Our team is well-prepared physically. It is determined, concentrated on reaching goal we set, wants to develop. We will see how it will work on EuroVolley – said the coach of the French national team.
The French team started their preparations on 26th of July. After over a month of trainings and a few friendly matches (with Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Poland) the coach, Philippe Blain, can evaluate the progress made by his team.
– At the moment our preparations go well, dynamically. We established a necessary stabilization. This year’s World League was an important lesson for us, we drew conclusions. – says the French coach. – During this tournament Pierre Pujol and Nicolas Marechal returned to the national team. In result, in July I had a group of players ready to start the preparations to European Championships. We played a few friendly matches and thanks to them we know where are we in our preparations and what more we can improve. But if our work is enough, we will see during the pending tournament (on September, 2-4 the French team will play in a mini-tournament, Tournoi de France, with Bulgaria, Slovenia and Turkey).
– Tournoi de France is a good opportunity to end our preparations. The matches we play will introduce us to the contest rhythm, similar to this of European Championships. We will play with Bulgaria again. Last time in Sofia we played in front of 12.000 fans – it was magnificent! Bulgaria is among top European teams. The match against the players of Radostin Stoychev will be a big test for us and will show us how has increased our form since the last time. – said Philippe Blain. Tournoi de France will be played for the 5th time. Last year won the Bulgarian team, before the hosts, Argentina and Spain. Who will succeed this year? – A win always give such a positive “kick”. But more important is to check if our tactic is correct and if we are able to show what we worked out on training – commented the coach.
After the World Championships the French team got younger, many basic players, like Stephane Antiga, Olivier Kieffer and Hubert Henno, resigned from playing for the national team. The generational change lasted almost 2 years. New players appeared: Benjamin Toniutti, Ervin N’Gapeth and Julien Lyneel. On this year’s European Championships France will “defend” the silver medal, conquered in 2009 in Turkey. – My players want to succeed very much. – commented Blain. – We don’t have to prove everyone that we can be dangerous on Eurovolley. We all remember how our game looked like before the injury of Antonin Rouzier. Now, there is such responsibility on the young players. At the same time, however, a challenge stands ahead them, a target to achieve. Our minimum is to get a promotion to the quarterfinals of European Championships. One thing I know for sure – on September we want to shine!
The French team will start their European adventure with a match against Finland (September, 10), then Belgium and Italy. From Group C to the quarterfinals will get promotion only the team from the first place.
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