With the top level of international volleyball currently enjoying a high level of competitiveness, it is unlikely that the same national team will hold the most important titles in the sport all at the same time. That, however, is what France will be chasing at the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship from August 26 through September 11 in Poland and Slovenia.
France targeting triple crown
The reigning Olympic and VNL champions will attempt to add the world title to their list of achievements
Published 10:00, 15 Aug 2022
After their victory at last year’s Tokyo Olympics and their recent triumph at Volleyball Nations League 2022, the French could collect a third crown in men’s volleyball by winning the world title.
Winning a third consecutive major title would arguably be the great achievement so far for a talented French generation which has propelled the European nation to new heights at the international level, winning the nation’s first Olympic, VNL and European titles among several other medals in just seven years.
Since the creation of the FIVB Volleyball World League in 1990 (which was replaced by the VNL in 2018), only one nation had managed to retain three key titles at the same time. Brazil won the 2004 Olympics, the 2002 and 2006 World Championships and four consecutive World League titles between 2004 and 2007.
France recently dethroned the South Americans twice by claiming the Olympic title in Tokyo and the VNL trophy this year, and also overtook the Brazilians in the FIVB World Rankings in the process.
The recent French victory at the VNL proved the Europeans have more than enough star power and depth to contend for the world title later this month. Although first-year head coach Andrea Giani rotated lineups during the Preliminary Phase, France still ranked fourth before winning their three matches at the Finals to claim gold.
The French also saw four of their players make it on to the VNL Dream Team, including opposite Jean Patry, libero Jenia Grebennikov and outside hitters Trevor Clevenot and Earvin Ngapeth, who also earned the MVP award with another exceptional performance.
The return of the 32-year-old Grebennikov, in particular, significantly strengthens the French team ahead of the World Championship. The star libero is arguably the best in his position in the world and played only three matches at the VNL, but all of them at a really high level.
All four VNL Dream Teamers have been selected by Giani for the 14-men roster that will play in Poland and Slovenia alongside setters Antoine Brizard and Benjamin Toniutti, opposite Stephen Boyer, outside hitters Kevin Tillie and Yacine Louati, middle blockers Barthelemy Chinenyeze, Nicolas Le Goff, Mederic Henry and Quentin Jouffroy and libero Benjamin Diez.
The French didn’t take much time off following their VNL victory. Just ten days after lifting the trophy in Bologna, they returned to their training facility in Bordeaux to start their preparations for the World Championship. A friendly match against Brazil in Montpellier on August 20 will be part of those preparations ahead of their first matches in Slovenia.
France will take their first steps towards a world title in Ljubljana, where they will play against Germany on August 26, hosts Slovenia on August 28 and Cameroon on August 30 to complete their pool play schedule.