Five things on Istres - PSG Handball

On Sunday afternoon, Paris Saint-Germain Handball end a week-long blitz of four matches, travelling to Istres in the South of France for their Lidl Starligue Round 18 clash before returning to European action on Tuesday and Thursday.

In their third consecutive season in the elite of French handball, Istres have had a great year. The Provençal team are currently ninth, but can still hope for better! Indeed, they have played only 13 matches (out of a possible 17) and can climb a few places. That Gilles Derot's men are in such a position owes to their consistency in beating relegation-threatened sides like Tremblay (29-24), Créteil (23-27) and Cesson-Rennes (26-27). For their part, Les Rouge et Bleu sit atop the standings with a gleaming record of 15 wins from as many outings - and a six-point lead over nearest rivals Montpellier (who have played one match fewer).

Key stats
Sunday will be a battle between two sides with diametrically opposed attacking styles. Our team have the best attack in the division, with 527 goals scored (average of 35.13 per game), while Istres are second-last, with 338 (average of 26). In individual terms, Nedim Remili is our top scorer with 72 goals (Torben Petersen is Istres' form shooter, with 56 goals). Defensively, Paris have the third-best defence (average of 26.07 goals conceded per game), while Istres are not far away in seventh place (average of 28.08).

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'Keepers face off
The goalkeepers on both teams are proving to be quite effective this season. This is the certainly the case for Vincent Gérard: our last bastion has shone on the French scene, already racking up 128 shots (37%) to earn a place in the top six in the division. Just behind him, we find Arnaud Tabarand and his 122 stopped attempts (31%). Tabarand, who passed through Paris in 2007-2008, has turned in some strong performances this sesason, notably making 15 saves in the relegation-tinged clash with Cesson-Rennes (26-26). His personal-best dates back to April 1, 2012. Then playing for Créteil, he handed Dunkerque a difficult evening by swatting aside 22 of their shots.

This will be the twentieth direct confrontation between Paris Saint-Germain Handball and Istres. For the moment, the balance sheet is largely in our favour, since our team has won 13 times for three draws and three defeats, and are currently on a run of seven-straight wins in the fixture. The last time we failed to beat them dates back March 27, 2011, when the two teams played out a tie (28-28). The last time the sides met in Istres, Paris dominated and won by ten goals (25-35), thanks notably to five goals from Mikkel Hansen and ten saves from Rodrigo Corrales.

To follow the match (kick-off at 15:00):
• Television: NHL TV
• Live tweet: our official page

(Credits: J. Azouze/PSG)