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Girona 0-1 Barcelona: Match Review



Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

With a Copa de Rey semifinal spot in the bag, Barcelona took on Girona in an important La Liga clash.

Xavi Hernandez was still without his key men in Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres, yet, opted to rotate given the tight schedule ahead further.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen started in goal with Jules Kounde and Marcos Alonso starting at right back and left back, respectively. Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia played in central defence as Andreas Christensen received a well-deserved rest.

Gavi, Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong started in midfield, while Raphinha, Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele played in the final third.

The initial minutes after kickoff saw Girona take the game to Barcelona’s box with intensity. The hosts were inspired and pushed Barcelona’s defence. It was only after the tenth minute that the visitors began enjoying some dominance.

The team’s first chance came in the 15th minute when Girona’s Gazzaniga took an extra touch and gifted the ball to Ansu Fati. Instead of taking a shot, the youngster passed it to Dembele, who could not capitalise.

The 26th minute saw a cloud of concern hover over the faces of the Barcelona bench and Xavi Hernandez.

Attempting a burst of pace on the left wing, Dembele had clutched his muscle and was in discomfort. It because clear that he could no longer continue, forcing Xavi to bring Pedri onto the field on his rest day.

Barcelona’s dominance on the possession front just improved as the half progressed. However, they could not create much and were visibly sluggish with their passing.

As the referee blew the halftime whistle, neither team deserved the lead at Motilivi. Michel’s side had done well to hold their fortress, while Barcelona had nothing to show for their possession.

Before the second half, Xavi brought on Jordi Alba for Alonso.

The Blaugranas began the second half with their foot on the gas. Raohinha had a chance in the opening minutes but misdirected his volley.

It was only at the hour mark that the deadlock broke. Barcelona managed to score through Pedri in what was a very well-worked sequence of play.

After a long and patient sequence of passes, Alba found himself free on the left flank to drive in a low cross. The ball travelled across the face of the goal, only for the young midfielder to tap it into the back of the net past a helpless Gazzaniga.

Four minutes later, Girona seemingly equalised through Martinez from a corner. However, the offside flag quickly went up.

The hosts then began their onslaught on Barcelona’s area as they pumped in waves of attacks relentlessly. Girona substitute Christian Stuani led the charge in the final third as they came close to equalising on a few occasions.

Alejandro Balde came on for Ansu Fati with 10 minutes to go. With Alba still on the field, he was deployed as a winger, given the lack of forwards.

A resilient defensive show from the Catalans helped them hold onto a third 1-0 win in three games. The performance was far from their best, but three wins in as many games without Lewandowski in La Liga is a big win for the club.

The Catalans temporarily extend their lead atop the league standings to six points thanks to the result on Saturday night. The pressure will now be on Real Madrid who play Real Sociedad late on Sunday.

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