2015 World League champions France take on neighbours Belgium on Friday
Nancy, France, June 30, 2016 - France will host FIVB Volleyball World League Pool G1 in Nancy from July 1 to 3, with Brazil, Poland and Belgium travelling to the city to compete. France, Brazil and Belgium will hope to join hosts Poland at the Group 1 Finals in Krakow, from July 13 to 17.
Nancy is a true volleyball city, home to men's and women's teams in the top club divisions in France, and spectators at the Palais des Sports Jean Weille are in for a treat. Poland are automatically qualified for the Group 1 Finals as hosts, but reigning World League champions France, world number one Brazil and challengers Belgium will all play to qualify.
Aiming to claim a historic tenth title in the World League, Brazil remain one of the most impressive teams in the competition so far, with just one loss against Serbia in Belgrade last week. “We have come close to qualifying for the Finals, but we have one more very difficult tournament ahead of us, so we have to stay focused,” warned Brazil coach Bernardo Rezende.
The Belgian team, led by their impressive captain, opposite Sam Deroo - who is back after a week's rest at home - and unstoppable wing-spiker Gert Van Walle, appear to be this weekend's outsiders. Straight from last year's Group 2, Dominique Baeyens’ men have made a brilliant debut in Group 1 – with 3 wins and 3 losses. “Today we stand at the sixth place of the ranking and it’s already a victory for us. We are now assured to stay in Group 1 next year. Reaching the Final Six was not our first ambition but looking at the perfect shape and incredible dynamics of the team, I can only consider that everything is still possible!” said the head coach. The Red Dragons defeated France 3-2 in Sydney in week one, which goes to show they can cause another upset.
Due to injuries, Les Bleus will count on the likes of Thibault Rossard, who was the best scorer of their last game in Poland in week two with 21 points. Despite Kevin Tillie’s knee worries and Nicolas Marechal's back pain, France aim to defend their title. “To win the World League is the best way to prepare for the Olympics,” said coach Laurent Tillie. In the Jean Weille Hall, no fewer than 6000 French fans will be eager to cheer for their champions: an important support for a French team who need to be at their best to earn a place in the Group 1 Finals.