Paris start new cycle in European quest
Six new players, seven players leaving – it is the first time in a long time that Paris Saint-Germain Handball have had to integrate so many new players after a summer break.
However, changes to their squad will not stop the French club from targeting another EHF FINAL4 appearance in the EHF Champions League Men.
- the 2020/21 season will be the French side’s eighth consecutive season in the EHF Champions League Men
- Paris qualified after being crowned French champions for the sixth time in a row
- PSG have already qualified for the rescheduled 2020 VELUX EHF FINAL4 in December – their fourth appearance (after 2016-18)
- the French side added five new players for 2020/21, including 2019 Champions League winner Dainis Kristopans and EHF EURO 2018 All-star right wing Ferran Sole
- departures include EHF EURO 2020 champion Rodrigo Corrales (Veszprém), Luc Abalo (Elverum) and Norwegian superstar Sander Sagosen (THW Kiel)
Most important question: Without Sander Sagosen will PSG look like a completely different team?
Losing a player as impactful as Sander Sagosen always forces a team to undergo some big changes, and Paris Saint-Germain will go through that phase this season. The Norwegian wunderkind chose to move to THW Kiel, forcing Raul Gonzalez to think again about how his team can play.
With Elohim Prandi joining the team in the left back position, the most obvious move will be that Nikola Karabatic will play centre back next season. That will not drastically change the way that Paris will play, though, as most of the back court players are talented enough to adapt.
But with the addition of Dainis Kristopans on the right side of the offence, PSG will be a more balanced team next season.
Under the spotlight: Elohim Prandi
If you are a handball fan, there is only a slim chance that you missed one of his highlights.
His behind-the-back goal against Rhein-Neckar Löwen in the EHF Cup last season was one of the biggest hits of the season. But it also does not tell the whole story about Elohim Prandi.
At 22, his arm is one of the most powerful on the circuit, and there is no goalkeeper in Europe who has not heard of him.
Prandi gave Europe a taste of his physical skills at the EHF EURO 2020 with France, his first senior major international competition, and it is time for the EHF Champions League to get to know France’s new handball hero.
How they rate themselves
As PSG have qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in December, they are one of four teams that will battle in both the 2020/21 edition of the EHF Champions League and the previous edition.
Some might find it hard to focus but for captain Luka Karabatic, every game is one for his team to win.
Despite rubbing shoulders in group A with MOL-Pick Szeged, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, Lomza Vive Kielce and HC Vardar 1961, the French side will have their eyes on the win every week.
“Our goal is to get the best ranking in the group phase and to qualify for the knockout phase,” said the PSG captain.
Meanwhile, Bruno Martini knows the difficulty of the task. He said: “We will actually start our season with two EHF Champions League games, at Szeged and against Flensburg, before the beginning of the Lidl Starligue (French league). It won’t be an easy task, but we still want to maintain the high standards of the past seasons, where we finished first or second in the group phase.”
Did you know?
Only one club has taken part in more EHF FINAL4s than Paris-Saint Germain without winning it: Telekom Veszprém.
The Hungarian side have travelled to Cologne four times without lifting the trophy, while PSG’s best performance from three appearances at the showpiece event was a narrow loss in the 2017 final against Vardar.
Nevertheless, Paris are still confident thay they will be able to turn their fate around, either in December or in 2021, which team manager Bruno Martini confirmed.
“We are looking forward to see our squad, which has undergone some changes, take part in this historic season, as we could have the opportunity to play two EHF FINAL4s in the EHF Champions League in six months,” said Martini.
Newcomers and left the club
Newcomers: Yann Genty (Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc Handball), Mathieu Grebille (Montpellier Handball), Dainis Kristopans (Füchse Berlin), Sadou Ntanzi (PSG youth system – first professional contract), Elohim Prandi (USAM Nîmes Gard), Ferran Solé (Fenix Toulouse Handball)
Left the club: Rodrigo Corrales (Telekom Veszprém), Luc Abalo (Elverum Handball), Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson (retirement – now coach of VfL Gummersbach), Kim Ekdahl du Rietz (retirement), Sander Sagosen (THW Kiel), Edouard Kempf (Fenix Toulouse Handball), Robin Dourte (US Ivry Handball)
EHF Champions League:
Participations (including 2020/21 season): 9
Runners-up (1): 2016/17
Semi-final (3): 2015/16, 2017/18 (3rd), 2019/20
Quarter-final (3): 2013/14, 2014/15, 2018/19
Last 16 (1): 2005/06
EHF Cup: Quarter-finals 2006/07, Last 16 2003/04
French league: 7 titles (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
French cup: 4 titles (2007, 2014, 2015, 2018)
French league cup: 3 titles (2017, 2018, 2019)
Trophée des Champions: 4 titles (2014, 2015, 2016, 2019)