Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Pre-Season Friendlies clash between Barcelona and Girona, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.
Barcelona will continue their preparations for the 2021-22 campaign with a pre-season clash against Segunda Division outfit Girona on Saturday night.
Ronald Koeman‘s side recorded a 4-0 win over Gimnastic in their first friendly of the summer on Wednesday, and the Catalan giants are building towards their La Liga opener against Real Sociedad on August 15.
Barcelona’s off-the-field issues have dominated a lot of the headlines this summer, and the club have not yet been able to sign Lionel Messi to a new deal, which is far from ideal this close to the start of the season.
Koeman’s team won last season’s Copa del Rey, but they were eliminated in the last-16 stage of the Champions League and finished third in La Liga, seven points behind the champions Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona started their preparations for next term with a 4-0 victory over Gimnastic on Wednesday, with 12 players making their debuts for the Catalan giants.
Alejandro Balde, Yusuf Demir, Jordi Escobar, Peque Polo, Arnau Comas, Ramos Mingo, Gavi, Matheus Pereira, Igor Gomes, Rey Manaj, Moussa N’diaye and Nils Mortimer all appeared for the first team against Gimnastic, and Manaj scored a hat-trick in a brilliant performance.
Barcelona are due to face Girona, Stuttgart and Red Bull Salzburg in their next three friendslies before opening their 2021-22 La Liga season against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou, and it will be fascinating to see which XI lines up on the first weekend of the new campaign.
Girona, meanwhile, have been present in the Segunda Division – the second tier of Spanish football – since being relegated from La Liga at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
The White and Reds have finished fifth in the last two seasons and lost 3-2 to Rayo Vallecano in last year’s promotion playoff final, meaning that they will again be present in the Segunda Division in 2021-22.
Girona are due to open their season at home to Amorebieta on August 14, while they will also take on Las Palmas and Ponferradina before opening September with a clash against Sporting Gijon.
Michele‘s side have seen the likes of Jonas Ramalho, Kevin Soni and Antonio Luna move on this summer, while a number of players have returned following loan spells, and the club are expected to be busy in terms of incomings before the start of the new season, which is now just around the corner.
Barcelona pre-season form:
Antoine Griezmann, Clement Lenglet, Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay all trained with Barcelona on Thursday, and there is a chance that they could be included in the clash with Girona.
Those involved in Wednesday’s contest were given Thursday off, but the full team should be back on the training field on Friday, with a number of youngsters set to be given more opportunities.
There will be experience in the shape of Sergino Dest, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Sergi Robertowhile Miralem Pjanic and Riqui Puig should also be involved.
Koeman will be looking for youngsters to step forward and prove themselves in the coming weeks, and there could be another start at left-back for Alejandro Balde.
As for Girona, Alex Gallar, Jairo Izquierdo, Johan Mojica are among the players to return to the club this summer following loan spells, and it will be interesting to see if they are involved in this contest.
The second-tier outfit are yet to make a signing, but there should still be plenty of familiar names in the shape of Cristhian Stuani and former Leeds United attacker Samuel Saiz.
Head To Head
These two sides also locked horns in a pre-season friendly last September, with Barcelona running out 3-1 winners courtesy of a double from Messi and first-half Philippe Coutinho strike.
The last competitive meeting between Barcelona and Girona came in January 2019, with the Catalan giants picking up all three points courtesy of a 2-0 victory.
Girona held Barcelona to a 2-2 draw when the pair locked horns earlier in the season, though, with Stuani scoring a brace for the visitors to Camp Nou.
We say: Barcelona 2-0 Girona
Barcelona will once again be missing a number of first-team players for this match, but we are still expecting the Catalan giants to be too strong and have backed a two-goal success routine for Koeman’s side.