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Crunch time in France

June 17, 2005 – Two big European heavyweights France and Italy square off in Grenoble on Friday night looking to hand the other side the knock out punch in the race for the Final Round.

Both teams are level in Pool B with three wins and three defeats behind leaders Cuba having split their matches in every round of the Intercontinental Round to date, so, either side who does the double this weekend, could seriously hamper their opponent’s chances of reaching the Final Round.
Pic: Italy and France split their matches in round two, both winning 3-0

Italy, last year’s runner’s up, were one of the favourites in the group prior to the start of the tournament, but building new combinations with new players has taken longer than expected for coach Gianpaolo Montali. France is also boasting a new look line up but both sides will be hoping for better than their 1-1 result in round two.

With only three weeks remaining in the Intercontinental Round, Cuba, who take on bottom side Bulgaria this weekend, have a 4-2 record, while Bulgaria, last year’s surprise Final Round competitors, are 2 and 4.

The top side in the group will qualify for the Final Round.
 
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