Girona vs Real Madrid Match Preview: Key Battles, Team News & Predictions

​Real Madrid travel to La Liga new boys Girona on Sunday knowing only a victory will do. Los Blancos lie third in the table at before the weekend’s action, and are five points behind leaders Barcelona and one behind surprise package Valencia.

Zinedine Zidane’s side have recovered fairly well after a stuttering start that saw them draw two and lose one at the Bernabeu, but it can be argued that los Blancos still haven’t hit top gear yet, despite breezing past Eibar 3-0 last weekend.

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The giants have had their injury problems so far this season, but Zidane can welcome back the majority of his crocks for the game on Sunday, and will definitely be confident of a victory, with Madrid having won every game on their travels this season.

At the other end of the table Pablo Machín’s Girona side made a bright start to life in the big time, but faltered over the past few weeks – they did win last time out though against Deportivo away from home, leaving them 15th on nine points.

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They will be hoping to make a mess of everyone’s weekend accumulators by causing a huge upset and stealing points off the visitors, and putting a large dint in Real’s title retention hopes.

It is the first time the two teams have ever faced each other before, so there is no head-to-head history to read into, but make no bones about it – Madrid are overwhelming favourites for this one.


Key Battles

Portu vs Casemiro

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Arguably Girona’s best player this season has been Cristian Portugués Manzanera – more commonly known as Portu. The attacking midfield we seek to play off of Christhian Stuani and cause danger between the lines when in possession of the ball. Madrid’s Casemiro is a master of his trade though, and will likely make Portu’s evening a tricky one in terms of creativity.

Marcelo vs Pablo Maffeo

The young Spaniard on loan from Manchester City might have his work cut out against the best left-back in the world Marcelo, but does have plenty of pace as a means of trying to combat the Brazilian’s attacking threat.


Team News

Girona

Machín has a full roster to choose from for the game, subject to his team coming through their Copa del Rey clash with Levante unscathed.

Real Madrid

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The visitors will be without Gareth Bale who has been sidelined since late September with a troublesome calf problem. Mateo Kovacic is still out with a torn adductor, and Dani Carvajal remains out as he recovers from ill-health. Zidane should be set to welcome back Keylor Navas though after a groin strain, and Marcelo, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos all appear to be fully recovered from their recent injuries.


Predicted Line Ups

Girona (3-4-3): Bounou/Ramalho, Bernardo, Juanpe/Maffeo, Pons, Aleix Garcia, Aday/Portu, Kayode, Borja Garcia.

Real Madrid (4-3-1-2): Navas/Fernandez, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo/Modric, Casemiro, Kroos/Isco/Ronaldo, Benzema.


Prediction

Although the two teams have never faced before and therefore no history to go off, it is difficult to look past a Real Madrid win at Montilivi. 

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Los Blancos have been very strong on their travels despite various injuries and should have too much for Girona on Sunday as all their main superstars return following a midweek rest. Ronaldo will certainly be hoping to full kick-start his season given the way Messi has started at Barcelona.

Predicted Score: Girona 0-4 Real Madrid.

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Picking the Best Potential Real Madrid Lineup to Face Girona on Sunday

​Real Madrid must travel to Girona on Sunday, and the decision has already been taken not to get there using their team bus, as a result of the ongoing tensions in Catalonia.

Once there, Los Blancos will need to put in a convincing performance and take all three points if they are to keep pace with Barcelona and Valencia at the top.

Here’s an XI Zinedine Zidane could field…

Goalkeeper

  • Navas

    Navas1

​Keylor Navas is likely to return between the sticks after a brief spell on the sidelines with injury.

Defence

  • Nacho

    Nacho6

  • S. Ramos

    S. Ramos4

  • Varane

    Varane5

  • Marcelo

    Marcelo12

​Nacho Fernandez could keep his place as a make-shift right-back, despite the emergence of 17-year-old Achraf Hakimi who only made his debut a few weeks ago.

Sergio Ramos is an ever-present and has struck up a solid partnership with Raphael Varane at centre-half. Flying full-back Marcelo seems to be back to full fitness now following a hamstring tear and will likely take over from deputy Theo Hernandez.

Midfield

  • Modric

    Modric10

  • Casemiro

    Casemiro14

  • Kroos

    Kroos8

  • Isco

    Isco22

​Real Madrid’s midfield trio of Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos are the best in the world, and Zidane will jump at the chance to get them all back playing together.

