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Barcelona 0-0 Girona: Match Review

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Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Barcelona took on Girona on Matchday 28 of La Liga at Spotify Camp Nou and entered the game as undisputed favourites. However, they were coming off a crushing defeat to Real Madrid themselves at the same venue.

A win on the night would take them 15 points clear of Real Madrid in La Liga, and the focus was unsurprisingly on extending their dominance atop the table.

The Zamora Trophy favourite Marc-Andre ter Stegen started in goal with a defence of Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Eric Garcia and Alejandro Balde ahead of him.

Xavi deployed only three midfielders on the night, in Gavi, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto with the forward line consisting of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Ansu Fati.

The hosts got the game underway but it was Girona who opened up the opponent’s defence and created the first big chance of the night. In just the second minute, Viktor Tsygankov was free on goal but could not direct his volley into the goal.

A short period of dominance for Barcelona then began. Over the next five minutes, Lewandowski and Fati saw a plethora of chances and did not miss by much. The Polish international’s strike, in particular, did not go far off.

The Catalans’ spell culminated in one of the biggest moments of the first half when Girona almost scored an own goal. A mix-up between Santiago Bueno and Paulo Gazzaniga saw the ball rolling towards the back of the net, only for the latter to chase it back in time and skew it wide.

The visitors then took control of the game for a while, circulating the ball and maintaining possession well. The game entered quiescence for a quarter of an hour and Xavi’s men only returned with full focus close to the half-hour mark.

In the 36th minute, the Catalans had a clear chance when Raphinha’s run behind the defence was picked out from midfield. The Brazilian could only manage to secure a corner from which Ronald Araujo’s touch appeared to send the ball over the line. However, as it turned out, the whole of the ball did not cross the line.

In the penultimate minute of the half, Ansu Fati had a golden chance to bury a goal from Raphinha’s cutback but his shot was well wide off the target.

It was Xavi’s men who went into the break having had the better half but Girona did not have much to be concerned about either.

Franck Kessie came on for Sergi Roberto at the restart.

The second half started in a similar fashion with both teams having their chances in the opening ten minutes. Lewandowski, Fati and Eric Garcia were the Blaugrana players to come close to scoring, but it was again Girona that had the best chance.

A defence-splitting pass saw Taty Castellanos through on goal with only Ter Stegen to beat. He had his teammate Tsygankov with him to square the ball to and wrong-foot the goalkeeper but the striker chose to shoot and miss.

Ferran Torres came on for Ansu Fati with 22 minutes left to play. Soon after, Jordi Alba came on for Raphinha.

The introduction of the left-back saw him move to the left wing and Torres deployed on the right side. Alba made an instant impact, involved in vertical passing sequences and opening up spaces in the final third.

Lewandowski’s big chance in the 78th minute went to nothing after the forward stuttered to shoot. Barcelona looked unable to crack open the Girona defence and a sense of panic began to set in.

As the final whistle neared, Barcelona’s attacks showed desperation in every sense. Gavi and Lewandowski came painfully close to stealing the game in the final minute but it was not meant to be.

The result sees Barcelona extend their lead in La Liga by a further point after Real Madrid’s slip-up on Saturday. The Spanish League is not yet over but is edging near to crowning a champion.

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