Competition Focus

Barcelona 2-4 Girona – Barca humbled by visitors in huge La Liga result as blow for title chances

Girona went top of La Liga as they produced a fine performance to record their first ever win over Barcelona, beating the Culers 4-2 in a top of the table thriller at the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.

Needing an unlikely victory to overtake Real Madrid and take advantage of Los Blancos uncharacteristically dropping points to Real Betis a day earlier, Miguel Sanchez’s side, who find themselves in the most improbable of title charges, showed their true mettle as they subdued the expectant home support to a chorus of furious whistles.

In an end-to-end encounter fully worthy of its pre-match hype, it was Girona who opened the scoring, with Artem Dovbyk, the Ukrainian striker, sweeping home on 12 minutes after Viktor Tsygankov, his compatriot, had been released down the right flank.

Robert Lewandowski powered home a header six minutes later to level for Barca, who were under the cosh for large periods of the first half, with Girona left wing-back Miguel Gutierrez proving a thorn in the side of the hosts, who couldn’t pick up his constant dips into midfield to create numerical overloads.

Paulo Gazzaniga, the visiting goalkeeper, stayed strong at his near post to deny Joao Cancelo just after the half-hour, and Gutierrez had Inaki Pena in the Barcelona goal scrambling with an effort just wide of the far post on 38 minutes.

A minute later, Gutierrez had his goal, driving into the open grass in the left half-space, and his arrowed finish swerved away from Pena at the last to nestle inside the near post to put Girona back in charge at the break.

Barca upped the tempo after the interval as Xavi cut a frustrated figure in the home technical area, and speculative efforts from long-range from Ilkay Gundogan and Frenkie de Jong suggested there was an element of desperation from the Blaugrana as they streaked forward with greater urgency.

A curling effort from Gundogan narrowly missed the far corner, and Ferran Torres’ introduction down the left flank added more thrust and guile to Barca’s attacks, but their profligacy would prove their ultimate downfall, as two Girona substitutes linked up to kill the game off.

A long ball was pumped forwards towards Cristian Stuani, the former Middlesbrough striker, and the Uruguayan flicked it on excellently, for Valery to hare after. The right wing-back shrugged off the despondent Cancelo before nutmegging Jules Kounde, and he slotted coolly beyond the onrushing Pena to send his side back to the summit.

Gundogan characteristically burst into the box in injury time as he swivelled and struck into the far corner to set up a grand-stand finish, but Girona weren’t done themselves, as Stuani turned scorer, delivering one final knockout blow as Savinho exposed the open space left behind by the home defence, standing it up for Stuani to nod home the fourth.


Barca v Girona

Image credit: Getty Images


Those that have not watched La Liga this season may well have laughed when they saw Girona’s position in the table, but after this performance, maybe Miguel Sanchez’s side will be taken a bit more seriously.

The visitors employed the perfect game plan to nullify the Barcelona threat, with a rigid defensive structure that proved difficult to penetrate, not allowing the dynamic Culers midfield to pick up pockets between the lines.

The two ‘wide men’, Savinho and Tsygankov, operated more centrally to create a box midfield to swamp the Barca engine room, but in attacking transition, they spread wide quickly to accommodate for the wing-backs moving inside.

That was particularly the case on the left with Miguel Gutierrez, who proved especially tricky to track, prompting Xavi to stick Frenkie de Jong on the former Real Madrid prospect in the second half.


Barcelona – Girona

Image credit: Getty Images


The complete wing-back display.

Aggressive both going forwards and in the challenge, dangerous with his crosses and his shooting, and intelligent in his attacking movement, this was some performance from a full-back who has gone under the radar in this overachieving team.

You know when you’re assigned a man-marker that you’re doing something right, and his goal, the second of Girona’s four, was the pick of the bunch, smashed inside the near post to give Pena no chance and set the Albirrojos on their way to a famous victory.


Valery of Girona FC celebrates after scoring a goal with 07 Stuani of Girona FC during the La Liga EA Sports Match match between FC Barcelona v Girona FC at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys

Image credit: Getty Images


Barcelona: Pena 6, Kounde 5, Araujo 5, Christensen 6, Cancelo 5, de Jong 6, Gundogan 6, Pedri 5, Raphinha 5, Lewandowski 6, Felix 5. Subs: Torres 7, Yamal 6, Balde 6, Fermin 6.

Girona: Gazzaniga 7, Garcia 7, Lopez 7, Blind 7, Couto 6, Martin 6, Garcia 6, Gutierrez 8, Tsygankov 7, Savinho 7, Dovbyk 7. Subs: Stuani 7, Portu 6, Valery 7, Solis 6.


12′: GOAL! Girona are ahead, and it’s Dovbyk who’s got it! The visitors go more direct towards the Ukrainian, who peels off onto Christensen, and it’s worked nicely into the right channel for Tsygankov to chase. He spots his striker haring into the box alongside him, and Dovbyk sweeps home for 1-0!

19′: GOAL! Barca are level, and it’s their talisman, Robert Lewandowski! A great delivery from Raphinha finds the Pole, who is too strong for his marker Ivan Martin, and he powers the header beyond Gazzaniga.

41′: GOAL! But he scores this time! Gutierrez puts Girona back in charge here, and it’s a beauty! The left wing-back drives at the retreating Barca defence, and he shoots, taking Pena by surprise as he smashes it home, beating the keeper at his near post!

81′: GOAL! Instant impact from Valery, as Girona establish a two-goal cushion. Route one stuff this time, pumped up towards Stuani, who flicks it on excellently, and Valery hares after it, nutmegging Kounde, before slotting coolly beyond Pena!

90+2′: GOAL! Barcelona are back in it with three minutes to go! Ilkay Gundogan swivels and strikes into the far corner! Game on!

90+5′: GOAL! Stuani has won it for Girona! Barcelona are caught far too high up the field, and Savinho breaks down the left. Stuani ghosts in at the far post, and his header from the Brazilian’s cross is too powerful for Pena to paw out!


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