Preview: Aix – PSG Handball
PAUC's early-season results have left a bit to be desired, and as a result, they sit in eighth place, the same ranking they ended up in last season. However, their ambitions for the 2017-2018 season are much loftier than that. The club recruited judiciously in the summer, but have been handicapped by the successive absences of Théo Derot, Wesley Pardin and Slavisa Djukanovic. Their results have been equally choppy, with a big 21-30 win in Tremblay followed up by a heavy 27-32 defeat at home to Dunkerque a week later. This dynamic has been in effect all season long, with a total of five wins and four defeats in nine matches.
A dangerous front line
While they have had some difficulties with their 'keepers since September, with Pardin injured and Djukanovic experiencing health problems, Aix sit in sixth place in the Lidl StarLigue defence table. However, at the other end of the court, they are firing on all cylinders with 262 goals scored, and sit third on the attack table behind Paris and Toulouse. This impressive cutting edge has come thanks to the depth in their squad, with six of their players having shot at least 22 goals so far this season: youngsters Karl Konan (24 goals), Aymeric Minne (30) and Gabriel Loesh (31) as well as the more experienced Mamdouh Mohamed (23). Their top scorer is 25-year-old right-winger Jordan Camarero, who has struck no fewer than 34 times.
Up against Sergiy
When discussing Aix's goal scorers, it is impossible not to mention Ukrainian Sergiy Onufriyenko, who is no stranger to capital club fans after wearing the Rouge et Bleu in season 2015-2016. He turned in some great league performances in that time, and ended up as Paris Saint-Germain Handball's second-top scorer with 90 strikes, behind Mikkel Hansen (228 goals). The 32-year-old right-back also shone in Europe, bagging seven goals at Kiel's Sparkassen Arena to help his side to an historic win (26-30).
In the new Arena
Since 11 October 2017, and the visit of Chambéry, Jérôme Fernandez's men have been playing on a brand-new court. Former stomping ground the Val de l'Arc gave way to a new Arena with a 6,004-seat capacity. They christened their new court in the best possible way, beating Chambéry in a thriller (29-28). Since then, they have conceded two defeats at home, to Montpellier (28-32) and Dunkerque. But there is no doubt they will be looking to take the scalp of one of the league's leading lights to thrill the fans in their new home. Paris have been warned, but nonetheless have never lost in Aix since the club arrived in the top flight in 2012.
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