World League 2005 News
 
Can Brazil make it three in a row?

Lausanne, Switzerland, May 25, 2005 – They already have the 2002 World Championship crown, the 2003 World Cup and the 2004 Olympic gold medal in their trophy cabinet, now the world’s number men’s team Brazil will launch their campaign for their third successive World League triumph when the opening whistle blows on Friday to open the 16th edition of the FIVB’s premier annual event.
Pic: Brazil on the World League winner's podium in 2004
In just two days time 12 teams from around the world will face off in the first of six high intensity weekends of Intercontinental Round action. With three pools of four teams playing home and away during, the top team from each pool will advance to the final round in Belgrade from July 8-10 joining automatic qualifiers as hosts Serbia and Montenegro.

With Russia being the last team to beat Brazil in a final of a FIVB international men's event (the 2002 World League) the defending champions are once again the team to beat and start their campaign with a visit to world number 13 Venezuela who return to the top flight after missing last year’s competition. Brazilian coach Bernardo Rezende will be hoping the loss of his inspirational captains Nalbert and Giovane won’t affect his side’s chances too much while everyone waits to see who the latest sensational Brazilian talent will be. Venezuela, with new coach Eliseo Ramos, are aiming to improve on their previous best finish of 13th which they recorded in each World League edition from 2001-2003.

Portugal and Japan complete Pool A and both sides are also looking for substantial improvement. Under new coach Orlando Samuels, Portugal will be striving for better than their three-win, nine-defeat record of last year while Japan failed to win a single match.

Pool B is headed by last year’s runner’s up and Olympic silver medalists Italy who are still in search for the formula to overcome Brazil, a side they have finished second to more times than they would like to think of recently. 2005 signals a new beginning for coach Gianpaolo Montali with big names Andrea Giani, Samuele Papi, who is on a year’s sabbatical, Andrea Sartoretti and Damiano Pippi all missing. They’ll be definitely after a successful start when they take on France starting on Friday. Les Blues are out to reach the final round for the first time in their history even without regular skipper Dominique Daquin who is taking a year off from international duty.

Bulgaria and Cuba complete Pool B in what is arguably the toughest of the three pools. Bulgaria, who host Cuba this weekend, surprised everyone last year when they reached the final round and there’s no reason why the world number 13 can not do it again. A World League power during the 90’s, Cuba, who have looked very impressive in warm up matches beating Argentina 3-1 and Greece 3-0, have been in a rebuilding phase in recent years but are now one of the most exciting teams on the block with a tremendous blend of youth and agility, paving the way for some invigorating contests.

With Serbia and Montenegro already assured of a final round spot, Pool C will see Poland, Argentina and Greece playing for the fourth and final ticket. An injury-hit Poland side hosts Argentina starting on Friday in what is already a daunting task for new coach Raul Lozano who will face his native country. It’s the first time Poland has named a foreign coach and already he’s gaining a tough reputation.

“My debut in the match against my compatriots will add much more stress for sure,” Lozano said. “But I have already been in this situation while working with the Spanish national team, so, during the national anthem of Argentina I will be moved, but later on, I will be doing my job the best I can.”

It’s a tough group to call with Poland ranked seventh in the world and Greece and Argentina eighth equal but the slight advantage must go to the South Americans, who have already played their 2006 World Championship preliminary round tournament and booked their final round ticket. Greece, who host Serbia and Montenegro on the opening weekend, and Poland will have one eye on their respective World Championship tournaments in July.
 
 
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