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France looks to add points before traveling overseas

Philippe Blain, French head coach, instructs his players

Paris, France, July 1, 2009 - Pool B leader France will take on Serbia on Friday in Paris-Bercy and on Sunday in Liévin, a famous venue for track and field.

France is the only team in the group to win a two-game series at the 2009 World League. Last weekend in Round 3, France beat Korea twice.

Before going to Korea and Argentina for the final two intercontinental rounds, the "Tricolores" want to take maximum points at home to solidify their position atop the standings. Serbia, the host nation for the Final Six of the 2009 FIVB World League, has already qualified with a bye, but will nevertheless be a hard opponent for France this weekend.

Serbian head coach Igor Kolakovic has chosen to play with a young team. Nevertheless, Serbia has 10 points and is in second position, just behind France with 11 points. In their first encounter in Serbia, each team got a victory, so the next two games between France and Serbia are expected to be traditionally tight.

Serbia's goal is to be competitive in the Final Round, whereas France's goal is to qualify, which is why top players will join the French squad for the second half of the qualification round.

Philippe Blain, the French head coach, has sent Gérald Hardy-Dessources home. Olivier Kieffer is now with the team and will add his talents and experience to this young team. Stéphane Antiga will also be on the squad but Philippe Blain has not yet decided whether to play him.

Final player selections will be made at the last training session on Thursday.

Previous matches between Serbia and France:

The National Volleyball Team of Serbia has played France 34 times on the international scene: at the Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, World League and European Championships.

The "Blue Boys" enjoy the advantage, having won 20 times and lost 14, with a set ratio of 74:62.

In World League play, Serbia (Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro) and France have played 13 matches, with Serbia winning seven and losing six, with a set ratio of 27:24.

On two occasions, in 2002 and 2008, the two countries found themselves in the same pool in the Intercontinental Round.

Their last match was played in Belgrade three weeks ago on the first weekend of the 2009 World League Intercontinental Round Pool B. Serbia won the match 3-1.


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