Andrea Giani’s blue dream, already a success for French volleyball

Andrea Giani's blue dream, already a success for French volleyball

A closed but not austere face contrasts with the often happy and sometimes laughing faces of the players of the French volleyball team: that of Andrea Giani. Not that the master of the game is in a bad mood – he could hardly have dreamed of anything better than a Nations League win for his start as Blues manager – but the Italian is wary of happy times. Especially before diving into world championships that they have never achieved in this team. “France’s best result in this competition is 3rd place, and it dates back to 2002,” the Italian calmly recalls, before setting his goal for the Slovenian campaign that starts on Friday. “The Semi Final”.

A result that would not be enough to satisfy adrenaline junkies, eager for a new dose of Tokyo 2021-style euphoria, but that would allow Giani to maintain his bet, that of consistency. “The history of this team has shown that after a great result many times comes a great defeat,” he said in a barely concealed allusion to the Eurocup revolt after the Olympic gold, which the new coach gladly takes advantage of to prick the ego of his players. . . At first glance, it works. By dint of rehashing Bérézina, it could be believed more recent than the success in the League of Nations in the mouth of Jénia Grebennikov: “The match against the Czechs in the European Championship (defeat in three days) should serve as a reference. We have to take that into account and we have to be able to win these games in which we feel less good. »

An iron fist in a velvet glove

One of Andrea Giani’s successes lies in the way he appropriated the history of this France team to better integrate himself into it. The fact of using in his storytelling the failure of 2021 when the team was led by Bernardinho, Laurent Tillie’s short-lived successor, is proof of this. Among many others. “There’s a kind of humility in his approach,” says smuggler Antoine Brizard. He is part of an Italian generation of players who have won it all many times. [sauf les JO], where there was a lot of ego and yet I don’t see Giani there. She made us very happy to see that she didn’t want to impose anything, that she was very flexible and that she leaned on what we had already done well to help us progress. Starting from scratch would have made no sense, and he understood that. »

In the diplomacy department, the Italian had the good idea not to infuse a locker room adept at the gay brothel with the martial impetus that would cling to his unconditional love of the job. As Tillie summed up in RMC months earlier, “Giani is an iron fist in a velvet glove.”

“It is a different culture and it is important to understand it when you arrive at a team, justifies the Italian. This team should not change your identity, your way of life. This is what characterizes it. I have to understand this mentality and help the players to keep winning. His numerous exchanges with Laurent Tillie, whom he already knew personally before taking office in the spring of 2022, facilitate his legacy. Just as the abundance of Italian speakers in the workforce makes internal communication easy, even if you have to go through Benjamin Toniutti for translation when it needs to be sharp.

Giani ready to pounce on a ball like Tillie

“Giani is super involved. He was the perfect candidate, Jénia Grebennikov is satisfied, quickly recovering from the disappointment at the departure of Bernardinho, a kind of Pep Guardiola of volleyball from whom she expected a lot from the teacher. When I was in Modena two years ago, Giani was already talking to me about the France team. It was his dream. And a motivated guy makes you want. We know he wanted to work with us, so we want to work with him too. »

“But we complain a lot, especially when we do more, because we think we’re doing too much,” laughs Antoine Brizard, who like everyone else had two months of intense physical preparation. But actually we like to train, we don’t run away. We complain because we are French, but we are very happy to do so. And I think he appreciates that, just like he appreciates that we’re all brothers on this team. In any case, we make him laugh. »

By dint of getting together with 1.95 m clowns, Andrea Giani develops a humor that is still certainly shy, but that has the merit of existing. Sitting across from us, he playfully promises to pounce on a ball in the middle of a game, like a Tillie, if need be. “Laurent and I participate in the matches. So everything is possible. “An effective way to conquer the public as he did with his wardrobe, although the shortest path to popularity is still victory.

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