World League 2004 Press & News WEEK 3 (18-20 June)  
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WRAP UP
Six teams in race for Final Round

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 20, 2004 – Six of the 12 teams in the 2004 World League remain in serious contention for the three vacancies in the Final Round with hosts Italy following the completion of week three of the six-week long Intercontinental Round on Sunday.

Pic: France and Bulgaria are in a tight race to win Pool B
Week three saw in Pool A, defending World League champions Brazil collect two 3-0 wins over Portugal, while Greece beat Spain 3-1, 3-0. In Pool B, France and Bulgaria split their matches 0-3, 3-1, while Poland kept Japan winless without conceding a set. Pool C saw Italy beat China 3-0, 3-1 and Serbia and Montenegro beat Cuba by the same score line.

At the halfway stage (six of 12 matches) of the Intercontinental Round, Brazil, with six wins, have made a break in Pool A on Greece (four wins) while Spain and Portugal, who have one win apiece, are struggling to remain in contention.

Pool B features a fascinating race for the top spot between Poland, France and Bulgaria, who have five, four and three victories respectively, while Japan are still to record a victory.

With Italy, who lead Pool C with five wins, already qualified for the four-team Final Round, Olympic champions Serbia and Montenegro (four wins) must finish ahead of Cuba (two wins) and China (one win) to qualify for the next phase.

"At this stage of the tournament I am very satisfied with our results and the approach we had this weekend,” said coach of Serbia and Montenegro Ljubomir Travica. “We must play the remaining matches with the same approach and improve our form to reach the finals. The new approach should be the new character of our play, as there must be no falls. We must play to the fullest however good or bad we play."

The remaining three weeks promises to be an exciting run home to the Final Round with two matches each weekend until the final weekend on July 9-11.

The best classified team from each pool joins hosts Italy in the World League Final Round from July 16-18.
 
PREVIEW
Week Three opens with crunch Pool B clash

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 18, 2004 – Two key Pool B matches between France and Bulgaria in Nancy highlight Week 3 of the 2004 World League when the FIVB’s premier international men’s Volleyball tournament continues on Friday.

After two weeks of the six-week Intercontinental Round, the competition amongst the four teams in each of the three pools is fierce. The best classified team from each pool in the Intercontinental Round will join hosts Italy for the four-team World League Final Round in July.

Pic: Serbia and Montenegro are hoping to collect two wins against Cuba.
In Pool B, France, with three wins from four matches, is equal with Poland on seven points in first place, while Bulgaria have six points from two wins and two defeats. This weekend’s matches between France and Bulgaria (the first at 17:00 GMT on Friday and the second on Saturday at 16:00 GMT) are crucial in the race for top spot in the pool. The two sides played each other in the first week on action in Bulgaria with France winning the first match 3-2, before Bulgaria claimed the second 3-0.

In Friday’s other matches, current Pool C leaders Italy will be looking to repeat their first weekend result of two wins against China, when they play the first of two matches in Shanghai at 11:45 GMT. While last year’s World League runner’s up Serbia and Montenegro will play their 100th World League match when they play Cuba in Beograd at 15:30 GMT.

Sitting one point behind Italy and equal with Cuba with two wins and two defeats, Serbia and Montenegro are eager for two victories to stay in contention for the World League Final Round, having dropped matches against China and Cuba in earlier rounds. Overall in the World League, the Blue Team has won 60 times against 39 defeats and this weekend, they would like to improve that record further.

“Two victories in matches against Cuba are of utmost importance for us,” coach of Serbia and Montenegro Ljuba Travica said. “We have to do our best, triumph both times and wait for the final result in the intercontinental round. We have complicated the situation for us in relation to the final tournament and now we have no choice but to win both times, as that is how we can go to Rome.”

Completing the action on Friday sees Poland host Japan in Pool B in Katowice at 16:50 GMT while in Valencia, Spain take on Greece in a Pool A match starting at 18:00 GMT.

The defending champions and unbeaten Pool A leaders Brazil play their first match on Saturday against Portugal in Campo Grande starting at 14:00 GMT.

With $13m in prize money the World League is the richest and most significant annual FIVB tournament. The Intercontinental Round finishes on July 11 and is followed by the World League Final Round from July 16-18 in Rome, Italy.