Barcelona 2-4 Girona: Match Review

Barcelona 2-4 Girona: Match Review

Barcelona’s clash against Girona, the ever-loved Catalan derby, kicked off late on Sunday night at Estadi Olimpic de Lluis Companys.

Girona were fighting for the sole leader spot on the night after Real Madrid let points slip. Barcelona, meanwhile, were looking to cut the deficit with Los Blancos to just two points with a win.

Xavi Hernandez understandably kept the core of his team intact from the last two games, especially considering the significance of the derby on Sunday night.

Inaki Pena started in goal with Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen in central defence. Jules Kounde was deputed as the right-back while Joao Cancelo stayed put at left-back.

The midfield on the night boasted of Pedri Gonzalez, Frenkie de Jong and Ilkay Gundogan while the forward line consisted of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Joao Felix.

As advertised, the high-voltage encounter began with the two teams inflicting equal blows at either end of the field. Barcelona and Girona enjoyed a wild opening ten minutes with chances galore, although neither side managed to capitalise on the same.

A handball claim, a Robert Lewandowski chance from point blanc range and a great save by Gazzaniga characterised Barcelona’s first chance that came as early as the third minute.

Meanwhile, Girona’s vicious counter terminated in Tsygankov’s shot falling at Inaki Pena’s hands.

Despite Xavi’s men having the marginally better opening spell, however, it was the visiting side that ran away to the early lead. A simple counterattack found Yan Couto placed well to play the ball to Tsygankov.

Unacceptable display from Barcelona. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

The forward played the ball across the goal to Artem Dobvyk for a simple tap-in.

Xavi’s men rushed forward in numbers hoping for an immediate equaliser after going down at home, with Joao Felix even coming close in the 218th minute.

Eventually, Robert Lewandowski got the team’s equaliser a minute later with a towering header off Raphinha’s corner to settle the score.

The clash of giants, thus, once again returned to its initial chaotic setup. Barcelona and Girona delivered blow-for-blow in the period that followed, with Barcelona arguably having the better chance.

Yet, Miguel Gutierrez, Tsygankov and Co gave the Blaugrana defence a hard time.

Joao Cancelo came close for Xavi’s side at the half-hour mark with a trademark solo effort that came to nothing. Ten minutes later, Girona once again took the lead, this time with a superb golazo.

Picking up the ball deep, the former Real Madrid academy graduate made his way past Barcelona’s Kounde and created space to shoot. Taking the shot from distance, he put enough power into it to give Pena no chance at the near post.

Barcelona once again mounted a response, but there was not enough time in the half to taste its result. The scoresheet read 2-1 to Michel’s side heading into the break, but it was clear that the game was neck-to-neck throughout.

Barcelona began the game on top at the restart and largely dominated the ten minutes that followed. Frenkie de Jong, Raphinha and Gundogan attempted from distance but could not beat Gazzaniga.

Alejandro Balde, Lamine Yamal and Ferran Torres came on for Andreas Christensen, Joao Felix and Raphinha in the 65th minute. Gundogan came painfully close to equalising two minutes later but found his shot just wide.

Barcelona continued to create clear-cut chances that they failed to deposit into the goal. The teamwork, cohesion, buildup and movements were wonderful but did not provide the required end result.

Pedri came off for Fermin Lopez in the 79th minute.

Completely against the run of play, Valery found the back of the net for Girona to extend the lead to 3-1. Kounde’s misjudgement of the ball led to the chance, but there was no way the Girona star was missing from the 1v1.

Atrocious defending all over the park. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Fermin attempted an outrageous overhead kick in the 88th minute but to no avail. Eventually, Gundogan did pull one back for the hosts in the 92nd minute with a smart touch in front of goal.

Yet, the development came a tad bit too late and Barcelona’s night went from bad to worse as they conceded the fourth after yet more dreadful defending allowed Christhian Stuani to head in to add insult to injury.

The disappointing result takes Girona to clear first place on the table and a staggering seven points clear of Barcelona.

The league season is indeed long, but it will be a difficult road from here on if Xavi’s men are to defend their crown. The Azulgranas will next be in action midweek in the Champions League.

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