Preview: Zagreb - PSG Handball
On Saturday night, Paris Saint-Germain Handball travel to Croatia to take on Zagreb - an opponent capable of scintillating performances - in Velux EHF Champions League Round 3 action.
Disappointment and redemption
After failing to progress from the group stage last season, Zagfeb are hoping to do much better this time around. Unfortunately though they haven't started as well as they might have hoped, with the visit of Szeged at the Dvorana Gradski Vrt going south. Despite leading at the break (12-9), the Croatians slumped in the second half and conceded their first defeat of the campaign (23-24). This put them on the back foot for their clash with Flensburg three days later but, after leading for much of the match, they pulled clear in the final minutes thanks to David Mandic (8 from 9) and 'keeper Urh Kastelic (29-31).
Three in a row in the league
The situation in the SEHA League, which brings together Eastern Europe's top teams, is more or less the same for the Blue and Whites. Right at the outset of the season in late August, they lost away to compatriots RK Nexe Nasice. But since then, they have been firing on all cylinders, Lino Cervar's men clinching three wins in a row. Their last win came on Sunday in Vojvodina (20-23). The in-form Kastelic contributed another eight saves while Zlatko Horvat struck five times. Thanks to this win, Zagreb climbed to third place on the table, behind Vardar Skopje and Nexe but ahead of Meshkov Brest.
Horvat the talisman
Once again decisive in his side's league win last week, Zlatko Horvat continues to turn in superb performances. The 34-year-old winger, at the club since 2002, top-scored for the Blue and Whites last season with 54 goals. In 2018-2019, after just three matches, he has already struck 15 times (eight times against Szeged, seven against Flensburg). He has also been in fine form for his country, winning six medals with Croatia at the Euros, the Olympics and the World Championships. Doubtless on Saturday night he will be one of his team's main weapons, as he was when he struck eight times in the return leg of the Velux EHF Champions League quarter-finals against Paris Saint-Germain Handball at the Halle Carpentier in 2016 (32-32).
Our key stats
After two rounds, Paris Saint-Germain Handball top their group with two wins from as many matches, alongside Skjern and Szeged. And they have already amassed some impressive stats, with a superior goal difference (+18), the second-best attack in the higher groups (68 with a match in hand on Rhein-Neckar Löwen, who have 100) and the second-best defence (50 goals conceded). Furthermore, Nedim Remili has been in fine form, top scoring for Paris 12 goals so far, while Rodrigo Corrales has already racked up 17 saves - all of which came in the Round 2 win over Celje.
To follow the match (throw-off at 20:00)
- Television: beIN SPORTS 3
- Live tweet: our official page