Paris ready for the new season
Twenty-four hours after their victory in Chartres (31-35), Paris Saint-Germain Handball were back in action on Saturday afternoon, taking on fellow Liquid Moly StarLigue side Dunkerque in their final pre-season friendly, at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin.
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As was the case in the first three in the first three matches, Paris took some time to get going. The Northerners came to Paris with the intention of giving themselves a confidence boost before the beginning of the league season next week; to claim the scalp of the reigning French Champions would have been a real shot in the arm. Thus our players found themselves down - but far from out - in the early stages.
But this time it didn't take an entire half of handball for Les Rouge et Bleu to turn things around. With ten minutes to go before the break, Mikkel Hansen and his teammates stepped up to the plate - and they needed to in order to challenge a Samir Bellahcene who was looking imperious in the visitors' goal. Our defence became much more solid, and our attack started to find the gaps in the USDK defence.
At the break, the Parisians further extended their advantage and led by three goals. The self-sacrifice made the difference and Raul Gonzalez's men went into the break deserved leaders.
As the second half began, our team maintained the pressure. Thanks to several saves from Vincent Gérard and some well executed counter-attacks, they made the difference and carved out a considerable lead. A successful turning of the tide epitomised by Elohim Prandi, who was in dazzling form in front of goal...
... and ready to tee one up for Mathieu Grébille.
As the minutes ticked by, the Parisians' lead continued to grow. Every attack was successful and Les Rouge et Bleu went ten goals to the good with yet another strike from Mathieu...
... and then to +15 when Elohim defied the laws of gravity to almost take blow the netting off Dunkerque's goal.
Paris Saint-Germain Handball held out for a big win (37-25), continuing their perfect pre-season record with a fourth win from as many games. The league campaign will start next Friday, when Istres come calling at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin. As a reminder, you can still get tickets to come and cheer Paris Saint-Germain Handball on in person!
Reactions from Yann Genty and Mathieu Grébille:
(Credits: J. Azouze/PSG)