Girona host Real Madrid in La Liga this Sunday. The Catalans will be hoping for a repeat of last season’s shock win in one of the most politically-charged fixtures in Spanish football in recent times. Read on for our match preview and predictions.
DATE/TIME – Sunday 26th August 2018, 22:15 (CEST)
STADIUM – Estadi Montilivi, Girona
COMPETITION – La Liga
This fixture last season took place just four weeks after Catalonia’s independence referendum which led to a fairly brutal crackdown. It was a politically-charged affair and Girona’s shock 2-1 win was celebrated wildly, not least by the exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, a supporter of the club. Nearly twelve months on and while there is still anger in Catalonia about what happened last year, there isn’t quite the same backdrop to this game and football will certainly be the focus on Sunday.
Both teams are under new management but haven’t made the most convincing of starts to life under their new bosses. Girona could only draw 0-0 on the opening day against newly promoted Real Valladolid. They did have much the better of the game but already there is the feeling that it’s a game they would have won last term. There has also been speculation that their top scorer from last season Cristhian Stuani could move before the transfer window closes so there are a few reasons for fans of the Catalan clubs to be concerned right now.
Real Madrid did pick up a morale-boosting opening day victory though. They beat Getafe 2-0 at home to ease some of the concern following that UEFA Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid. Julen Lopetegui would have been pleased to see both Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema score too and he will need both to have big seasons given the departure of 40+ goal/season Ronaldo and the lack of major additions up front.
Girona vs Real Madrid Predictions
- Both Teams to Score
Both teams played against very defensively minded sides on the opening day. Getafe played 4-5-1 and essentially parked the bus at the Bernabeu and they are a well-organised side. Here though Los Blancos should have much more space to play in as Girona are a more attacking side, that isn’t necessarily well-suited to a back to the wall defensive effort. They will have a go and showed regularly last term that they have players capable of causing problems for the top teams so a relatively open game looks likely and it should produce goals at each end.
- Bale to score anytime
Gareth Bale is the one man who has really benefited from both the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. Almost overnight he’s gone from fringe player to possible talisman and he may thrive on that challenge. With 8 goals in his last 8 games for Los Blancos, he’s sure to be a threat.
- 2-1 Real Madrid
Girona were very successful last season playing with really attack-minded wing-backs. They scored five times against Real Madrid, largely thanks to that tactic however already Eusebio has moved to a more conventional back four. That could be a mistake and Real may not find this trip to Girona quite as tough as they did last season.
Girona vs Real Madrid Match Stats
- Girona are winless in six home matches in La Liga.
- They’ve never previously gone so many top flight games without a victory.
- Eusebio has lost all his previous matches against Real Madrid as a coach.
- Los Blancos have lost just 2 of their last 21 in La Liga.
- 7 of their last 9 league games have seen both teams score.
Head to Head
The first ever league meetings took place term and provided plenty of goals. Real won 6-3 at home having lost 2-1 in Girona earlier in the season.
Predicted Line Ups
Girona Predicted Line Up:
Bono – Porro, Espinosa, Juanpe, Benitez – Granell, Pons, Garcia – Portu, Stuani, Garcia (4-3-3)
Real Madrid Predicted Line Up:
Navas – Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Carvajal – Modric, Casemiro, Kroos – Isco, Benzema, Bale (4-3-3)