Preview: Dunkerque - PSG Handball
On Saturday night, Paris Saint-Germain Handball take part in Lidl Starligue Round 9 action. Les Rouge et Bleu travel to Dunkerque for what promises to be a tough match against a side who have proven to be all business since the beginning of the season.
Strong league form
Not counting matches against heel league's biggest guns, you could say that US Dunkerque are having a magnificent start to the season. After being held to a draw at home to Istres on the opening day of the season (23-23), USDK have been scooping up the points when they have been on offer. They are currently on a run of three-straight league wins. Having beaten Aix (26-24), Toulouse (30-31) and Cesson-Rennes (25-17). They have also cooked up some nervy moments for the 'big' teams, notably in Nantes (20-19) and Montpellier (25-24). Doubtless they will be looking to add the current French champions to their list.
A solid back-line
Heading into this Round 9 clash, the team from the north of France sit in seventh place on the Lidl Starligue table with a match in hand over Saint-Raphaël, who have a just a one-point advantage over them. In terms of stats, Patrick Cazal's men boast the league's best defence, with just 185 goals conceded in eight matches - a figure that Oleg Grams (48 saves) and Samir Bellahcene (41) have played a key role in. Up front. On the other hand, things are a bit tougher, with the side 11th on the attacking table with just 106 goals scored. This lack of cutting edge has a t times cost them dearly.
A look back at the Coupe de la Ligue clash
This is not the first official meeting of the two sides this season - they did battle for a place in the Coupe de la Ligue quarters in late October at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin. Les Rouge et Bleu managed to come out on top (34-23), thanks notably to an excellent performance from Thierry Omeyer, who made an amazing 22 saves at a rate of 50%. Up front, Sander Sagosen and Nedim Remili also turned in strong performances, each bagging five goals.
Our key stats
Ahead of the trip to Dunkerque, Paris Saint-Germain Handball are in fourth place with two matches in hand compared to the three sides - Chambéry, Nantes and Nîmes - who sit above them on the table. The capital club would claim top spot with wins in these two postponed matches (away to Dunkerque and Montpellier) thanks to an excellent goal difference of +50. Even though they have only played seven matches, Paris are sixth on the attacking table (234 goals scored), 29 goals short of leaders Saint-Raphaël, who have played nine matches. In defence, Raul Gonzalez's men have the division's best record with just 184 goals conceded.
To follow the match (Throw-off at 20:30)
• Television: beIN SPORTS 3
• Live tweet: our official page