Preview: PSG Handball - Nantes

On Thursday, Paris Saint-Germain Handball do battle with Nantes once again. This time, at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin, they clash in a very important Lidl StarLigue Round 17 fixture.

Widen the gap
Should they win, Les Rouge et Bleu will take a commanding lead atop the Lidl StarLigue standings. Their nearest rivals - who could well be Montpellier by the end of the Round 17 action - would be at least four points adrift of our club. If Montpellier stumble away to Aix on Wednesday, Paris would go a full five points clear. On the other hand, should Paris lose, Nantes would be right back into the race for the title. Thus there is little doubt that Thursday's crunch clash will be a turning point in the season!




Still alive in Europe
The Velux EHF Champions League group stage ended last week, and the good news for Nantes and Paris is that they are both still alive in European competition. Our team, who topped Group B, will skip the round of 16 and face the winner of Kielce and Zaporozhye in the quarter-finals, when the objective will clearly be to qualify for the Final4 in Cologne for the fourth year in a row. Meanwhile, Nantes take on German club Rhein-Neckar Löwen, in the round of 16.




Recent meetings
Thursday's match will be the fifth time that Raul Gonzalez's men have taken on Thierry Anti's side in season 2018-19. For the moment, the Parisians have had the better of it overall, with four wins and just one defeat. This lone loss (45-46) came right at the start of the season, when it went down to a crazy penalty shoot-out in the Trophée des Champions' third-place play-off. Since then, be it in the Lidl StarLigue (29-30), the Velux EHF Champions League (35-34; 31-25) or the Coupe de la Ligue (34-30), the capital club have tasted victory every time.




Our key stats
Both sides have a tendency to play high-scoring matches, and are duly in first and second place on the league's attacking table (507 goals Paris, 486 for Nantes). Les Rouge et Bleu are also specialists in defence, their miserly total of 402 goals conceded giving them the second-best defensive record in the competition. Only Chambéry (401have done better, while The H find themselves in sixth place on the list (429). Finally, in individual terms, there will be a duel between Valero Rivera (the league's third-top scorer on 101 goals) and Parisiens Mikkel Hansen (90) and Nedim Remili (85).




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

(Credits: TeamPics/PSG)