Reigning champions Real Madrid host Girona FC at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday in match day 29 of the La Liga.
Real Madrid are currently third in the La Liga standings, with 57 points to their name. They are only a point ahead of fourth placed Valencia CF and are coming off a narrow 1-2 victory league over SD Eibar a week ago at the Ipurua Muncipal Stadium.
Girona are currently playing out their first ever season in the Spanish first division and at a comfortable seventh in the standings. They are in contention to qualify for the group stages of next season’s UEFA Europa League and they are coming off a 2-0 victory against Deportivo de la Coruna at home.
In their first meeting this season at the Estadi Montilivi, Girona came away with a shock 2-1 victory. Isco opened the scoring in the 12th minute, but two second half goals in the space of 4 minutes proved to be enough for the Blanquivermell.
Tactics & Team News
Zinedine Zidane called up the entire squad for their most training session, meaning that there are injuries within the squad and he has a full strength squad to pick his starting XI from. The Frenchman is expected to switch things up for this tie and deploy a 4-3-3 formation instead of the 4-4-2.
Starting from the back, Keylor Navas is expected to start in goal, with Marcelo, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal all retaining their places in defence. The midfield three is once again expected to consist of Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos.
Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio, both of whom were left out the starting XI in last week’s match against Eibar are expected to start on either side of Cristiano Ronaldo, who will almost certainly lead the line for Zinedine Zidane’s men.
Probable Starting XI(4-3-3): Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric; Lucaz Vazquez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Marco Asensio
Girona are expected to be without Carles Planas for this tie and he is likely to be the only absentee. Pablo Machin to expected to field the exact same starting XI that took to the pitch in their 2-0 victory against Deportivo de la Coruna last week.
Bono is expected is retain his place in goal, with Jonas Ramalho, Juanpe, and Bernardo Espinosa making back the back three, while Johan Mojica and Pablo Maffeo are expected to start at left and right wing-back respectively.
Alex Granell and Pere Pons are likely to start in midfield, with Borja Garcia and Portu starting further ahead in attacking midfield positions, with former Middlesbrough striker Cristhian Stuani leading the line for the Gironistes.
Probable Starting XI(3-4-2-1): Bono; Bernardo Espinosa, Juanpe, Jonas Ramalho; Pablo Maffeo, Pere Pons, Alex Granell, Johan Mojica; Portu, Cristhian Stuani, Borja Garcia
- This is the second time that Real Madrid and Girona FC will face each other.
- Real Madrid have lost 5 La Liga matches this season, while Girona have lost 9.
- Girona FC have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 8 La Liga matches.
- Real Madrid have lost only 4 of their last 38 La Liga matches at home.
- Girona FC have lost 5 of their 14 away matches in the La Liga this season.
Player To Watch
After a difficult first half of the season, the Portuguese international has found his form and business has resumed as usual at the Bernabeu. His match winning double against SD Eibar last week took his tally for the season to 33 goals in 34 matches. In fact, the last time he didn’t score in a La Liga match was in a 2-2 draw against Levante on the 2nd of February.
Real Madrid 2-1 Girona FC
This Real Madrid are a very different side in form and confidence when compared to the side that were humbled by Girona in the reverse fixture. Zidane’s men will undoubtedly be looking to avenge that defeat and they will certainly not underestimate the Catalan side on this occasion.
However, Pablo Machin’s men aren’t going to make easy on their hosts. They are currently enjoying a good run of form, having lost only 2 of their last 10 league games. But Real Madrid’s sheer quality and the fact that they need to stay ahead of Valencia in the standings will certainly provide enough motivation for Zidane’s men to be at their very best on the night.