Tactical Insights

Preview: Girona vs. Barcelona – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s La Liga clash between Girona and Barcelona, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Barcelona will be bidding to keep their La Liga title hopes alive, mathematically at least, when they head to Catalan rivals Girona for an intriguing contest on Saturday evening.

Xavi‘s side are second in the table, 11 points behind the leaders Real Madrid and just two points clear of third-placed Girona, who are on course to secure Champions League football for next season.

Match preview

Girona coach Michel before the match on April 13, 2024© Reuters

Girona are in just their fourth-ever season in Spain’s top flight, with their highest finish proving to be 10th in both 2017-18 and 2022-23, so it is set to be a historic campaign for the club.

Michel‘s side were unable to keep pace with Real Madrid in terms of the title race, but they have managed to remain in the top four, currently sitting third in the table, two points behind second-placed Barcelona and seven points ahead of Atletico Madrid in fourth.

Girona have a 13-point advantage over fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao, meanwhile, so qualification for the Champions League could be secured this weekend, and they are already guaranteed at least a spot in the group stage of next season’s Europa League, which is a remarkable achievement in itself.

The White and Reds have been excellent on home soil this season, picking up 41 points from 16 matches in front of their own fans, but they will be welcoming a Barcelona side that have lost just once on the road this term.

Girona have won three of their last four matches in Spain’s top flight, including their last two against Cadiz and Las Palmas, scoring six times and conceding just once in the process.

If the hosts avoid defeat in this match, and Real Madrid beat Cadiz earlier in the day, then the current leaders will be confirmed as the champions with four games left.

Barcelona's Andreas Christensen celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on April 21, 2024© Reuters

Indeed, Barcelona need to win on Saturday to keep their slim title hopes alive, but not too many at the club will seriously believe that winning the championship is possible at this stage.

Xavi’s side are 11 points behind the leaders Real Madrid with five games left, so their focus will be on securing second spot in the table, with qualification for next season’s Champions League already guaranteed.

Barcelona were eliminated from the Champions League in the middle of April courtesy of a 4-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of their quarter-final, and the Catalan outfit then suffered a 3-2 loss to Real Madrid in El Clasico five days later.

The reigning La Liga champions managed to bounce back against Valencia on Monday night, though, recording a 4-2 victory over Los Che, with Robert Lewandowski hitting a hat-trick for the hosts.

Xavi will now be staying as head coach beyond the summer, so the planning for next season is underway, and there have been plenty of positive signs during the 2023-24 campaign.

Barcelona actually suffered a 4-2 defeat to Girona in the reverse match earlier this season, while the points were shared in a goalless draw when they locked horns at Camp Nou last term.

Girona La Liga form:

Barcelona La Liga form:

Barcelona form (all competitions):

Team News

Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong receives medical attention after sustaining an injury on April 21, 2024© Reuters

Girona will have to make late fitness checks on Borja Garcia and Cristhian Stuani, as the pair are struggling with muscular issues, but three players have already been ruled out, with Juanpe, Ricard Artero and Joel Roca on the sidelines for the home side.

There are not expected to be any real surprises when it comes to the Girona XI on Saturday, with Viktor Tsyhankov again likely to start on the bench due to some recent fitness problems.

Yan Couto should therefore continue down the right, with Ivan Martin and Savio also operating in the areas behind Artem Dovbyk, who has scored 19 times during an excellent first campaign in Spain’s top flight.

As for Barcelona, Gavi and Alejandro Balde remain long-term absentees, while Frenkie de Jong is unlikely to play again this season due to the ankle injury which he picked up in El Clasico.

Head coach Xavi is expected to recall Pedri into his starting side this weekend, with Fermin Lopez likely to drop out despite scoring in the success over Valencia.

Andreas Christensen should continue in central midfield, while there are unlikely to be any changes in the final third of the field, with Lewandowski again set to be supported by Raphinha and Lamine Yamal, leaving the likes of Joao Felix and Ferran Torres on the bench.

Girona possible starting lineup:
Gazzaniga; E Garcia, D Lopez, Blind, Gutierrez; Herrera, A Garcia; Couto, Martin, Savio; Dovbyk

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Cubarsi, Cancelo; Gundogan, Christensen, Pedri; Yamal, Lewandowski, Raphinha

SM words green background

We say: Girona 1-1 Barcelona

Girona have lost just once at home in the league this season, while Barcelona have drawn six of their 16 matches on their travels. We are finding it difficult to separate the two teams here, so Real Madrid could be confirmed as champions on Saturday, as we are expecting them to overcome Cadiz.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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