Spaniard Isco could get the nod over Marco Asensio, who was involved midweek in the Copa del Rey – the silky star would likely take up a position in behind the front two, a position in which he has become so dangerous.

Forwards

  • Benzema

    Benzema9

  • Ronaldo

    Ronaldo7

​Zidane thinks Karim Benzema is ‘the best’, so he surely has to play, right? The Frenchman was left on the bench against Eibar, but could his defiant response to Gary Lineker’s ‘overrated’ comments force his hand a little?

Cristiano Ronaldo will partner Benzema up top, and look to reap the rewards of the 29-year-old’s industrious and creative work.

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Chelsea Star Marcos Alonso Reveals He Has ‘No Regrets’ Over Leaving Real Madrid

​Marcos Alonso has revealed he is delighted that he made the risky move to leave his boyhood club Real Madrid back in 2010.

Since leaving the Bernabeu, Alonso has gone on to play for Bolton, Fiorentina, Sunderland and now Chelsea, in an exciting career which has brought him a great deal of success – peaking when he picked up the Premier League trophy at the end of the 2016/17 campaign. 

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Making the decision to leave Real Madrid was a huge step as the Spaniard had been there since he was 8-years-old however, his recent success has proven that it was the right step to take.

Speaking to Spanish publication ​Marca, Alonso admitted: “I lacked the patience to play there. In my final season there, I got my debut but I wanted to play every week. When I had an offer from the Premier League, I had no hesitation. I don’t regret it.

When you are a kid, you aren’t mature and you want to get up and play every week. I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m very happy with my career and I want to improve even more.

Real Madrid was my home for a long time and I’ve not forgotten it. I grew up there, I met a lot of people and I made my debut. There’s part of me that will always be there, I can’t deny it. To play for the first team was a dream.”

While Alonso has enjoyed a run of great form for Chelsea, the Spaniard is yet to breakthrough to the Spain national team.

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When asked whether players who leave for clubs abroad are valued less he answered: “They’re not valued less, but it’s true that they are not as well known as those who are in Spain.”

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Porto Goalkeeper Iker Casillas Trolls Media After Untrue Reports Had Him Dropped by Club

Former Spain and Real Madrid legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas has hit back at Portuguese media, after claims were made that he is facing an exit from current club Porto. 

Last week, newspaper O Jogo had published a report claiming that Casillas was on the verge of leaving Porto due to his improper behaviour and his tendency to use his phone too much. 

The news followed manager Sergio Conceiçao to leave him on the bench during the team’s League Cup match against Leixões.

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At the time, O Jogo reported: “Mobile phones are not prohibited in the team camp. However, there are particular times allocated for their use. Iker’s ‘constant’ use of his own mobile device is one of the reasons given for him losing his place.

“The manager, Sergio Conceiçao, likes the team to be tight and does not appreciate that internal situations are spread across social networks. It is known that Casillas has made use of his mobile phone, even when the team was in camp, to the point that he has been warned by the goalkeeping coach.”

And it was Conceiçao who later justified his choice to rule him out for the game by telling ESPN: “I put out the 11 players I thought were best suited for tonight’s game. I wouldn’t change the decision if I had a chance to make it again. I’m paid to make decisions and tonight I put out, what I felt, was my strongest side.

Speaking of Porto’s upcoming Champions League match against Leipzig, he said: “We lost against a very strong team and the home game against them is going to be vital in terms of our hopes of advancing in the competition. [Leipzig] are a very powerful team, they play with a lot of intensity and are aggressive in terms of looking to win back possession.”

But rumours were soon shut down by Casillas himself, who read El Mundo Deportivo’s piece about it and tweeted: “4,76,98,6,35,74,65…Line! We checked… the line is not correct!”.

While it’s a nice comeback, the point reamins: where did the keeper send that tweet from? If it was from his phone, then the doubters may have a point. 

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VIDEO: Gamers Show What Happens When You Try to Offer Cristiano Ronaldo €1 Contract in FIFA18

​Over the past couple of decades, the influence of money in football has increased significantly.

Earlier this year, Neymar’s €222m move from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain shattered the world transfer record. And with player wages getting increasingly ludicrous, the prominence of money in football cannot be understated.

Players such as Carlos Tevez, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Oscar are being paid stupid money by clubs in the Chinese Super League, each earning over £400,000 per week.

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Meanwhile, the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo pocket upwards of £20m per year, placing them among some of the world’s highest paid athletes.

