Five things on Barcelona - PSG Handball

On Monday afternoon, Paris Saint-Germain Handball return to the Lanxess Arena in Cologne! Les Rouge et Bleu will once again be taking part in the Velux EHF Champions League Final4, doing battle with rivals Barcelona in the tournament curtain-raiser.

Long time coming
Les Rouge et Bleu and the Blaugranas won the right to play in the Final4 of this 2019-20 edition by finishing in the top two spots in their group (they are once again in the same group in the 2020-21 edition). The Catalans had an almost perfect run, winning 13 times in 14 matches, with only Szeged getting the better of them, in the opening match (31-28). Thus they easily topped the group while Paris finished just behind, with 11 wins and three defeats (two against Barcelona twice and one in Szeged). In the other group, Kiel finished on top (20 points) tied with Kiel, but with a better head-to-head goal difference (they will face each other in the other semi-final).

Head to head
Recent direct confrontations between the sides have gone the way of the Spaniards. Diminished in the first leg by numerous absences, Raul Gonzalez's men nevertheless put up a Herculean resistance at the Palau Blaugrana (36-32). Deprived of Mikkel Hansen and Sander Sagosen, among others, our team remained in the match for a long time before it slipped through their fingers late in the piece. In the return leg, Cédric Sorhaindo and his partners once again won the slug-fest (32-35), thus ending the Parisians' incredible run of 56 matches without defeat at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin. On the other hand, our players won the fixture on home soil in November 2016, thanks to a then-European novice Nedim Remili, who bagged an outrageous 9 from 11 (33-26).

Key stats
If we look at last season's statistics, Monday's match will pit two of the best attacks in the competition against each other, Barcelona having racked up 485 goals and Paris 444. Sander Sagosen was our most decisive player, with 64 goals. This year, the figures are harder to compare, since the two teams did not play the same number of matches. The Catalans took part in eight matches (all wins) with 290 goals scored and 223 conceded. Les Rouge et Bleu only played six games (three wins, three losses), scored 190 goals and took 184 shots. In individual terms, Mikkel Hansen is the third-highest scorer in the competition, with 46 goals.

Paris in the Final4
Paris Saint-Germain Handball will be participating in the fourth EHF Champions League Final4 in club history. In the course of their six matches played at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, they have scored 162 goals. Once again, Mikky has proven particularly effective, with 37 goals for his team at the event (20 of which were scored in 2015-16). Even though they are yet to claim the title, the Parisians have never left Germany empty-handed. Indeed, during their first three participations, they have always managed to finish on the podium (third in 2016, second in 2017 and third in 2018). Finally, it should be noted that Dainis Kristopans will be out to defend his personal title Champion of Europe, having won the last edition with Vardar Skopje in 2019.

To follow the match (kick-off at 18:00):
• Television : beIN SPORTS 1
• Live tweet : our official page

(Credits: J. Azouze/PSG)