France coach Laurent Tillie speaks to his players
Lille, France, July 2, 2018 - After finishing top of the Preliminary Round, France coach Laurent Tillie's players have reason to be confident ahead of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League Finals in Lille from July 4 to 8. Tillie, however, believes any of the six teams in the Men's Finals could come out on top as hosts France, Brazil, Poland, Russia, Serbia and USA prepare for this week's showdown.
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Speaking to the French Volleyball Federation website
, Tillie said: "Our results in the Preliminary Round were a little beyond what we had hoped for. We did what we needed to do, by taking each match seriously and by using a big pool of players. But we know that the level of the Finals will be higher. During the Preliminary Round, I thought some teams gave up a little too quickly, were a little too fatalistic. That fatalism is something we fought against to find solutions and win our matches. But I am sure that this fatalism will not exist in the Finals, that each match will be a long and difficult battle.
"There is no better way to prepare for the Finals than to give a lot of players time on the court and continue to win matches. It is also important to work on the team playing as a unit, which it is easier to do with six players than with 14. But everyone is ready physically, everyone has trained well, has played. I hope that will be beneficial during the Finals."
France will play their first match of the Finals on Wednesday against reigning Olympic champions Brazil. Their second Pool A match against Serbia is scheduled for Friday evening - the top two teams in each Finals pool will progress to the semifinals on Saturday.
"At the highest level of sport, you can lose or win against any team," said Tillie. "It is important to know that you will not always win and that you can also lose. It is also important to be able to bounce back after a defeat [like at the European Championships in 2017]. We were successful in the Preliminary Round, we must continue along that road.
"It is not because you win against a team a day earlier that you will win against the same team the following day. We played against Brazil in the Preliminary Round when some of their players were injured. A lot of things will change when those players return for the Finals. Brazil have won everything, and they win another major title almost every year. We know it will be a difficult match against them. The same is true for Serbia, who have improved since we played them in Aix-en-Provence. They have a team for the present and the future with a good mix of experienced and young players. They are strong both technically and physically. What is sure is that both matches will be very exciting. We have been well served!
"Playing in the fabulous Stade Pierre Mauroy will be a new experience for us. There is sure to be a fantastic atmosphere in this big stadium, in front of our fans. We are a little anxious as we hope to please our fans. But up to now, we have done our best to prepare well. We need to stay focused on our goals."