Five things on Dunkerque - PSG Handball
After its qualification for the quarterfinals of the EHF Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain Handball are back in Lidl StarLigue action on Sunday afternoon, taking on Dunkerque - a team who are never easy to handle, especially at the Stade des Flandres - in their Round 22 fixture.
1 - The table
Both teams have played the same number of matches: 18. Unfortunately, the Northerners have not taken advantage of this fact to earn a place near the top of the table; they have already lost 11 games, with five wins and two draws. On 12 points, they are virtually only two points above of the drop zone, but Patrick Cazal's men have managed some good results, such as the victory against Limoges (32-28) and in Toulouse (27-31). On the other hand, Les Rouge et Bleu continue to dominate the league with a perfect record of 18 wins from 18 matches, sitting atop the standings with a two-point lead (with a match in hand) over nearest rivals Montpellier.
2 - Dunkerque's strengths
After four years with the Yellow and Black, Oleg Grams left USDK prematurely, a few months before the end of his contract with. But while the departure of the Russian goalkeeper was a rough blow, Dunkerque can console themselves with the fact that they still have one of the league's best 'keepers in Samir Bellahcene (126 saves made since the beginning of the season). In attack, we find three Paris Saint-Germain Handball youth academy graduates: Dylan Garain, Steve Marie-Joseph and Dunkerque's top scorer Tom Pelayo, who has 54 goals in 18 appearances this season. Finally, it is impossible not to mention the name of Baptiste Butto. The 34-year-old left winger is the second-highest scorer in the history of our championship, with 1487 career Lidl Starligue strikes.
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3 - Key stats
Sunday's duel will be an opposition of styles. Indeed, it will pit the LSL's best attack - Paris Saint-Germain Handball, with 627 goals scored (34 per game) - and the third-tightest defence - Dunkerque, who have conceded only 471 times. Note that in this area, the capital club is also very effective, having conceded only 461 goals; only Nantes have a better record (431). Raul Gonzalez's men could also make history - with a win, they will set a new club record of 19 consecutive wins from the start of a season and also inch closer to equalling the outright record held by Montpellier.
4 - Head to head
Historically, this will be the 31st time that Dunkerque and Paris face each other. The record is largely in favour of our club, who have won 20 times, conceding one draw for nine defeats. They are undefeated for more than seven years against USDK, with the last setback dating all the way back to 27 March 2014 at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin (25-27). At the time, Vincent Gérard was on the other side and saved no fewer than ten Parisian shots. Since then, Les Rouge et Bleu have put together a 12-game winning streak. Last December, the two teams met in the league in last match of the calendar year (30-20). Elohim Prandi was particularly impressive, hitting 6 from 6.
5 - To follow the game (throw-off at 17:00):
• Television: beIN SPORTS 3
• Live tweet: our official page