A look back at the first half of the league season

At the mid-season break - which will last until February - Paris Saint-Germain Handball are in sole control of the Liqui Moly StarLigue table, with 13 victories in as many games (one game, against Saran, was postponed and is yet to be played). Take a look back on this exceptional first half of the season.

Successful restart
Three months after their last official match and its largest league win ever, against Nimes (45-25), the capital club returned to Liqui Moly StarLigue duties when they played host to Istres at the Stade Pierre De Coubertin on September 10. Kamil Syprzak (5 from 5) and Vincent Gérard (14 saves) gave a first indication of the Parisian strengths of this first half of the season and greatly contributed to a well-controlled win for Les Rouge et Bleu (34-25).

First breakaway
At the beginning of Round 5, only two teams had four wins in as many games. They were Nîmes and Paris, who met at the beginning of October at the Parnasse. The match looked attractive on paper and lived up to its billing on the court! While the match was balanced for most of the 60 minutes (37': 20-21), Raul Gonzalez's men fired a 7-0 in the space of 10 minutes (47': 20-28) to win this clash in Nîmes (25-32). Once again, Vincent shone with his efficiency, with 17 new saves (43%) including a 5 from 6 penalty saves (his career record). For the first time this season, our team were alone atop the Liqui Moly StarLigue.

The hammer blow
Paris' road trips were decidedly perilous in the early stages of the season and, two weeks after their success in Nimes, Les Rouge et Bleu had to travel to Montpellier for their Round 7 clash. Although Montpellier were something of a wounded beast early in the season (a draw and two defeats in six games), they remained dangerous opponents - especially when it came to playing host to Paris at a sold-out Sud de France Arena. Paris dominated for a long time (41': 22-24) before a last quarter of an hour complete craziness, during which the lead changed four times, only for the two teams to find themselves on level pegging in the final minute (59': 33-33). The rest belongs to history - and to Mikkel Hansen. The Danish international delivered his teammates, at the buzzer, thrashing a shot into the top corner past a helpless Marin Sego (33-34).

The confirmation
A week later, Paris Saint-Germain travelled to their new nearest rivals Aix for their fourth consecutive away game (all competitions included). This time, it wasn't even close! Dominant from beginning to end, Paris brought their league-topping form to bear and smothered their opponents (24-35). Adama Keita's eight goals (from 12 attempts) were particularly noteworthy, giving him the best record of his early career in the league. Thanks to this win at the Arena du Pays d'Aix, Les Rouge et Bleu opened up a five-point lead over their closest league rivals.

The biggest win
The Parisian attack has been on fire in this first half of the season. They have always managed to score at least 30 times and have won five times (in 13 games) by more than ten goals. Their biggest win was on November 13, when Chartres came calling at Coubertin. Five of our players finished the match with a 100% record in front of goal: Dainis Kristopans (1 from 1), Luc Steins, Mathieu Grébille (3 from 3), Benoît Kounkoud (5 from 5) and Mikkel Hansen (7 from 7). Well led by a razor-sharp front line, the capital club clinched a ninth successive win in as many matches and won by more than convincing 14 points (39-25).

Kamil the sniper
Already in very good form at the beginning of the season, Kamil Syprzak has ket on getting better as the season progresses. On 21 November, it was Saint-Raphaël who were Polish pivot's cross-hairs, and the SRVHB backline never managed to find a solution to muzzle him. Kamil enjoyed himself on the edge of the area, in a role he particularly likes. An acrobatic scorer, he managed to find the net with each one of his ten attempts and turned in his best offensive performance since arriving in France in the summer of 2019. Collectively, the Parisians also performed at a high level and ran out comfortable winners (42-31).

Last triumph
On 14 December, Les Rouge et Bleu concluded a perfect first half of the season (twelve wins from twelve games). But if they wanted to keep it going, they had to win one last time before the break. The task wasn't an easy one, as they were once again set to do battle with their nearest league rival, and this time, it was heavyweights Nantes on the menu. For this classic of French handball, The H made their Hall XXL live up to its name, drawing a sold-out crowd of 10,000 watch the league leaders challenge the home side's run of eight-straight wins. Before throw-off, it was difficult to predict who would win and, during the match, the players themselves were unable to decide who would win. Things looked tough for Paris, who found themselves trailing at the beginning of the last quarter of an hour (47': 24-21). Deprived of Kamil Syprzak and captain Luka Karabatic, our players dug deep to turn things around. And they succeeded, thanks to some brilliant defending and a front line who finally managed to get the upper hand on Nantes keeper Emil Nielsen (29-30).

The balance sheet:

Ranking: First (with a five-point lead over second and a game in hand)

Goals scored: 477 (best attack)

Goals conceded: 359 (second-best defense)

Top scorer: Mikkel Hansen (62 goals)

Most effective goalkeeper: Vincent Gérard (100 saves)

Biggest win: 39-25 (against Chartres)

Most goals scored: 45 (45-22, against Cesson-Rennes)

Lowest number of goals conceded: 24 (24-35, against Aix)

(Credits: A. Gadoffre/TeamPics/PSG)