MX23RW : Monday, February 18 03:01:11
Sep 23, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Camp Nou
Attendance: 76,055
Messi (19'), Pique (63')
Lenglet (35')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Stuani (45', 51')

Preview: Barcelona vs. Girona - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of the La Liga encounter between Barcelona and Girona at Camp Nou.

Barcelona play host to close rivals Girona on Sunday evening looking to register their fifth successive victory of the new La Liga campaign.

Girona make the short trip to Camp Nou having also put together a winning sequence in Spain's top flight, with the White and Reds currently sitting in sixth spot in the table.


Ernesto Valverde watches on during the Champions League group game between Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven on September 18, 2018© Reuters

The exit of Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid has arguably improved Barcelona's chances of successfully retaining their league title, but Ernesto Valverde's side have not always impressed this season.

Going behind during the early stages of the away fixture at Real Sociedad last weekend may have been partly due to it being the club's first outing after the international break, but although Barca came back to edge out their hosts, it would have only offered encouragement to Girona ahead of this weekend.

That said, Barcelona are proving to be a different animal at Camp Nou, with 15 goals already coming from their first three games at their home ground this season.

Almost half of those have been scored by Lionel Messi, and with seven goals and two assists coming from five appearances, there are few reasons why the Argentine cannot enjoy a record-breaking campaign.

Luis Suarez has also had a hand in five goals in La Liga, but it is the contribution of Ousmane Dembele which will really satisfy Valverde at a make-or-break period for the France international.

The 21-year-old has established himself as a key part of the team, with his goals away at Real Valladolid and Sociedad proving crucial during the early weeks of the season.

Valverde will hope that can continue with matches against Tottenham Hotspur and Valencia on the horizon, but the Barca boss can have few complaints with how his team have fared ahead of the visit of Sunday's opponents.

Recent form: WWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW


Eusebio Sacristan in charge of Real Sociedad on January 14, 2018© Reuters

Girona over-achieved in their first-ever season in La Liga, and ahead of the new campaign there would have been fears that one of the minnows of the division would struggle to maintain the high standards set over the past 12 months.

However, the arrival of Eusebio Sacristan has kept things fresh at Estadi Montilivi, and back-to-back victories have indicated that the club are capable of another mid-table finish in Spain's top flight.

Travelling to Villarreal and coming away with a 1-0 win - less than a week after losing heavily to Real Madrid - was impressive in itself, but to back that up with a 3-2 triumph over in-form Celta Vigo made even more of a mark.

Vigo almost fought back to claim a point, but seeing out the match against a previously-unbeaten side who still sit in third spot in the division bodes well heading into the encounter at Camp Nou.

Girona will not get ahead of themselves when remaining in La Liga will always be a priority, but more high-profile scalps are possible providing that Cristhian Stuani can maintain his form in front of goal.

The Uruguay international has netted three times in his last two appearances, and the former Middlesbrough man will relish the chance of trying to extend that streak at the home of the champions.

The return of Manchester City loanee Douglas Luiz is also a major plus for Girona, and the 20-year-old's composure on the ball in the middle of the park will be required on Sunday evening.

Girona are huge underdogs to get anything from their trip to Barcelona but having troubled Real Madrid for 45 minutes and having defeated both Villarreal and Celta Vigo, they will never be better prepared to try to claim the biggest win in their history.

Recent form: DLWW

Team News

Patrick Roberts in action for Manchester City in pre-season on July 20, 2018© Reuters

Valverde has only made two changes to his starting lineup in four La Liga fixtures, and the Barcelona boss is unlikely to make major alterations this weekend.

Nelson Semedo could potentially return at right-back in place of Sergi Roberto, but Arturo Vidal may have to wait for his first league start.

Summer signing Clement Lenglet is an option if Valverde opts to hand a rest to Jordi Alba, who has played every minute of Barca's opening five matches of the season.

Sacristan could decide to name the same XI that featured last weekend, leaving Manchester City loanee Patrick Roberts to wait for his first start for his new club.

Aleix Garcia finds himself in the same situation, with Borja Garcia and Portu likely to keep their places in the team.

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Coutinho; Messi, Suarez, Dembele

Girona possible starting lineup:
Bounou; Alcala, Espinosa, Juanpe; Porro, Granell, Luiz, Aday; Portu, Garcia, Stuani

Head To Head

The two teams are taking part in just their third-ever competitive meeting this weekend, due to Girona having only gained promotion to the top flight last year.

This weekend's match is taking place a year to the day since Barcelona ran out 3-0 winners on the road, although Girona contributed to their own downfall with two own goals.

Girona took a surprise early lead in the reverse fixture at Camp Nou, only for Messi and Suarez to each net twice in a 6-1 success for the home team.

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We say: Barcelona 4-0 Girona

Girona are on a high having moved themselves into contention for the top four, but Barcelona have been superb in front of their own fans this season and we expect that to continue at the weekend.

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Who will win Sunday's La Liga clash between Barcelona and Girona?

Philippe Coutinho in action for Barcelona on May 20, 2018
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