There’s no question that if any club were to try secure the services of either Messi or Ronaldo, they would have to offer them top dollar in contract negotiations if they were to have any hope of enticing them to sign on the dotted line.

But, what would happen if a club offered them perhaps the most minimal contract possible? YouTube gamer, DTT decided to find out on his FIFA18 career mode, and the results were amusing to say the least.

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Playing as PSG, he wanted to try signing Cristiano Ronaldo, and he even came to an agree with Real Madrid regarding a transfer fee. However, when it came to contract negotiations, the other party were far from satisfied.

He decided to see what would happen if he offered Ronaldo €1 per week with no signing on bonus, a far cry from the €560,000 per week demanded by the Portugal ace’s agent.

Upon receiving the offer Ronaldo’s mood visibly changes, with his agent doing all the talking for him, saying: “That’s not going to work. We came here hoping to finalise this transfer, but your revised offer is disappointing and Ronaldo no longer has any interest in joining your club. Maybe our paths will cross again. Bye for now.”

Ronaldo

They then stand and leave the room, which is likely a far more measured reflection of how the negotiations would go in real life.

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Real Madrid: Gareth Bale vor Rückkehr ins Teamtraining – Carvajal radelt

​Am morgigen Donnerstag gastiert Real Madrid beim FC Fuenlabrada im Rahmen der Copa Del Rey, um das Hinspiel der Runde der letzten 32 Team zu bestreiten. Nicht besonders überraschend gab es jedoch auf der zu dieser Partie anberaumten Pressekonferenz fast überhaupt keine Fragen diesbezüglich. Cheftrainer Zinedine Zidane bekam viel mehr unter anderem die Gelegenheit, um über den Gesundheitszustand von Dani Carvajal und Gareth Bale zu sprechen.

Beide Akteure sind seit etwa einem Monat verletzt und werden wohl noch einige Zeit ausfallen. Zumindest gibt es aber Fortschritte in ihrer Reha, wie Zidane laut Real Total offenbarte. “Bei Dani geht es voran. Alles ist positiv“, sagte der Franzose über den Zustand seines absoluten Leistungsträgers auf der rechten Abwehrseite, der an den Folgen einer schlimmen Viruserkrankung laboriert. “Er ist heute auf das Fahrrad gestiegen und braucht noch ein bisschen Zeit.”

Eine schnelle Rückkehr ist aber weiterhin nicht absehbar: “Ich bin zufrieden, weil er wieder gesund ist, aber er benötigt noch ein bisschen Zeit zur Rehabilitierung.” Zidane und sein Team werden “seine Fortschritte abwarten.”

Bei Gareth Bale sind Real-Fans zumeist weniger positiv gestimmt. Der 28-jährige Waliser war während seiner Zeit in Madrid sehr oft verletzt und konnte in den Augen vieler Beobachter noch nicht seine Rekord-Ablöse von über 100 Millionen Euro rechtfertigen. Obwohl Zidane bei dem an einer Wadenverletzung leidenden Welt-Star wie bei Carvajal noch nichts zum Zeitpunkt der Rückkehr sagen kann, scheint es bei ihm schon signifikate Fortschritte zu geben, wie Zidane verrät: “Bale ist schon auf dem Feld, ist kurz davor, mit dem Team zu trainieren.” Ein Comeback sollte man also in den nächsten Spielen erwarten.

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Varane verrät: So tickt Zidane wirklich

​Real-Star und Verteidiger Raphaël Varane ist auf dem Cover der neuen Ausgabe von GQ. Die spanische Zeitung AS veröffentlichte nun die Aussagen des Franzosen, die dieser zu verschiedensten Themen traf. So ging es um die eigene Form und die Entwicklung des 24-Jährigen, die Weltmeisterschaft 2018, die Stimmung im Real-Kader und auch um dessen Landsmann, Trainer Zinédine Zidane.


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Ruhe und Gelassenheit strahlt der Trainer der ‘Königlichen’ laut Varane aus. Doch Zidane kann auch anders, wie Varane im Interview bekanntgab.

Angesprochen auf den Erfolgstrainer der ‘Blancos’ sagte der französische Nationalspieler: “Wenn er spricht, hört jeder zu, alle Spieler sind gewillt, von ihm zu lernen, denn wenn er als Spieler ein Gewinner war und dies nun auch als Trainer ist, muss das einen Grund haben. Er ermutigte mich dazu, mehr Risiken einzugehen. Er maximiert die Qualitäten, die ich habe. Ob er sich jemals verliert und uns anschreit? Ja, manchmal, aber nur, wenn es notwendig ist. Aber generell vermittelt er durch seinen Charakter und seine Art Ruhe und Gelassenheit mit seiner unaufdringlichen Kraft.”

