Preview: PSG Handball - Aix

On Wednesday evening Paris Saint-Germain Handball return to Lidl StarLigue action as fellow European contenders Aix-en-Provence come calling at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin for their Round 8 clash.

Mixed results
After finishing fifth last season, PAUC are looking to confirm their rise this season. Unfortunately for them, however, their start to the season has failed to live up to expectations, and they have suffered four defeats already. In their defence, they have been up against a number of in-form sides, like Montpellier in Round 1 (26-23) and Chambéry (25-26). Jérôme Fernandez's men have nonetheless turned in some strong performances, notably prevailing against local rivals Saint-Raphaël (31-29). After seven rounds, they sit in ninth place with six points on the board and the trip to Paris, a home clash with Nantes and a clash in Nîmes coming up.


Iron curtain
Aix's problems are certainly not stemming from their defence. In fact, they boast the division's second-best back-line, with just 179 goals conceded. While their work has been made easier by the club's giant defenders, notably Karl Konan, 'keepers Jose Baznik and Wesley Pardin are having an excellent start to the season. The France international has racked up 60 saves so far this season, putting him in fifth place among the division's stingiest 'keepers. He has also had two of his saves featured in the Top 5 Saves in season 2018-19. Conversely, the club's attacking sector is in much more difficulty, sitting ninth on the league's attacking table with 193 goals to their name.


European representatives
On Sunday, Paris Saint-Germain Handball continued their perfect start to the Velux EHF Champions League season by beating second-placed Szeged (33-31) to go clear at the top of the Group B table. Aix are also representing France on the continent this season and are currently going through qualifying for the EHF Cup. In the first round, they eliminated Icelandic club Vestmannaeyjar with a defeat in the first leg in Iceland after a long trip (24-23) followed up by a big home win in the return leg in France (36-25). They take on Danish side Holstebro in the next round.


Our key stats
Les Rouge et Bleu sit in third place on the overall Lidl StarLigue table, three points shy of leaders Nantes and two shy of Chambéry, but the capital club have a match in hand, which they will play in Montpellier in December (the match was postponed due to Montpellier's playing in the Super Globe at the end of October). In terms of statistics, Raul Gonzalez's men boast the division's best attack, with 203 goals scored, despite having played one match fewer. This prolific form in attack owes plenty to the excellent early-season performances of one Nedim Remili, who is currently the club's top scorer with 34 goals.


To follow the match (throw-off at 20:45)

(Credits: TeamPics/PSG)