Preview: PSG Handball - Zaporozhye
Already assured of finishing in top spot in Velux EHF Champions League Group Paris Saint-Germain Handball round out their group-stage campaign against surprise packet Zaporozhye at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin on Sunday.
Both sides already qualified
Zaporozhye's 33-23 win over Skjern in Round 13 assured the Ukrainians of a place in the last 16 and the fifth-placed side could face Paris Saint-Germain Handball once again if they win in the knockout rounds. Meanwhile, the capital club qualified directly for the quarter-finals by securing top spot in the group last week. They will face the winner of the last 16 clash between Group B's fifth-placed side (Zaporozhye or Zagreb) and Group A's fourth-placed side (Kielce or Rhein-Neckar Löwen).
Pukhouski's excellent campaign
While surprising to many, Zaporozhye's qualification for the knockout rounds has been far from accidental. They have pulled off some excellent results, notably beating Flensburg 28-26, Celje (36-27) and Nantes away (23-27), none of which they could have done without a proven goalscorer. And, happily for the Ukrainians, they have exactly such a figure: Barys Pukhouski. With 75 goals to his name, the Belarusian is the competition's second-top scorer and has notably terrorised the defences Nantes and Flensburg, with eight and nine goals against those clubs respectively.
A look back at the first match
In their campaign opener, Raul Gonzalez's managed to contain Pukhouski, who only managed five goals. It was Zaporozhye's first-ever match in the competition's upper groups, and although they put on a good display, it was Paris who came out on top in a perfect start to their European campaign (29-35). Nedim Remili notably 8 from 14, while Thierry Omeyer made 12 saves and scored three goals!
Our key stats
Paris Saint-Germain Handball boast the competition's second-most dangerous attack, with 424 goals in 13 matches. For the moment only Barcelona (456 goals) have out-scored them. But Paris' strength also lies at the back, where their defence have conceded just 360 goals all campaign long. Once again, only one side in the upper groups - Veszprém (347) - have outdone them.