Volleyball: the Blues ready for the League of Nations, launching pad before the Olympics

The French volleyball team, reigning Olympic champion, begins its Nations League (VNL) campaign against Bulgaria on Tuesday in Antalya (Turkey), with the ambition of performing well in this event, ideal for preparing the Paris Games, its great objective.

As André Gide wrote, “to choose is to deprive yourself of the rest”. Also, the Blues do not want to choose. Since you can only adorn yourself with Olympic gold every four years, the rest is this annual VNL. But it worked out quite well for them, since they won it in 2022, after reaching the final in 2018 for the inaugural edition of this competition created from the ashes of the World League.

And in 2021, on the road to the Tokyo Games, the French finished in third place, demonstrating, without this necessarily foreshadowing the feat to come, that in any case they should not be underestimated. This League of Nations is full of good memories for France in volleyball. So out of the question for Ervin Ngapeth and co to approach it with the ulterior motive of taking care of their mount, before the defense of their Olympic title (July 26-August 11).

“We really consider it as a rehearsal before the Olympics, it must allow us to prepare as best as possible and to have maximum certainty in our game. We must enter this competition with the idea of ​​being the most efficient possible in each match,” summarized the passer Benjamin Toniutti to AFP.

Full of confidence

“It’s important for our team to build confidence. So we really have to try to develop the best possible game, in order to progress from weekend to weekend,” said the captain again on Saturday, a few hours before the convincing friendly victory against the Netherlands in Orléans. .

Gathered since May 6, the Blues are coming out of a “long and tiring season” in each of their clubs, according to Toniutti. The latter and Jean Patry, who joined him in the Polish team Jastrzebski Wegiel, are left with a lost Champions League final that they quickly want to forget. On Tuesday, they will enter the VNL against the Bulgarians, “a very physical team, quite young”, according to Toniutti. This will be followed in the week by “a complicated match” against Slovenia, which is vying for one of the five tickets at stake for the Olympic tournament, then the United States, “which, along with Poland and Italy, are the favorites for Olympic gold.” and finally Turkey.

The competition will continue from June 2 to 9 in Ottawa and from June 14 to 23 in Manila, before the Final 8 which the Blues hope to play in Lodz from June 24 to July 1. After which there will be a little more than three weeks left to reach the desired peak of Olympic form, hoping to have already achieved it on the way.

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