Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Segunda Division clash between Girona and Eibar, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Girona and Eibar will lock horns in the semi-finals of the Segunda Division playoffs, with the first leg of the contest due to take place at Estadi Montilivi on Thursday night.
The away team finished third in the final table, just one point behind champions Almeria, while Girona were sixth, 12 points behind their opponents in this two-legged playoff affair.
Girona have been present in the second tier of Spanish football since being relegated from La Liga in 2019, finishing fifth, fifth and sixth in their last three campaigns.
Last term, the White and Reds lost 3-2 on aggregate to Rayo Vallecano in the final, and they will be looking to go a step further this season to secure just their third-ever La Liga football campaign.
Girona won 20, drew eight and lost 14 of their 42 league matches in 2021-22 to collect 68 points, leaving them only ahead of seventh-place Real Oviedo on the head-to-head record.
Michel’s side only won one of their last four league games of the campaign and finished with a goalless draw at Burgos on Sunday, but it proved enough for them to book their position in the playoffs.
Girona have already lost twice to Eibar this season, including a 1-0 defeat in their meeting at Estadi Montilivi back in February, with their last Segunda Division success over Thursday’s opponents coming back in August 2013.
Eibar were relegated from La Liga last season courtesy of finishing bottom of the division, but they have a chance to secure an automatic return to the top level for the 2022-23 campaign.
Los Armeros would have won the Segunda Division if they managed to beat Alcorcon on Sunday, but Gaizka Garitano‘s side suffered a 1-0 defeat, which left them in third position in the table.
The fact that champions Almeria and second-placed Real Valladolid finished just a point above Eibar will have been difficult for them to take, and they will be taking on a team that collected 12 fewer points over the course of the campaign.
Garitano’s side had the fourth-best away record in the Segunda Division during the 2021-22 campaign, collecting 33 points, but they will be taking on a Girona outfit that had the fourth-best home record, picking up 42 points during a strong season .
Eibar will be bidding to secure an advantage ahead of the second leg on home soil on June 5, and either Tenerife or Las Palmas will be waiting in the final for one of these two teams.
Girona Segunda Division form:
Eibar Segunda Division form:
Girona will again be missing Dario Sarmiento due to a hamstring problem, but the home side are otherwise in good shape heading into the first leg of the semi-final.
Michel could decide to select the same XI that started against Burgos on Sunday, with Borja Garcia, Samuel Saiz and Alex Baena playing behind leading goalscorer Cristhian Stuani.
The 35-year-old has scored 22 league goals during a strong campaign and will be looking to hand Girona a first-leg advantage on Thursday night.
Eibar, meanwhile, have not reported any fitness problems ahead of the contest, so Garitano could have a full squad to choose from for this playoff semi-final.
There could be a change on the left for the visitors, with Miguel Atienza potentially coming into the side, but Fran Sol should again get the nod at center-forward over the experienced Fernando Llorente.
Stoichkov has scored 21 league goals during an impressive campaign, and the 28-year-old will again operate in the number 10 position for the visitors.
Girona possible starting lineup:
Carlos; Martinez, Bueno, Espinosa, Izquierdo; Lozano, A Garcia; Baena, Saiz, B Garcia; Stuani
Eibar possible starting lineup:
Cantero; Correa, Vencio, Rodriguez, Tono; Alvarez, Exposito; Corpas, Stoichkov, Atienza; Fran Sol
We say: Girona 1-1 Eibar
We fancy Eibar to beat Girona over two legs, but the visitors might be forced to accept a draw on Thursday. Girona’s home form this season has been strong, recording 13 league victories, and we can see the two teams playing out a low-scoring draw in this contest.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.