• The PSG hand plays its qualification for the Final Four Thursday evening, on the side of Kiel, after the draw (30-30) snatched in pain in the first leg.

  • If he managed to have his napkin ring regularly in the last four, the Parisian club never managed to go all the way and win the Champions League.

  • As it prepares to turn a page in its history with the departure of Mikkel Hansen at the end of the season, what does PSG lack to reach the heights?

While PSG handball is looking to win its ticket to the Final Four of the Champions League, Thursday evening, on the ground in Kiel, after the draw (30-30) torn with the teeth in the first leg, the club backstage is preparing to experience a small revolution with the departure of several executives, including the GOAT, the middle boss, the Dane Mikkel Hansen.

Operated on the knee and on the floor until the end of the season, the tall blond with the neck of a bull will join Aalborg not without an ounce of bitterness, that of never having won the Champions League with Paris.

Bitterness barely softened by the raid of trophies on the national scene.

"It still haunts me," he recently admitted to our colleagues from

L'Equipe

.

That's why I can't accept not being on the pitch against Kiel.

Why has Paris still not succeeded?

It is difficult to explain ".

Difficult but not impossible, right?

Avoid the parallel with PSG football

Already, if the comparison with the soccer players of the Parc des Princes is tempting, it looks like a house like a trap to avoid at all costs, as Ibrahima Diaw makes us understand, passed by Paris Handball (2002-2009) before this one does not become the PSG hand (2011-2014).

“As in football, we fly over the French championship but we get eliminated in the Champions League.

But the comparison stops there because, unlike them, we have been going to the Final Four regularly for a few years.

“And boom, in the beak!

“Of course, there have been huge investments, but Paris is still five Final Four over the last six seasons, recalls the former international Jérôme Fernandez.

It is the most regular club at this level.

So it's already a success in itself, even if it's true that the little something is still missing to bring back the trophy.

»

Bhakti Ong, the agent of many internationals, including the Karabatic brothers, invites us not to mistake the subject or the target.

“There is not a big European club that aims to win the Champions League.

No, their objective is to go to the Final Four, which is a particular exercise, he reframes.

If we look at the charts in recent years, there are very often challengers who have won, because the format is like that.

»

The Final Four, where the coin we throw in the air

"We saw teams like Kielce (in 2016) that we didn't expect in the final, Vardar Skopje, too, who won the trophy when they were outsiders (in 2017), not to mention Montpellier in 2018 “, enumerates the former Parisian goalkeeper Patrice Annonay, today in Tremblay.

From the first Parisian adventure in Final Four, in 2016, he knows how hairy the exercise is.

“I really like the example of the coin being thrown in the air because, casually, it's not that far from reality.

The format of Final Four is such that it is impossible to say who will win on arrival.

The objective is already to arrive in the four and then another competition begins.

It all depends on the states of form, the depth of the bench, the way of managing the approach to the event.

»

“In a match, anything can happen, adds Bhakti Ong.

A shot on the post, a referee's decision.

The Final Four, it's played on nothing at all, that's what makes the beauty, and the cruelty of this format.

It

's all in

on a match.

The format reduces the level differences between the teams, unlike the football Champions League.

Look, Paris could have won the C1 when there was the elimination format on a match.

Going back and forth, it's more complicated”.

Not to mention that if the PSG hand attracts more attention and crystallizes the craziest expectations since the arrival of Qatari gasodollars, opposite also the arms race is raging.

Jérôme Fernandez: "When we look at the workforce of Barça, Kiel or Veszprém, the names are perhaps a little less flashy because they are not French and we look at it through our national prism, but I can make sure they are armadas that are on the same level as PSG.

And yet, a club like Veszprém has also been chasing the trophy for thirty years without ever getting there.

»

But what do you want, we do not redo.

We will always be very (too?) demanding with a club like PSG.

The fault also lies with its leaders, who clearly did not wait for us to trumpet everywhere their desire for domination and glory.

A PSG less bling next season

The whole issue is whether the club will one day manage to win the Champions League, he who will enter a new, less flashy cycle next season with the departures of Mikkel Hansen, Nadim Remili or Vincent Gérard.

Less flashy because, contrary to what one might think, PSG Handball no longer has the financial depth of its beginnings.

With losses estimated at 300 million euros on the football side with the Covid crisis, Doha seems set to reduce the handball players.

"Everyone says that Paris is the richest club in the world but it's absolutely false," Bhakti Ong annoys.

When we look at the payrolls, we can clearly see the differences.

The cost of labor is not the same in France (…), we cannot fight.

The other clubs are better equipped.

Why is Remili going to Poland?

Because Kielce can win the Champions League and he will earn, after taxes, 200,000 euros net more than what he earns in Paris.

»

“It is true that we feel a change of policy dawning at PSG, we will perhaps be looking less for stars but for young people with high potential, French in particular, as was the case with Prandi or Gibelin, notes Fernandez, who does not see this transformation with a bad eye.

The current coach is one of those who are able to make this team shine without necessarily having only big stars in the locker room.

»

While waiting to change gear, the Parisians will have one last chance to shine with this group.

"It's 55-45 for Kiel, who plays at home, so it's far from lost," said the former captain of the Blues.

And Patrice Annonay to conclude: “A lot of players will leave at the end of the season, ok.

But we can just rely one last time on this collective, on this common experience in chess to, why not, finally get the trophy this year.

»

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