|27.04.2017, 17:37||◄ last page|
QUARTER-FINAL PREVIEW: Although PSG are three goals up after the first leg, Szeged are not out of the competition just yet.
PSG look to secure FINAL4 berth on home court
Last Sunday, PSG defeated Szeged in Szeged 30:27 in the first leg of their quarter-final tie. While a three-goal away win in the quarter-final of the VELUX Champions League certainly does not secure a place in the VELUX EHF FINAL4, it is a step in the right direction for PSG.
Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN)
Paris were victorious in Szeged last Sunday in a very physical game. Experience made the difference towards the end, as shown by veteran Thierry Omeyer, who stopped the last-minute seven meters throw by Pedro Rodriguez Alvarez.
“We can be very proud of what we did here. The atmosphere was impressive and winning in Szeged is no easy thing. They play physical handball but we were at our best,” recalled Nikola Karabatic, who scored seven in the first leg.
Last season in the quarter-finals, PSG won by eight in Zagreb, allowing them take their foot off the pedal in the second leg. This time, as they are only three goals ahead, they must stay completely focused, especially since their opponent has got a magician on the bench: coach Juan Carlos Pastor.
“We know Juan Carlos Pastor and what he's able to do. Szeged will give their best because, now, they've got nothing to lose,” warns PSG’s Uwe Gensheimer, the current top-scorer of the competition.
PSG tough to beat at home
In the Hungarian camp, the mood was low at the end of the first leg. Szeged were counting on a home victory to keep their chance to progress. Now they face the tough task of winning in Paris, something very few teams have done.
“We know that Paris, at home, are very complicated to beat. But we have to enjoy it, play the best we can and see what happens. If we put them under pressure, maybe they'll panic and play the wrong way,” hopes coach Juan Carlos Pastor.
The last time PSG lost at home in the Champions League was against THW Kiel in November 2014. This season Veszprem, Barcelona and Kiel have all gone home empty-handed. The Parisian team know that they will be able to count on their fans to carry them to Cologne.
“We hope that our fans will give Szeged the same welcome the Hungarians gave us here,” said Nikola Karabatic with a smile after the first game.
“[Our home court] Coubertin is now one of the hardest places to win in Europe.” underlined Uwe Gensheimer.
With an average loss for visiting teams of eight goals, Szeged are facing a mountain. But they've proven this season that they might just be up to the task.
TEXT: Kevin Domas/kc