Preview: PSG Handball - Chambéry
In the wake of securing a place in the next round of the Velux EHF Champions League with a 38-28 win over Skjern, Paris Saint-Germain Handball return to Lidl StarLigue action on Wednesday night as they host Chambéry, one of the league's top sides, at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin.
A great start
Their defeat to Montpellier (22-29) in Round 11 did little to mar what has been an excellent start to the season by the side from the Savoy region. They have been atop the Lidl Starligue table for much of the season so far, thanks to an unbeaten run of ten matches out of the gate, with Saint-Raphaël the only side who managed to take point from them (31-31). Otherwise, Yann Genty and his teammates have crushed everyone in their path, notably hammering Istres (34-21) and claiming an impressive away win at Nantes' famously hostile Palais des Sports de Beaulieu (29-33). Heading into Round 12, Chambéry find themselves in second place on the table, just one point behind leaders Nantes.
CSH's start to the season has been diametrically opposed to last season's (when they lost the first six of the season) and this has been due in no small part to a new wave of players in the team. Erick Mathé quit his job as assistant coach to Patrice Canayer at Montpellier and stepped into the shoes left vacant by Ivica Orban's departure from the Black and Yellows, and he is putting his faith on young talent. Several graduates of the club's youth academy have already become first-team regulars despite their tender years: Queido Traoré, Alexandre Tritta and Johannes Marsecot. In their last match, against Montpellier, there were no fewer than seven homegrown players on the team sheet, including the already seasoned Pierre Paturel.
Melic - Parisian old boy
But there can be no denying that Chambéry's strength also lies in their having players with plenty of bottle, and their top scorer is certainly of this category. With 73 goals scored so far this season, Fahrudin Melic sits in the lofty position of second on the league scoring chart, trailing only Raphaël Caucheteux and his 76 strikes. Mela is particularly well known in the capital, having worn the red and blue for three seasons between 2013 and 2016 before moving to Savoy. It has been a prolific time in France's southeast for the Montenegrin, who has scored 219 goals and twice been crowned Champion of France.
Our key stats
Locked on 19 points with upcoming opponents, Paris Saint-Germain Handball leapfrog Chambéry into second, or even better, with a win. If leaders Nantes falter at the Parnasse in Nîmes, Raul Gonzalez's men would move into top spot - and still have a match in hand over most of the other teams. A win would also augur well for Paris Saint-Germain Handball's next big clash, which comes in their postponed Round 7 clash away to Montpellier, on Sunday evening. Les Rouge et Bleu still boast the division's most prolific attack (320 goals) and its second-best defence (251 goals conceded).