Laurent Tillie among his players of the French volleyball team during the first TQO in Poland, in August 2019. - Oleksiewicz / PressFocus / SIPA

Last call for Tokyo: the French volleyball players, who had failed in a first TQO in Poland last August, shoot their last card to compete in the 2020 Olympics, in a qualification tournament extremely raised in Berlin from Sunday. There are notably Serbia (European champion 2019 and fourth in the 2018 World champion), Slovenia (European vice-champion 2015 and 2019) or Germany (European vice-champion 2017), while there is only one ticket in play.

Strong competition and significant absences

“We already experienced this kind of tournament four years ago, even if it's a little different. In 2016, there was first place directly qualifying, second and third places provided an affordable second chance, while there is only one place, notes captain Benjamin Toniutti in an interview with AFP. It is the mission to go there: in volleyball, there will be four European countries, while 80% of the best teams are in Europe. We know it's going to be very complicated, but we're going to take our chances. "

The trouble will start in the group stage, with Serbia, which will rely on the strong men of the continental coronation, Bulgaria and the Netherlands, and only two places to reach the semi-finals. To make matters worse, France arrives in Berlin lessened: its sharp Stephen Boyer, revelation and best scorer of Euro 2019, gave up for personal reason, two of its attackers / receivers, Trevor Clévenot and Thibault Rossard, are injured and have withdrawn, and Julien Lyneel still suffers from back pain.

Big blow for the Blues of volleyball, Stephen Boyer renounces the TQO via @ 20minutesSport

- 20 Minutes Sport (@ 20minutesSport) January 3, 2020

“The players were exhausted, with lots of sores, pain, injuries. We patched up and we tried to update them physically, recognized coach Laurent Tillie. We don't have all our weapons, and when we arrive at a tournament with this level, it's a little frustrating. But that's how it is, and maybe the other teams are the same ”

In the key position of sharp, it is Jean Patry, author of a good start to the season with his club of Latina in Italy who will have the heavy load to replace Boyer. If France should fail, reconstruction will go through the 2021 and 2023 European Championships and the 2022 World Cup, to prepare for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, for which qualification is guaranteed as a host country.

“Beyond the image, there would be very great frustration for the whole group. It is an investment of four years, we kept the players to perform and qualify, at the expense of holidays, rest. It would be a great disappointment and since Rio we are thinking of going to Tokyo, ”said Tillie, who does not want to think of elimination.

  • French team
  • OJ 2020
  • Volleyball
  • Sport