Paris (AFP)

The French basketball players find themselves in an affordable group in the 1st round of Euro-2021 (June 17-27) with Russia, the Czech Republic and Croatia, and will aim for the last continental square that they have not left since 2009.

This Euro-2021, co-organized between France and Spain, will take place in Strasbourg and Valencia (Spain) for the first phase (groups, play-offs and quarterfinals), while the final phase (semi-finals, 3rd place and final) will argue in Valencia.

The French have inherited a group with three nations that have already been crowned European champions: 2005 for the Czechs, 2001 and 2009 for France, 2003, 2007 and 2011 for Russia.

But the Blue, vice-champions of Europe in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, are favorites to take first place in the group synonymous with direct place for the quarter-finals.

"The group seems rather favorable to the France team, but there is this unknown from Russia, since it has been a while since we have not played them," said the coach of the France team, Valérie Garnier.

"Russia, we know that they are a big team in all positions. There is a new generation that has performed in recent years, and they are led by the players from Yekaterinburg and Kursk. serious candidate, ”Garnier said.

- Difficult crossing in quarters -

For a place in the quarterfinals, the French will have to take first place in this group, while the second and third will have to go through a jump-off.

They will "cross" with Group C, which includes Belgium, 4th in the last World Cup-2018, Turkey, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The French will try to overcome the curse of the last step, after the setbacks against Spain (2013, 2017, 2019) and Serbia (2015) in the final, while the last European title of the Blue dates back to 2009.

Despite the one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympics (July 23-August 8, 2021) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Federation (Fiba) maintained the Ladies Euro in June 2021, due to a busy schedule with the World Cup scheduled for 2022 in Australia.

This European Championship will serve as a dress rehearsal and launching pad towards the Olympics for the four European nations that will travel to Japan this summer, namely France, Spain, Belgium and Serbia.

Initially, France had to organize the final phase (semi-finals, 3rd place and final) in addition to part of the group stage and quarter-finals.

But the French Federation had given up in mid-May 2020, focusing on the first phase of the tournament and ceding the organization of the last part to its Spanish counterpart and to the city of Valencia.

Faced with the health situation, the presence of the public in the two rooms is uncertain.

"We would like this women's Euro to be able to take place under more or less normal conditions. We hope to have, as has been recalled by everyone, audiences in the theaters", explained the president of the French Basketball Federation, Jean-Pierre Siutat, who made the trip to Valence for the draw

© 2021 AFP