… is France. Many things have been accomplished by the French handball players this year. Before the current transfer frenzy, France had qualified a club team in the top 8 of Europe and had presented an almost flawless national team in Brazil.
Last summer, Metz Handball made the headlines thanks to their Russian recruit, Ekaterina Andryushina. At that time, they were clearly taking an engagement towards the Champions League, that of starting off on equal ground with the rest of the European competitors. It was a safe bet, as the Russian link was a perfect match for Pineau and company. What is more, youngsters Claudine Mendy and Marie Prudhomme surprised with their attacking skills. Meanwhile, the defence was coordinated by Nina Kanto and sealed by Amandine Leynaud. A great adventure for them, a new market for European handball.
In Brazil, France showed character in both collective and individual play. Europe was gazing at the French wing players and dreaming of a left handed playmaker. A folly of will, technique and discipline transpired the performance of their back court players: Ayglon, Lacrabère, Pineau, Spincer, Signate, Mendy.
The story did not end in Brazil, as the audience focused on the sequel. The internal league is now aired online by the French Federation. In consequence, we were delighted to discover the close battle between Arvor29, Metz and Issy Paris.
Inevitably, the French players have received important financial offers during the winter break. So important that even the loyal Nina Kanto would consider an overseas contract. On one hand, Issy and Arvor will keep their players based on a baby-steps strategy whose goal is to win the Championship and play in the groups of the CL. On the other hand, Metz looks like a successful factory right now, whose products are cut out for the most exclusive handball societies.
The conclusion of this season will be written in May, at the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Lyon.