Early season shiners
November 21, 2016
Although there’s still one game missing in the first stage of the Champions League campaign 2016/17 the national team break allows us to have a closer look at who has made the most out of his playing time so far. Regarding the teams I think it’s fair to say that Barcelona has impressed the most, although the Catalans still have to play Paris Saint-Germain twice. Nonetheless, I rank the Spaniards quite high at the moment, with Kielce right behind them. So let’s see which players have done a very good job so far…
Goalkeeper: Filip Ivic, Kielce – no statistics available
Well, we’re living in 2016 and the official match reports on the EHF website show goalkeepers named “Unknown”, so unfortunately it’s not possible to tell you how much impact Filip Ivic has made with his new club just by the numbers. Which is quite ridiculous, but okay, maybe I’m expecting too much. Ivic has taken over from Slawomir Szmal right away, it seems, including a stunning performance at Szeged, where he saved numerous free shots from the Hungarians. Him and Andreas Wolff will have quite a race for the spot as the world’s best keeper for years to come.
Left-wing: Uwe Gensheimer, Paris – 36 goals
Some doubted that Gensheimer’s move from his hometown team, the Rhein-Neckar Löwen, to the French capital would work as smoothly as it did. But Gensheimer has cemented his status as the world’s best left-wing during his short time in Paris. In my eyes only Kielce’s Manuel Strlek comes close, but Gensheimer’s number’s are outstanding, his shot repertoire is amazing and his team has improved dramatically compared to last season. Germany’s captain is also in a good position to win this season’s scoring title, currently sitting in second place.
Left-back: Wael Jallouz, Barcelona – 26 goals
When Wael Jallouz joined German outfit THW Kiel in 2013, many were reminded of Julio Fis or Nenad Perunicic, two sharpshooting left-backs from the 90’s and 2000’s. But he never really settled in and decided to move on to Barcelona. The young Tunisian got far more playing time at the Blaugrana and improved drastically, especially last year. So far this season he has scored 26 goals in five games and his eight strikes in Flensburg and seven against Veszprem stand out. He’s the perfect example for how much of a difference self-confidence makes in sports.
Playmaker: Andy Schmid, Rhein-Neckar – 29 goals
I guess there’s hardly any doubt that Andy Schmid is the best playmaker in men’s handball today. His vision, his skills, his execution, it’s superior to everyone else’s. But suddenly he has also taken over as his team’s top scorer, at least internationally. Averaging almost six goals per game, adding his assists, leaves me with no other choice than him in this category.
Right-back: Dainis Kristopans, Brest – 23 goals
Why always go with a big name if you can go with a big player? Sorry, that was a bit cheap, but hey, Dainis Kristopans is one of the most underrated players in all of handball, if you ask me. Yes, he looks a bit clumsy at times, which is no surprise giving his seize of 2,15 m. His team Meshkov Brest has lost three out of five games, but I still have the feeling that the Latvian could make an impact at bigger clubs as well. And Meshkov still has two games left against both Kristianstad and Celje. So better watch out, especially for Kristopans.
Right-wing: Blaz Janc, Celje – 28 goals
Do you remember Mirza Dzomba, the little Croatian wizard on the right wing? The young Slovenian reminds me of Dzomba a lot. It’s hard to remember Dzomba missing a big shot during crunch time, and it’s difficult to imagine Janc missing a decisive shot when the game is on the line. After an outstanding Olympic tournament he continues to shine at his club, but I doubt Celje will be able to secure his services in the future. Rumors suggest that he has already signed for Kielce?!
Line-player: Rastko Stojkovic, Brest – 27 goals
Just like a good wine Rastko Stojkovic seems to age quite well. He has scored a personal record 89 goals in the Champions League last season and might very well top it this year. I know that he’s not playing defense, but most superior line-players don’t – case in point Julen Aguinagalde (Kielce). Stojkovic is also the emotional leader of his team and the schedule might allow Brest to win four in a row and go for third place in the group, in huge parts thanks to his great leadership.