15.15 BST, Sunday 29th October, Municipal de Montilivi Stadium (Girona, Spain)
Real Madrid will not make their way to Catalan club Girona in their logo-displaying team coach as extra security measures are put in place for their first trip to the Montilivi. The European champions are starting to find their feet again after slipping off the pace after two early season draws and a disappointing loss at home against Real Betis. A positive result on Sunday would help keep up the pressure on leaders Barcelona.
A first season in top flight football is being dealt with admirably by Blanquivermell who have already recorded two league wins and sit at 15th in La Liga. Partly owned by the City Football Group, the riverside city club are looking to establish themselves as another top division Catalan team.
Last Time Out
Deportivo La Coruna 1-2 Girona (La Liga)
An early penalty from Manchester City loanee Olarenwaju Kayode gave Girona a surprise advantage in their game against Deportivo. This initial lead was soon cancelled out by another spot kick from Lucas Perez before Kayode set up Cristian Portu to give Girona what could prove to be a vital win. Despite lacking sustained periods of possession, Girona created numerous chances and were ultimately more clinical than La Coruna.
Real Madrid 3-0 Eibar (La Liga)
Los Blancos comfortably dispatched a poor Eibar side and are beginning to look in full flow. 20-year-old starlet Marcus Asensio was in brilliant form as he scored one goal and his cross provided an unfortunate assist for Eibar defender Paulo Oliviera to knock it past his own keeper. Marcelo sealed the points late on with a well-taken chance.
Centre back Pedro Alcala is out with a malleolar injury. Stoke loanee Marc Muniesa will also miss out as will Eloi Amagat who is recovering from an ankle injury.
Real Madrid Lineup
Zinedine Zidane will still be without Gareth Bale, Mateo Kovacic and Daniel Carvajal who are all out until at least mid-November. Keylor Navas is also a doubt after suffering a groin injury.
Key Battle: Cristhian Stuani (Girona) vs Marcus Asensio (Real Madrid)
Uruguayan Cristhian Stuani has had a very good start to life in Catalonia with a return of 4 goals in his first 7 games. His aerial ability has provided Girona with a more than useful get-out clause when under pressure from sides higher up in the league. Stuani’s hold up play should prove to be a very important outlet and in his current clinical form could cause Madrid some problems
Marcus Asensio took his opportunity of making the side ahead of Karim Benzema at the weekend with a wonderful display against Eibar. Having burst onto the world stage with memorable strikes against Barcelona in the Supercopa, he will now hope to be given a real run of games to prove his worth. With Bale out until November at the very least, Asensio has the chance to really nail down his starting place in the next few weeks.
Girona standing up the big boys
After Sunday’s game, Girona will have already played each member of the current top 6 as well as Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao in only their first 10 games. Part of their success has come down to fronting up and playing positive football against the more-favoured sides. Scoring two goals against Atletico Madrid in their opener, they have netted 9 times this season which is considerably higher than comparable sides such as Alaves and Malaga with 3 and 1 goals for each respectively. It will be interesting to see whether they continue to take a bold approach when Real come knocking.
How hostile will the atmosphere be for Real?
Real are travelling to Girona a day in advance of the game in order to avoid getting involved in any potential crowd trouble. It is the first time that they have played in the Catalan region since the events of the independence referendum and the royal club, seen by some Catalans as emblematic of Madrid as a whole, may not receive the warmest of welcomes.
Prediction: Girona 1-3 Real Madrid
Girona have done very well to negotiate such a tough run of early fixtures and will surely put on another brave display in front of a passionate crowd. In spite of this, Real Madrid are in the mood and, with their eyes set firmly on Barcelona in top spot, will not make the mistake of dropping points on this occasion.
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