Er selbst habe sich Real Madrid 2011 angeschlossen, um sich zunächst zu verbessern, ohne dabei genaue Ziele gesetzt zu haben. “Ich genieße es, mich selbst zum Besten zu treiben, wenn die Dinge schwierig werden, wenn man seine Komfortzone verlassen muss”, so der 39-fache Nationalspieler. Besonders am Anfang sei es für Varane schwer gewesen, denn er habe kein Wort Spanisch und nur ein bisschen Englisch gesprochen.

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Einst habe es einen Zeitpunkt in seiner Karriere gegeben, an dem der Franzose realisierte, dass er über alles zu viel nachdachte. Inzwischen habe er die Balance zwischen Denken und dem Fokus auf die richtige Positionierung auf dem Platz gefunden. Der Stammspieler der Madrilenen unterstrich die gute Atmosphäre im Team, den gesunden Wettkampf, aber auch die Hilfsbereitschaft und das Wissen, nur als hilfsbereites Team gewinnen zu können. Die Beziehungen zwischen den Spielern des amtierenden Champions-League-Siegers sei perfekt. Dies ist wohl auch ein Grund, warum der französische Trainer seine Männer bisher nicht allzu oft anschreien musste.

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Real Madrid Boss Zidane Confirms Dani Carvajal’s Heart Infection Recovery & Gives Gareth Bale Update

​Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has confirmed that Dani Carvajal has recovered from his heart infection, but stated it is still too soon to state when the 25-year-old will return to first-team action. 

The Spain international has not featured since the back end of September, missing four games so far due to a cardiovascular virus, including Los Blancos’ 1-1 Champions League draw with Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month. 

But now it seems the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium youth academy graduate is preparing for his comeback. Zidane, however, insists he is unable to establish the exact date he will be able to call upon his right-back once again. 

“Dani is okay and the tests are positive”, the French manager, who was recently named Coach of the Year by FIFA, told Spanish news outlet ​Marca.

“He has been cycling today, he is healthy but there is a recovery process and we will have to see how that goes.”

It seems therefore that the Champions League trip to Wembley Stadium early next month to face Tottenham may come too soon for Carvajal, but one man who could made an appearance is former Spurs star Gareth Bale. 

The Wales international picked up a calf injury during Los Blancos’ 3-1 European win over Borussia Dortmund in September, and similarly to his Spanish teammate, has missed out on the La Liga giants’ last four games. 

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League

However, the 28-year-old is setting his sights on a return during Zidane’s side’s trip to north London in November, even though his manager is not keen to put a date on his explosive attacker’s comeback. 

“Gareth has been out on the pitch, he is on the verge of training with the team but still we cannot give a date for that”, the 45-year-old added. 

Real have had an indifferent start to the campaign, already losing one and drawing two of their opening nine, certainly winnable, games. 

The results have left them third in La Liga, five points behind league leaders Barcelona, however the Spanish capital side will be confident they can make up that gap when they are able to boast a fully-fit squad. 

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Man City Defender Danilo Admits He Is ‘Missing Madrid’ After Summer Move to the Premier League

​Manchester City defender Danilo has admitted that he is “missing Madrid” after leaving the European champions for the Premier League during the summer.

The Brazilian full-back has so far struggled to establish himself as a regular under Pep Guardiola, utilised predominantly as a backup option as he was in the Spanish capital.

But he has claimed that the success he experienced at Real Madrid made his spell at the club an “incredible” one.

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“The truth is that I am missing Madrid,” Danilo told ​Cadena SER. “I spent two incredible years winning important things and people always treated me very well. But you have to turn the page.”

Danilo was asked to compare two of the game’s most esteemed coaches, Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane and current manager Guardiola.

“They are two great coaches,” he said. “I had a very good relationship with Zidane for the two years and now I am very good with Guardiola.”

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The 26-year-old was speaking after the ceremony for FIFA’s ‘The Best’ Awards, in which a number of Real Madrid players were recognised for last season’s achievements. “I’m very happy because Madrid won a lot,” Danilo added. 

Turning his attention to his teammates at City, Danilo was full of praise for compatriot Gabriel Jesus, who has made an excellent start to the season.

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“He is Brazilian but I did not know him,” he said. “He surprised me because of his quality and maturity despite being 20-years-old.”

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