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Velasco's Argentine Seniors' towards a new FIVB World League

Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 21, 2014 - The newly coached by Julio Velasco's Argentine Seniors' will travel this afternoon towards facing France in the first intercontinental round weekend of the FIVB World League 2014 in San Martin, Mendoza at Torito Rodriguez Stadium nearby the capital city of the province.

The team will fly this afternoon at about 16.20 on AR1410 arriving about 18.00 to be hosted at Mod Hotel in Mendoza city. Without rest, they will train this evening at about 20.00 while on Thursday they will train double shift at San Martin playing venue.

France was the rival of Argentina (played in Salta) in the last 2013 edition of the premier annual competition organized by the FIVB for Men's National Teams, in the fifth weekend with the European team winning both matches in very tied sets.

The FIVB Volleyball World League heralds a new era with a clash between two giants on the first day of the 25th anniversary tournament. Brazil, who have won a record nine titles, host the eight-time winners Italy in Jaragua Do Sul at 14.45 local time on Friday, May 23.

Between them, Brazil and Italy have won 17 of the 24 titles on offer to date. They are also the only teams to have played at every one of the 24 previous showdowns between the top volleyball teams in the world.

Reigning world champions Brazil welcome back a global star to their squad, in the form of Murilo Endres, who was the MVP at the 2010 FIVB World Championships. The powerful attacker missed much of the season whilst recovering from an injury to his shoulder. “I have never spent so much time away. I’m very motivated to help the team,” said Murilo Endres.

Italy are putting their faith in players like “points machine” Ivan Zaytsev, who was top scorer in the 2013 Intercontinental Round with 215 points, and Dragan Travica. The setter recently led Belogorie Belgorod to the title at the FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championships.

“Italy is traditionally a very strong opponent”, said Brazilian player Ricardo Lucarelli. “This year our situation was a little more complicated because we have had little training time with the whole group together. I believe we will have some difficulty in this regard, but the Brazilian team always shows a lot of guts, willpower and determination to overcome any obstacles in its way.”

The second duel between Brazil and Italy in Pool A, at 10.10 on May 24 at the Arena Jaragua, is also “Match of the Week” and will be available to broadcasters.

The heat is on from the word go in Pool D, where all four teams are in action on the opening weekend. The ambitious Germans will be without superstar Georg Grozer on Friday and Saturday, when they face their guests from Japan. Masashi Nambu, Japan's new coach, is faced with the difficult taks of making the former volleyball heavyweight one of the top nations of the World. Nambu replaces American Gary Stato, the team's foreign coach.

A new coach will also grace the Argentinian bench on Saturday and Sunday in Mendoza. Julio Velasco (62), who is one of the most respected coaches of the World and won two World Championships with Italy in 1990 and 1994, recently stepped down as coach of the Iranian National Volleyball Team to lead the men's team in his home country, Argentina. Velasco's first tough opponent this weekend is France, who warmed up for the opening match with friendlies against Brazil.

The “Match of the Week” programme allows broadcasters to televise one match from each week of the FIVB’s premier annual tournament for men, free of charge. Launched in 2008, the “Match of the Week” initiative is available to the World League’s host broadcasters and to other television channels. The aim is to spread volleyball to regions where the sport has a potential to grow.

Growth is also the name of the game in what is a record season in the FIVB World League. Twenty-eight teams will line up in this year’s event, which is ten more than in 2013. Five countries will be making their debut in the competition: Belgium, Slovakia, Tunisia, Turkey and Mexico. One of these teams, Belgium, is active on the opening weekend of this year’s FIVB World League. The newcomers face Australia, who have made just one previous appearance in the competition back in 1999, in the first matches of Group C in Kortrijk and Liege.

In total, ten of the 28 teams in the competition will take to the court on the opening weekend. In Group B, the matches on Friday and Saturday in Varna open with the duel between the fourth-placed team in 2013, Bulgaria, and 2012 silver medallists USA.

Pool C features first time participants, Belgium along with Canada, Australia and Finland while Argentina, Germany, France and Japan are in Pool D. Pook Ee sees the Netherlands, Korea, the Czech Republic and Portugal go head to head.

Pools F and G include teams which are lower down the world rankings. Cuba, who are in a rebuilding phase, are joined in Pool F by debutants Tunisia (that played some friendly matches until Monday in Argentina), Turkey and Mexico. Pool G consists of Slovakia, Puerto Rico, China and Spain. Both pools will play two stand-alone tournaments per pool, involving the four teams in the pool. The final four of Pools F & G will take place at the end of June in Bursa, Turkey.

this year's competition format is completely new. During the Intercontinental Round, pools A to E will play double home and away matches, making a total of 12 matches per team. In the nine weeks till the Grand Finale on July 20th, millions of Volleyball fans around the World will have been treated to a true feast of FIVB World League action.