Italy struggles, suffers, beats France and returns to the semifinals of a World Cup after 12 years

from Pierfrancesco Catucci

De Giorgi’s blues play on par against Andrea Giani’s Olympic champions, suffer in the first and third set and then dominate the tie break

The teacher beats the pupil this time, just when the stakes are higher. After losing badly twice out of two in the Nations League, Fef De Giorgi’s youngsters beat Andrea Giani’s French Olympic champions 3-2 (24-26, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 15-12) and hit the semifinal of the World Cup of Slovenia and Poland 12 years after the last time (it will be played on Saturday in Katowice, Poland, against the winner of Slovenia-Ukraine). De Giorgi and Giani, 804 appearances in two with the blue shirt on and companions in the three World Cups won by Italy between 1990 and 1998. De Giorgi and Giani, called in the last year to collect opposite but equally challenging inheritances: De Giorgi with a renewal to set up – which cost the place in blue also to the totem Ivan Zaytsev – after the Olympic disappointment of Tokyo and Giani with a wave to surf with gold around their necks towards the 2024 Paris Games.

To date, the path of the Azzurri coach says European won in September, fourth place in the Nations League and world semifinal with 12 rookies out of 14 in the competition. This team is shaping it in its image and likeness: against France an Italy that knows how to suffer, that in moments of difficulty (and against the French Alps there was more than one) takes refuge in its technical certainties and starts again. The Nations League defeats against the French – explains the coach – served to understand how much we still needed to play at their level. We had to know how to exploit them and we did it. The goal was to create opportunities for us to go play for medals. We did it, now comes the best.

Italy starts well with good pressure on the wall and in service. We need to take risks and the Azzurri don’t hold back. Always ahead until mid-set, however, over the distance they yield something in precision. Giannelli practically plays only on the bands (the only first half attacks him Galassi and scores) and the French wall grows point by point, until Ngapeth’s serve breaks through the Italian reception and gives the transalpines the first set. A disadvantage that does not undermine the blue certainties. Italy returns to the field with the same positive attitude as the previous part and they start leading. France, however, remains under attack. The blue wall contains Ngapeth well and Lavia and Roman carry the weight of the attack on their shoulders up to 25-21 which brings everything back to a level playing field. The Azzurri try to take advantage of the long wave of enthusiasm and continue to lead the game with Roman very regular in attack. The black out on 19-16 with Ngapeth serving, however, reverses the inertia of the set. The French regain confidence and a super Patry no longer misses anything, including the point that gives France the new advantage. Italy, however, remains there, suffers at the start of the fourth set, mistakes too much, but then good at finding itself in its technical certainties, despite Michieletto’s back problem that scares everyone a bit. And in the end the blues bring it to the tie break. And then they immediately put the turbo, dig the furrow in the score and run towards the semifinal on Saturday.

September 7, 2022 (change September 7, 2022 | 22:37)

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Italy struggles, suffers, beats France and returns to the semifinals of a World Cup after 12 years

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