Euro 2023 : les Bleus, battus par la Slovénie, finissent au pied du podium

The French team was defeated in the tie-break on Saturday, September 16th during the match for the third place.

Les Bleus n’ont pas trouvé le remède à leur indigestion italienne : deux jours après la claque infligée par l’Italie en demi-finales, les volleyeurs français se sont inclinés face aux Slovènes (3-2) dans le match pour la 3e place de l’Euro 2023, samedi à Rome.
The 2021 Olympic champions left Rome and its Sports Palace with a double disappointment: being defeated by Italy in the semi-finals on Thursday, they managed to come back to a 2-2 score after being down 2-0, but ultimately lost in the tie-break and had to settle for fourth place.

Un bilan mitigé

Their performance in this European Championship, the last major tournament before the 2024 Paris Olympics, is mixed with a total of three losses, including their defeat in the group stage against Romania. A small consolation, less than a year before « their » Olympic Games, Earvin Ngapeth and his teammates achieved their best result in a major international event since their Olympic victory in Tokyo in 2021.

While they finished 9th in Euro 2021 and 5th in the World Cup 2022, disregarding their victory in the Nations League 2022, this 4th place puts them back in the international elite. The players of Andrea Giani, Italian volleyball legend, dreamt of a European title, eight years after the only one in French volleyball history, achieved by this golden generation.

But after a summer and a preparation disrupted by injuries (Trevor Clévenot, Kevin Tillie) and recoveries (Ngapeth), Italy, the reigning European and world champion, and Slovenia have shown their current limitations in two one-sided matches (3-0). The French team started the « consolation final » with Ngapeth as a starter for the first time in the knockout phase.

Avec également Stephen Boyer et Kevin Tillie dans l’équipe de départ, ils n’ont jamais mené dans la première manche malgré un sursaut en fin de set et l’ont concédé sur une faute au service de Yacine Louati. Les Bleus ont mené pour la première fois en début de 2e set jusqu’à 8-8, avant de perdre pied, notamment face aux contres slovènes (11-16, 12-19, 15-23).

Despite the entries of Louati, Jean Patry, and Benjamin Toniutti in the passing, they did not disturb the Slovenians and conceded the second set in 30 minutes (2-0). More effective in blocks and thanks to Ngapeth’s 5 points, they snatched the third set to come back to 2-1 and followed with the fourth set before yielding in the tie-break.

During the final, Poland achieved an impressive feat by defeating Italy on their home ground with a score of 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-23) to claim the European title.