World League 2004 Press & News Final Round (16-18 July)  
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Italy and Brazil set early pace

Rome, Italy, July 16, 2004 – The 2004 World League Final Round opened with a blistering start from the hosts Italy and defending champions Brazil when the two star teams won their opening matches against Olympic champions Serbia and Montenegro and Bulgaria respectively in the beautiful Palalottomatica in Rome on Friday.
Pic: Matej Cernic attacks as Italy storm to victory
Italy were in sublime form against a disappointing Serbia and Montenegro side, racing to an early lead before powering to a 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-23) win on the back of some wonderful crowd support in the first match.

With Brazil also beating Bulgaria 3-1 (25-17, 32-30, 18-25, 25-21) in a terrific tussle in the second match, day two of the World League Final Round is set up with two exciting matches on Saturday.

Italy’s win booked them a semifinal showdown with Bulgaria while in a repeat of last year’s thrilling World League final, defending champions Brazil take on Serbia and Montenegro.

The "Blue" team beat Italy four times during the Intercontinental Round as Italian coach Gianpaolo Montali experimented with his lineup. This time however, with his top line up in action, Montali’s men stormed to a comprehensive straight sets win in front of a passionate home crowd.

The atmosphere was electric as Italy’s big guns fired all together with Andrea Sartoretti scoring 17 points, Samuele Papi and Luigi Mastrangelo 11 and Alessandro Fei 9, which included the winning spike.

“We have demonstrated that in the big events we are able to find the motivation and the mentality to beat any opponent,” Italy’s Luigi Mastrangelo said. “But we have to do better in the semifinal match.”

“We know Italy very well but they have definitely studied the matches of the first round of the World League,” Serbia & Montenegro’s top scorer Ivan Miljkovic said. “In the difficult moments of the match we lost concentration and Italy created a lot of problems for us. We have to react in the second game of the competition tomorrow.”

Brazil found the going tough against a stern Bulgarian side, who were unlucky not to take more than the one set off the world champions. It was a contested referee call at the end of the second set which gave Brazil a 2-0 lead.

Saturday’s first match is at 18:30 (local time) with Italy playing Bulgaria while Brazil play Serbia and Montenegro at 21:00.