Preview: Real Madrid vs. Girona – Prediction Team News
Real Madrid will be looking to record their sixth straight La Liga victory when they welcome Girona to the Bernabeu on Sunday morning.
Madrid have been victorious in their last five league fixtures to close the gap on leaders Barcelona to six points, while Girona have lost each of their last four to drop into 17th position in the table.
Not too long ago, it appeared that the 2018-19 season would go down as a very disappointing one for Madrid. It is funny how quickly things can change, though, with an impressive run of form seeing confidence return.
Madrid have risen from fourth in La Liga to second, with last weekend’s 3-1 victory away to Atletico Madrid moving the Whites just behind Barcelona. As it stands, the gap is only six points from first to second, suggesting that Santiago Solari‘s side are very much in a title race this season.
Not since January 6 have Madrid failed to win in the league, with victories over Real Betis, Sevilla, Espanyol, Alaves and Atletico in their last five. It is still Barcelona’s title to lose, but Madrid have at least placed themselves in a decent position to capitalise on any dropped points.
Los Blancos will also enter this match off the back of a 2-1 win at Ajax in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Wednesday night. The Dutch outfit were impressive on the night, but the reigning champions triumphed to place themselves in a strong position ahead of the second leg next month.
Madrid also have the Copa del Rey to think about as they prepare to host Barcelona for the second leg of their semi-final on February 27. The last-four tie is delicately poised following a 1-1 draw in the first leg earlier this month and Los Blancos will be eyeing domestic success, which has been hard to secure in recent years.
It is a huge period of the season for Solari’s side when considering that they will face Girona and Levante in their next two, before back-to-back matches against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and the league. March 5 then brings the second leg of their last-16 Champions League clash with Ajax.
Madrid have already faced Girona three times this season – once in the league and twice in the Copa del Rey – and have three victories to their name. Girona will be the fresher of the two teams, but the home side are the strong favourites to put another three points on the board.
The 2017-18 campaign proved to be Girona’s first ever season in La Liga; there is absolutely no question that the team performed above expectations, with a 10th-place finish quite remarkable.
The Catalan outfit had an excellent first half of the season, but it would be fair to say that things have dropped off in recent weeks. Indeed, they will enter this weekend’s clash with Madrid having not collected all three points in a league match since winning at Espanyol on November 25.
Since then, Eusebio Sacristan‘s side have played 10 times in the league, drawing four and losing six. Worryingly, they will enter the clash with Madrid off the back of four straight defeats, the last of which was a 2-0 home reverse to Huesca on February 9.
Only Real Valladolid have scored fewer than Girona’s 23 La Liga goals this season, which will not exactly fill the supporters with too much confidence heading to the Bernabeu on Sunday morning.
As mentioned, it will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this season and their third over the last month. The Catalan outfit lost home and away to Madrid in the Copa del Rey in January, while they suffered a 4-1 defeatin the reverse league match earlier this season.
Just one point separates 17th-placed Girona from 18th-placed Rayo Vallecano heading into Week 24 and ending the latest round of matches in the relegation zone would be a real worry for the club.
That said, Madrid do have bigger fish to fry at the moment and Girona certainly have the players to make it very difficult for Los Blancos this weekend.
Raphael Varane missed the clash with Ajax due to illness and the Frenchman did not train with his teammates on Friday, suggesting that he is unlikely to feature this weekend.
Isco has returned to the training field following a back problem, but Madrid still have injuries in the shape of Luca Zidane and Marcos Llorente, who will both miss out this weekend.
It seems likely that Solari will make changes from the clash with Ajax, meaning that Lucas Vazquez, Marco Asensioand Marcelo could return to the XI.
Jesus Vallejo was also on the bench on Wednesday night having returned from injury and the Spaniard will battle Nacho for the starting role alongside Sergio Ramos in central defence.
Girona, meanwhile, will be without the services of Bernardo Espinosa, who received a red card in his team’s 2-0 home defeat to Huesca last weekend.
Johan Mojica, Aday, Seydou Doumbia and Marc Muniesa are all still injur
Neither Anthony Lozano or Douglas Luiz featured against Huesca, but both will be hoping for minutes this weekend. Leading scorer Cristhian Stuani, meanwhile, will lead the away side’s attack.
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Nacho, Ramos, Marcelo; Ceballos, Kroos, Casemiro; Asensio, Benzema, Lucas
Girona possible starting lineup:
Bounou; R Garcia, Juanpe, Ramalho; Valery, Pons, A Garcia, Porro; Portu, Stuani, Lozano
Head To Head
As mentioned, the pair have already locked horns on three occasions this season. Madrid were 4-1 winners in the reverse league match, while they beat Girona 7-3 on aggregate in the Copa del Rey.
The first ever La Liga meeting between the two teams at the Bernabeu took place last season and Los Blancos recorded a 6-3 win, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring four times.