Preview: Saint-Raphaël - PSG Handball
After beating Aix on Thursday night (20-29), Paris Saint-Germain Handball continue their tour of the south of France.Already crowned Champions of France, Les Rouge et Bleu now head to the Palais des Sports Jean-François Krakowski in Saint-Raphaël for their Lidl Starligue Round 23 clash on Sunday afternoon.
Europe out of reach
After finishing fifth last season and reaching the 2018 EHF Cup final - with a run to the quarters this time around - Saint-Raphaël would have loved to make a return to Europe next season. Unfortunately for them, their inconsistency (nine wins, three draws and ten defeats) has cost them dearly. They currently sit in seventh place with a 12-point deficit behind fifth-placed Chambéry (only the top five spots get a European berth) and will thus miss out on continental competition.
A look back at recent clashes
Which isn't to suggest that SRVHB are an easy side top push around. Every clash with them is a tough one: in 2017-18 Les Rouge et Bleu only beat them in final seconds, when Mikkel Hansen struck from the penalty line to linch two precious points in the race for the title (25-26). A year earlier, at Coubertin, it took a quadruple from Thierry Omeyer (28-24) to come out on top, and in the current campaign, the capital club were stunned by Saint-Raphaël in the Trophée des Champions semi-final (25-26) as well as struggling to contain Lidl Starligue top scorer Raphaël Caucheteux, who fired 9 from 9 in the first league meeting this season (32-29).
It's no surprise that confrontations between the clubs are generally spectacular affairs, as they concern tow of the league most prolific attacks. While Paris are the club to have scored the most this season (715 goals in 22 matches), Joël Da Silva's men are also in the top five (639). Aside from Caucheteux, our team also need to watch out for Belarusian left-back Vadim Gayduchenko, who has bagged 81 goals so far in his debut Lidl Starligue season. At the back, our 'keeper have been marshalling the division's second-tightest defence (551 goals conceded), while Saint-Rapahël sit in tenth on the same table (619 goals conceded).
Champions of France!
Paris Saint-Germain Handball's win in Aix saw officially crowned Champions of France for the sixth time in club history and the fifth time in a row, which equals Montpellier's record. Raul Gonzalez's squad have had an excellent season, with 43 points from a possible 44 taken in their first 22 matches. Only USAM has managed to avoid defeat against the capital club, clinching a 28-28 draw at the end of September. Paris Saint-Germain Handball will now try to end the season as well as possible, which means maintint their undefeated status in the league, a run that has been going since December 2017.
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To follow the match (throw-off at 16:00)
• Television: beIN SPORTS 2
• Live tweet: our official page
(Credits: J. Azouze/PSG)