New Delhi, Dec 6 (IANS): At the start of the current season, few would have expected that the Matchday 16 clash between FC Barcelona and Girona FC would be a contest between two of the teams who are battling near the top of the LaLiga EA Sports standings.
Yet, the historic start of the team coached by Michel has made it so. This Catalan derby will be a top-of-the-table clash, between one club that is always in the title picture and one causing the season’s major shock.
Girona FC, boasting the likes of Aleix García, Savio and Artem Dovbyk, have been the surprise package of this Spanish football season. They’re also particularly tough to play when they travel, as Michel’s boys are unbeaten away from home this season. They have won six games and drawn one away from the Estadi Montilivi.
Only Real Sociedad, on the opening matchday, were able to avoid defeat at home to Girona FC, who have conquered the stadiums of Sevilla FC, Granada CF, Villarreal CF, Cádiz CF, CA Osasuna and Rayo Vallecano.
Xavi will want his FC Barcelona side to assert themselves as the stronger team and deny Girona FC their first derby win this weekend. In the six previous meetings between the sides in the top tier, Los Blaugrana have won four and drawn twice. Moreover, in the last three meetings, Barca haven’t allowed their opponents from the north of Catalonia to score a single goal.
It might be trickier to keep a clean sheet this time around, however, considering that Michel’s side are one of the highest scoring teams in Europe, with goalscorers in all positions. From the aerial prowess of David Lopez, a defender who can cause problems at the other end, to the goals from midfield of Yangel Herrera and Iván Martín to the force of nature that is Dovbyk up front.
The match is also going to be a special one for Oriol Romeu, who will be wearing blue and red this time around, after playing in Girona FC’s red and white last term. Similarly, Eric García and Pablo Torre will face their former teammates as they’re both on loan at Girona FC from Barça this season, enjoying more minutes and hoping to return to Xavi’s squad in the future. These three players will be reunited on the pitch with their former teammates and experience the derby in a unique way.
There will also be an interesting duel in the dugouts between two coaches who like to play attacking football and who want the ball. The battle for possession will be key, as these two teams boast several of the players with the most passes in the competition: Frenkie de Jong (92 per game), Aleix Garcia (70), Jules Kounde (69), Andreas Christensen (68), Daley Blind (63), David Lopez (60) and Ilkay Gündogan (60) appear in the top 10 for passes completed this season, which speaks to the style of play of both coaches.
This promises to be a great match, one which will serve to test whether Girona FC can keep pace with the top dogs at the top of LALIGA EA SPORTS or whether FC Barcelona can make their experience count. It should be a great Catalan derby, and it is taking place in the Champions League positions for the first time.