Preview: PSG Handball - Szeged

Handball

On Sunday afternoon, Velux EHF Champions League Group B leaders Paris Saint-Germain Handball play host to second-placed Szeged in a Round 6 clash between two sides who have won every match of the campaign so far.

Heavyweight signings
After bowing out in the round of 16 last season, Szeged worked hard behind the scenes to bring in a host of big names over the summer. Croatian 'keeper Mirko Alilovic left Veszprém for the Red and Whites, while two Spaniards - Jorge Maqueda and Joan Canellas - came in from Vardar Skopje, where they won the Velux EHF Champions League with Raul Gonzalez. Meanwhile, Slovenian playmaker Dean Bombac returned to Szeged after a two-year stint with Kielce. When you look at their draft list, you can see why Juan Carlos Pastore's side have shone so brightly in the competition this season.

 

Danger man: Bence Banhidi
Which isn't to say that these big-name arrivals haven't served to reinforce the talent already at the club. From Zsolt Balogh to Mario Sostaric (20 Velux EHF Champions League goals so far this season), passing by Bence Banhidi, there are plenty of players who pose significant danger in front of goal. Banhidi in particular has been in fine form, top-scoring for the club in Europe with 23 goals so far and standing out in encounters like the win away to Zaporozhye (31-32), when he fired 7 from 8. He also hit hard against Celje (33-24) and Zagreb (23-24), with five goals in each of those matches, and will doubtless pose a real threat to les Rouge et Bleu.

 

Not for the first time…
Just like Paris Saint-Germain Handball, Szeged are undefeated so far in the campaign (the only two clubs in the competition who can boast this). On top of that, both sides have won all their matches, meaning that Sunday's clash will more than likely be a determining factor in who ends up topping the group and earning direct qualification for the quarter-finals. The sides have met before at that stage of the competition, back in 2016-17. After winning in Hungary (27-30), les Rouge et Bleu got the job done a week later at Coubertin (30-30) - thanks to six-goal hauls from Mikkel Hansen and Luka Karabatic - and punched their ticket for the Final4 in Cologne.

 

Our key stats
While the Hungarian side boast some impressive statistics in the upper groups (notably the third-best defence, with 134 goals conceded), Raul Gonzalez's men are currently outshining their impending opponents. With 161 goals scored, they are fourth on the attacking table of the EHF's top 16 clubs. Defensively, they have conceded only 129 times - the best defensive performance of any side in Groups A or B. Thanks to these stats and a better goal difference (+32) than Szeged (+15), Paris sit atop the group. When the two sides face off on Sunday, head-to-head results will be taken into account to separate them in case they find themselves locked on points.

To follow the match (throw-off at 17:30)

(Credits: TeamPics/PSG)