Lyon, France, June 17, 2009 – Last Sunday in Lyon, Olympic men's handball champions France and the women's team played one match each at Lyon's Palais des Sports de Gerland. The French were victorious in both matches, and local fans are now anticipating another French triumph, this time in Volleyball, when the hosts welcome Argentina to the Palais during the second round of World League play.
The teams play in Lyon on Friday and in Nice on Sunday.
For the first time Baptiste and Loïc Geiler will wear together the national shirt. The youngest, Baptiste, will play tomorrow in Lyon his first official game. His brother, Loïc played 43 times for France. Both players was selected for The Mediterranean games (soon in Pescara) but Philippe Blain needed to revise the roster: Emmanuel Ragondet and Guillaume Samica are injured. Ragondet (who sprained his left ankle) will have to observe a stop for at least two weeks. Guillaume Samica has left the team as well due to an injured shoulder and will be out for one month.
The French are looking to pick up maximum points to try to qualify for the Final Round of the 2009 World League. After participating in 2006 and 2007, France failed to reach the Final Round of the last edition. French players are preparing for the World qualification Tournament in August and need to be competitive from June until September for the European championships.
After the first weekend, France is number one in Pool B but only thanks to a better set average than Serbia, Korea and Argentina. The four teams won one and lost one last weekend. France leads with a better set difference.
After winning its first game in Serbia 3-0, France missed its break in Belgrade and did not play a good match with some mistakes, which limited ambition versus a team like Serbia. Also Philippe Blain, the French head coach, lost Emmanuel Ragondet with an ankle sprain in the second game. Ragondet will miss the Argentina challenge and may also be out of next weekend's tie with Korea.
It’s an opposite situation for Argentina: after two tight contests with Korea, the South Americans left Asia with a victory in the second match.
Weber Javier and his players will have to quickly shake off the jet lag to obtain a positive result and keep their chances alive on the road to qualification. Argentina will welcome France on the last weekend of the first stage, and both teams know that each set (and point) may be decisive in reaching the Final Six.
Serbia has already qualified for the final round as host team, so the qualification battle will boil down to that between France, Argentina and Korea.
The first match between France and Argentina is scheduled for Friday at 20:30 in Lyon.