool C), Groningen, GMT 1800, Local 2000
France vs. Japan (Pool D), St Brieuc, GMT 1800, Local 2000
Cuba vs. Russia (Pool C), C. Havana, GMT 0040, Local 2040

Saturday, July 20
Brazil vs. Portugal (Pool A), Joao Pessoa, GMT 1300, Local 1000
Poland vs. Argentina (Pool A), Lodz, GMT 1300, Local 1500
China vs. Spain (Pool B), Beijing, GMT 1130, Local 1930
Netherlands vs. Germany (Pool C), Groningen, GMT 1800, Local 2000
France vs. Japan (Pool D), St Brieuc, GMT 1800, Local 2000
Cuba vs. Russia (Pool C), C. Havana, GMT 0040, Local 2040

Sunday, July 21
China vs. Spain (Pool B), Beijing, GMT 1130, Local 1930
Venezuela vs. Italy (Pool B), Cabimas, GMT 2330, Local 1930
Greece vs. Yugoslavia (Pool D), Xanthi, GMT 1800, Local 2100

Monday, July 22
Greece vs. Yugoslavia (Pool D), Xanthi, GMT 1800, Local 2100

Key matches
China vs. Spain (Pool B) - Spain as yet undefeated in the Intercontinental round
Netherlands vs. Germany (Pool C) - will be a closely fought European tie
Cuba vs. Russia (Pool C) - traditional Volleyball rivals
Greece vs. Yugoslavia - battling for second place in Pool D 

Full roundup of weekend's matches on Sunday est. 1930GMT