Girona – FC Barcelona (La Liga)
Girona and Barcelona come face to face this Sunday ,at the Estadi Montilivi, in Girona, for the 6th round of La Liga. This recently-promoted Girona put and end to their two consecutive defeats by drawing at Leganés’s ground in the previous round, but they will have to face their Catalonia neighbor who is in superb form. Barcelona, on their turn, have been enjoying a fantastic start of the season, a start that puts this catalan side at the top of the league table, being the last team in the Spanish top flight to hold a 100% record.
Girona are in the 14th position in the league table, result of 1 victory, 2 draws and 2 losses. Girona reached, for the first time in the club’s history, the top tire of Spanish football, and have even enjoyed a good start of it by drawing in the first round against Atletico Madrid and winning soon after against Malaga, but quickly fell and lost the two following games, against Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla. Still, this recently-promoted side were able to get a draw in the last round at Leganés’s home and ended their serie of two consecutive defeats.
The Albirrojos do not aim for the top spots in the league table in this first year in La Liga, with maintenance being their main goal of the season. This catalan side is aggressive by nature, they usually play with width, attack mainly down the left flank and attempt to cross often since they are strong in aerial duels. Still, they have a lot defensive difficulties, as in defending counter-attacks, and commit a lot of individual erros to close to their penalty box.
In their last 5 official matches, Girona has a record of 1 win, 2 draws and 2 losses. This sequence of results started with a 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid. This result was followed by a 1-0 win against Malaga, a 2-0 defeat against Athletic Bilbao, a 0-1 defeat against Sevilla, and in their last round, a 0-0 draw against Leganés. Timor and Luis Suarez are both out due to injury.
Probable Lineup: Iraizoz – Espinosa, Alcalá and Juanpe – Maffeo, Granell, Pons and Benítez – Portu, Stuani and García.
FC Barcelona, on their turn, are at the top of the league table with 15 points, result of 5 victories, with 17 goals scored and 2 goals conceded. The catalans entered in the Spanish league in the most desired way, wining all the five challenges that have been imposed so far, and have even beaten the mighty Juventus by 3-0, in the first round of Group D of the Champions League. Now, the Culés will face their neighbor before traveling to Portugal in order to face Sporting CP, for the next round of the Champions League, but with Sevilla only 2 points behind, a victory here is mandatory.
In the last round, Barcelona trashed Eibar, beating them by 6-1, with another magic show for Messi, who scored a poker, and with team proving, once again, that they are adapting very quickly to Ernesto Valverde’s philosophies. Defensively, there are yet a few aspects to improve, with the catalans having difficulties in aerial duels and in defending against long shots, but they compensate these negative aspects with their huge offensive versatility, being lethal in counter-attacks, they are very strong in creating long shot opportunities and in finishing scoring chances, and also count with extremely talented players, which makes this team very dangerous in creating chances through individual skill. Messi is the top scorer of the Spanish league, with 9 goals scored in only 5 games played.
In their last 5 official games, Barcelona has a record of 5 victories. This sequence of results started with a 02 win against Alavés. This result was followed by a 5-0 win against Espanyol, a 3-0 win over Juventus, for the Champions League, a 1-2 win against Getafe, and in their last round, a 6-1 win over Leganés. Rafinha and Dembélé are both out due to injuries.
Probable Lineup: Stegen – Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti and Alba – Busquets, Rakitic and Iniesta – Messi, Suárez and Deulofeu.
The only time these teams face each other was in 1949, with Barcelona winning 9-0 for the round of 16 in the Copa del Rey.
This match against Barcelona will be the first major test for Girona. Barcelona have Sevilla and Atletico Madrid on their heels, and with a Champions League meeting at midweek, the Blaugranas will look to get early on the scoresheet and get a comfortable result so they can control the game at their rhythm in order to manage fatigue.