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Preview: Real Madrid vs Girona – stats, team news, line-ups

Europe’s attention switches to Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday as La Liga leaders Real Madrid and runners-up Girona go head-to-head in a potential title-deciding showdown.

Marcos Llorente’s stoppage-time equaliser held Carlo Ancelotti’s side to a gut-wrenching 1-1 draw against cross-city rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend, knocking them down from a six-game winning league run.

Despite dropping points in La Liga for the first time since early December, Los Merengues have maintained the stranglehold on the top spot, courtesy of Girona’s scoreless home stalemate with Real Sociedad.

However, only two points separate the two most genuine title candidates ahead of the kick-off, with Madrid boasting a psychological edge following a 3-0 statement win in the reverse fixture.

As the only La Liga team to have defeated Michel Sanchez’s side this season, the hosts look primed to tip the overall top-flight H2H balance in their favour (W3, D1, L3).

Visiting Girona can’t let the disappointing result against the most decorated Spanish club in September get into their heads if they’re to remain relevant in one of the most exciting title battles in Europe. 

Last weekend’s setback against Sociedad could make it difficult for Los Blanquivermells to avoid defeat at the Bernabeu for the third time on the trot (D1, L1).

Frustrated with the referee’s decision to disallow Yangel Herrera’s first-half opener, head coach Michel earned a red card that will sideline him for this encounter. 

Match Preview

Madrid’s reputation as the most formidable home side in La Liga is well deserved, considering they’ve not lost a league match at the Bernabeu since last April (W13, D3).

The aforementioned draw with Atletico last weekend marked only the second instance this season to see Los Merengues drop points on home turf (W9, D2).

Defensive solidity has played its part, with only Valencia’s impressive tally of six home goals conceded bettering Madrid’s seven. Interestingly, only rock-bottom Almeria netted more than once against them in the capital. 

Equally outstanding on the opposite end of the field, Ancelotti’s charges have hauled 26 goals at home, averaging a resounding 2.36 per game, a record bettered by only two clubs. 

Madrid’s scoring prowess is of particular interest to Girona as they’ve conceded an average of five goals per game across their two previous La Liga losses at this venue (W1, D1, L2).

But this is a different Girona side. Michel’s men are no longer pushovers, as in some previous top-flight campaigns, with victories against Atletico and Barcelona testifying to their newfound strength.

The fact they’re the only unbeaten away team in La Liga alongside Barcelona speaks volumes, especially given that they’ve emerged victorious from eight of their 11 league travels this term (D3).

After blowing hot and cold across their last three domestic road trips (W1, D1, L1), Girona’s sterling away record is under threat, not least because they scored one goal or fewer twice in that sequence.

Team News & Potential Line-ups

Madrid have received a double fitness boost ahead of this season-defining fixture as Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga are back to the fold. 

David Alaba, Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao are still in the treatment room, with Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez facing a race against time to make the cut. 

Vinicius Junior’s downturn in form and minor fitness problems could open space for Brahim Diaz, who has tallied five of his seven goals this season at the Bernabeu, up top.

Girona will be without David Lopez, Toni Villa and Joel Roca due to injuries, while Daley Blind and Herrera are unavailable after accumulating yellow cards.

Real Madrid potential starting line-up:

(4-3-2-1): Andriy Lunin; Lucas Vasquez, Daniel Carvajal, Aurelien Tchouameni, Ferland Mendy; Federico Valverde, Toni Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga; Jude Bellingham; Rodrygo, Brahim Diaz. 

Girona potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Paulo Gazzaniga; Yan Couto, Eric Garcia, Juanpe, Miguel Gutierrez; Aleix Garcia, Pablo Torre; Savio, Viktor Tsygankov, Ivan Martin; Artem Dovbyk. 

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