Preview: Ivry - PSG Handball
League leaders Paris Saint-Germain Handball have one more match to play before the international break: Wednesday evening's Round 20 trip to the Gymnase Auguste Delaune to face neighbours Ivry, who have been running hot and cold this season.
Survival not yet secured
USI's season has been far from ideal so far. With just four wins in 19 matches (ten points) they are still under the threat of relegation, which lies just two point below them. Fortunately, they have taken some important points, notably winning against direct rivals Istres (29-20) and Pontault-Combault (29-22; 28-29) but also in some upset results, like their win away to Montpellier in Round 18 (30-32)!
Ivry's results are reflected in their stats. While Paris Saint-Germain Handball boast the division's top attack (616 goals scored), Ivry have been struggling to trouble opposition defences and have the 12th-best Lidl Starligue front-line with 465 goals scored. This stat has not been helped by the season-ending injury to hit-man Mahamadou Keita, who started the season well with 33 goals in 13 matches (including 8 from 9 against Istres). The good news is that Mortem Vium is still firing. The 27-year-old right-winger, who will head to Chartres next season, is the club's top scorer (and the division's ninth-best) with 89 goals.
Mate Sunjic leading the backline
The Ivry defence, on the other hand, has been doing well for some time and boast the eighth-best defensive record in the division with 523 goals conceded (compared to Paris Saint-Germain Handball's 481). This fact is due in no small part to former Créteil man Mate Sunjic, who returned to the Paris region this season after a year spent with CSM Bucarest in Romania. It was a move that evidently suited the 32-year-old Croatian 'keeper well - he is now third on the list of saves made in the Lidl Starligue, with 170 to his name in the current campaign. Sunjic also played very well against Istres, making a season-high 18 saves (the best by any 'keeper this season is 19).
A look back at recent clashes
Ivry may be defending well, but that didn't stop Paris Saint-Germain Handball from putting 38 goals past them when the sides clashed on the opening day of the season (38-21). This 17-goal margin remains the capital club's biggest of the season so far. Since then, the sides met in the Coupe de la Ligue Final4 in Le Mans in mid-March. Paris prevailed in that semi-final, Sander Sagosen's 4 from 4 and Thierry Omeyer's eight saves helping Raul Gonzalez's men to win 22-27 before going onto defeat Montpellier in the final the following day.
To follow the match (Throw-off at 20:45)
• Television: not broadcast
• Live tweet: our official page