A young, refreshed French team ‘Les Bleus’ starts its FIVB World League campaign Friday with a double confrontation at home in Montbeliard against Bulgaria. Then, they will move to Metz for a repeat to be played Sunday.


For France, the World League is a top priority this season, and has as much importance as the European championship, which will be played late August in Poland and Denmark.
“We will not approach the World League as a warm-up for the Euro 2013, but as an intense and great major competition,” says Laurent Tillie, France’s head coach. “We’ll play any single game at 100 percent, to get as many victories as we can.”
Laurent Tillie was appointed French coach in July 2012 to replace Philippe Blain. Since then, he has worked to build a new team with a subtile mixture of young and experienced players. Among the young players are Earvin N’Gapeth, Guillaume Quesque, Mory Sidibe and Kevin Le Roux. Bringing more experience to the team are Gerald Hardy-Dessources and Marien Moreau.
While Tillie picked his team’s experience level, he also focused on the setter position, when he decided to appoint the young Benjamin Toniutti, 23, to replace former Brazilian star Rafael Redwitz, 32.
Redwitz – who played for Paris Volley and Tours in French league, Volley Forli in Italy and Odintsovo in Russia – got his French passport earlier this year. He will make his debut on the French squad for the World League.
Tillie will look for a strong start against Bulgaria in the first game.
“Bulgaria is a very athletic and stable team, with some extraordinary high and powerful players,” he said. “But the coach and his squad can’t forget that Bulgaria beat France for a spot in the London Olympics last year. They will enter in Friday’s game to get revenge.”
Before spending a week in Montbeliard, France played two friendly games in Italy last week. Les Bleus won twice against the Italian national team, which Tille said, “It was very good preparation.”

Friendly matches of France before World League:

France – Germany 3 – 2 (20-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-16, 15-13)  

France: Benjamin Toniutti, Marien Moreau, Earvin Ngapeth, Guillaume Quesque, Kevin le Roux, Gerald Hardy-Dessources, Jenia Grebennikov (L)
Germany: Lukas Kampa, Christian Fromm, Marcus Böhme, Philipp Collin, Dirk Westphal, Denis Kaliberda, Ferdinand Tille (L)

Top scorers: Ervin Ngapeth 27, Mory Sidibe15; Marcus Bohme 13, Dirk Westphal 11, Denis Kaliberda 11 

France – Italy 3 – 1 (25-18, 19-25, 25-14, 27-25)

France: Toniutti, Ngapeth 22, Hardy- Dessources 9, Sidibe 13, Quesque 9, Le Roux 13, Grebennikov (L) and Le Goff 2, Tuia , Redwitz, Lyneel
Italy: Travica 1, Parodi 12, Beretta 9, Zaytsev 18, Savani 7, Birarelli 9, Rossini (L) and Vettori 3, Fedrizzi 1, Baranowicz, Giovi, Piano, Cester

France – Italy 3 – 1 (28-26, 25-19, 20-25, 25-23)

France: Redwitz 2, Ngapeth 13, Le Goff 5, Sidibe 17, Sidibe 17, Hardy- Desspurces 6, Grebennikov (L), Toniutti, Quesque 1, Lyneel 9. Ne Le Roux
Italy: Travica 3, Parodi 2, Beretta 10, Zaytsev 14, Savani 14, Birarelli 0, Rossini (L) and Cester3, Lanza 2, Fedrizzi 4, Vettori  11, Piano 4, Baranowicz

Source: Own news/FIVB