After snatching a 26:26 draw last Saturday in the VELUX EHF Champions League Match of the Week, HBC Nantes are confident of claiming a ticket to the quarter-finals when they meet PSG Handball in the return leg in Paris.
“The pressure will be on their shoulders – the Champions League is their season goal, not ours. We know that if we start the game well on their court, they might freak out a little bit,” said an optimistic Olivier Nyokas after the first match.
• VELUX EHF Champions League debutants HBC Nantes travel to Paris on equal footing after a draw in the first leg.
• PSG last beat Nantes in September 2016, with a defeat and draw recorded since then.
• Uwe Gensheimer top scored the first-leg with seven goals, and leads the competition with a tally of 90 for the season.
LAST 16, SECOND LEG PSG Handball (FRA) vs HBC Nantes (FRA) Saturday 1 April, 17:00 local time, live on ehfTV
Despite being two goals behind on the scoreboard just a few minutes from the end of the first-leg Last 16 clash, Nantes gathered themselves and Dominik Klein earned his teammates a draw that almost looked like a victory.
With only 26 goals conceded, Nantes see another advantage: “Nikola Karabatic will be there for the second game, and I can foresee a more offensive match. We know that with a 27:27 or a 32:32 score in the second game, we're qualified,” said coach Thierry Anti.
But PSG don't expect things to turn that way. The return of superstar centre back Nikola Karabatic will certainly be an asset for the FINAL4 2016 participants, even though Mikkel Hansen and Daniel Narcisse fulfilled their roles perfectly last weekend.
“Without him we're a different team, but we worked as a team to find solutions. Having him back next weekend will give us more rotations and more options to win at home,” said Narcisse after the draw in Nantes.
PSG have not beaten Nantes since September, conceding a defeat and a draw, so for Luka Karabatic, not losing on away ground was already half a win.
“After our hard defeat here in December, we would have signed up for a draw before the game. Now, there are no questions to be asked – a win and we're through, it's as simple as that.”
It sounds easy on paper, but it will certainly be harder on court come Saturday.