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La Liga | Gameweek 16
Dec 10, 2023 at 8pm UK
Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys
Girona logo
2 - 4
Lewandowski (19'), Gundogan (90+2')
Araujo (90+8')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Dovbyk (12'), Gutierrez (40'), Fernandez (80'), Stuani (90+5')
Blind (64'), Stuani (90+6')

Barcelona boss Xavi says Girona can "fight for the title" this season

Barcelona boss Xavi says Girona can
© Reuters
Barcelona head coach Xavi insists that La Liga surprise package Girona are capable of winning the title this season.

Barcelona head coach Xavi has said that Girona are capable of winning La Liga this season.

Michel's side have been in spectacular form this term, picking up 38 points from their opening 15 matches of the La Liga season, which has left them level on points with league leaders Real Madrid at the top of the table.

Girona are four clear of third-placed Barcelona, meanwhile, ahead of the meeting between the Catalan rivals at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on Sunday night.

Xavi has said that he is not surprised to see the Red and Whites "co-leading with Real Madrid", and the Barcelona head coach is expecting Girona to challenge for the title this season.

"Tomorrow is a big match. For some, it might be a surprise that Girona is co-leading with Real Madrid, but for us, it's not," Xavi told reporters during his press conference.

Barcelona coach Xavi reacts on November 4, 2023© Reuters

"Michel is a great coach, with a system very similar to ours. Excellent, just congratulate them. They are playing with spectacular enthusiasm, but we won't change too much. We'll try to maintain continuity in our game.

"Tomorrow we must try to show the same performance we had against Atletico and Porto. We've planned the match in different scenarios because they can play in various ways and have more individual strengths. I don't know which Girona we'll face, but we'll go for the match.

"Yes, indeed, they can fight for the title, and in fact, they're four points ahead of us. I like that they aren't afraid, the way they attack. They're courageous, and that's what has put them in that position.

"We'll see how they come out. We always play the same way, wanting to press high, but Girona varies. We'll see how they populate the midfield, whether they do it with a full-back to create superiority... We always aim to dominate, possess the ball, and attack.

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen on May 14, 2023© Reuters

"We expect a brave Girona, a team that, like us, enjoys having possession and maintains a lot of ball control. It's going to be a battle for possession and to dominate the game. Their comebacks? They are a team that never gives up, they know their game plan and they try until the end. As I said, they will be a tough opponent."

Barcelona head coach Xavi also opened up on the injuries in his squad, with Gavi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Inigo Martinez all recently picking up issues.

"It's part of the competition. Every year we talk about the schedule, demands... it's a shame, but if you look at other teams, there are always two, three, or four injured players," he said.

"In the big teams, there could be five, six... It's due to the schedule, the demands, the number of games."

Barcelona will enter Sunday's clash off the back of successive wins over Porto and Atletico Madrid in the Champions League and La Liga respectively.

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