Tuesday, 2 September 2014
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Brazil set to begin defense of FIVB World League title

Setter Bruno (1) and middle-blocker Lucas are set to start the matches in Uberlandia
Uberlandia, Brazil, June 2 – FIVB World League 2009 champions and reigning FIVB World Champions Brazil are set to begin the defense of its title in the 21st edition of the tournament as the South American team host Bulgaria this Friday and Saturday in the first weekend of the FIVB’s premier annual men´s competition.

Both matches will take place in Uberlandia, which hosts a World League Intercontinental Round for the first time, at the Sabiazinho Gymnasium.

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Brazil and Bulgaria have played each other 70 times with Brazil winning 42 and Bulgaria picking up 28 victories. The last time the two sides met was in Katowice, Poland, during FIVB World League 2007 Final Round which saw Bulgaria come out on top with a 3-2 win.

Following a major reshuffle of the squad that dominated international competitions over the last decade, Brazil achieved good results in 2009, which saw them pick up the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup as well as their eighth World League title.

However, Brazil will not have star players such as libero Sergio, sidelined with an injury to his lower back, as well as middle-blocker Eder, who has a pelvis injury, for the upcoming fixture. Opposite Joao Paulo Tavares also withdrew from the match after twisting his ankle.

"We will not have our best team for the matches in Uberlandia and that is preoccupant, as Bulgaria is probably the strongest rival we are going to have in the Pools Round,” Bernardo Rezende, Brazil coach said. “They played some friendly matches in Argentina and certainly have a better rhythm than us. However, even if we do not have our best players, I can assure everyone we will have an efficient team in court.”
 
According to Brazil’s last practice at the Brazilian Volleyball Development Center in Rio de Janeiro, the South American side is likely to start with Bruno as setter, Theo or Leandro Vissotto, who recovered from a right calf injury, as opposite, Murilo and Thiago Alves as wing-spikers and Sidao and Lucas as middle-blockers, with Sergio’s replacement, Mario Junior, as libero.

Bulgaria, will field a strong team with wing-spiker and FIVB World Club Championships MVP Matey Kaziyski, and Todor Aleksiev, as well as captain and opposite Vladimir Nikolov. The team, coached by Italian Silvano Prandi, is currently ranked 6th in the FIVB world ranking and finished 10th in the World League last year.

As preparation for the competition, Bulgaria played three friendly matches in Argentina. The European side defeated Chile 3-0 and beat Argentina once before losing in the second match.


  

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