Preview: PSG Handball - Skjern
On Saturday evening, Paris Saint-Germain Handball return to Velux EHF Champions League action with their Round 10 clash against Skjern at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin, where a win could make a huge difference for Les Rouge et Bleu.
Still in the running
Despite five defeats in nine matches, Skjern are still in the running for a place in the last 16. The Danes are actually in a favourable position given their current lead over Celje and Zagreb, who both have six points, but an inferior goal difference could still be their undoing. They will thus have to be careful as they travel to Croatia on 10 February and when they play host to the Slovenian side on the final day of the group stage if they are to punch their ticket for the knockout rounds. Skjern can still finish as high as third, as they trail Flensburg by four points but with a match in hand after the German side beat Szeged on Wednesday.
Just a point shy of qualification
Meanwhile Paris, despite losing to Szeged last week (33-32), remain in pole position in Group B. A single point on Saturday would be enough for Raul Gonzalez's men to qualify for the last 16, but they are of course hoping to duo better than that. Following Szeged's defeat in Germany in mid-week, Les Rouge et Bleu have another ace up their sleeve in the race to finish on top of the group and qualify directly for the quarter-finals. Thus a win on Saturday would be a big step towards skipping the last 16, as Henrik Toft Hansen discussed in this interview:
A look back at the first match
In the first match between the sides this season, at the Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning back in mid-October, the capital club had to battle long and hard to dispose of an excellent Skjern side. The Danes' goalkeeper, Emil Nielsen, made things extremely difficult for the visitors, with 19 saves (43%). It took the clinical finishing of Mikkel Hansen to get the better of his Denmark teammate - with a seven-goal haul - to put Paris in front before Benoît Kounkoud made sure of the win in the dying seconds (24-26).
Our key stats
Paris Saint-Germain Handball are in an excellent position with five matches left to play, having claimed eight wins in nine outings, losing just once. Paris owe this superb record to strong performances in every sector, notably the defence. Indeed, Thierry Omeyer and Rodrigo Corrales are the lynchpins of the highest defence in the upper groups, with just 241 goals conceded. Only Ademar Leon in Group D have done better (227). In attack, the capital club is also firing on all cylinders, thanks to back-line trio Nedim Remili (47 goals), Mikkel Hansen (45) and Sander Sagosen (40). Together they boast the second-best attack in the group (282 goals) and trail Szeged - who have played one more match - by just 18 goals.
To follow the match (Throw-off at 17:30)
• Television: beIN SPORTS 1
• Live tweet: our official page