La Liga Match Centre News 

Girona 2-1 Real Madrid: Hosts claw back stunning victory

Girona coach Pablo Machín commented before the match that today’s encounter against Real Madrid would be like a party for his players. It certainly was.

Los Blancos had been the favourites to take three points from the Montilivi. They were hoping to keep the pressure on La Liga leaders Barcelona. But, Real Madrid now find themselves eight points adrift of the Blaugrana club. For Girona, this was the last major club that has not yet visited the Montilivi this season. The whites and reds succeeded in making it difficult for Los Blancos.

Not all of the hype was just due to the football. Both managers were eager to point out that their main focus was on the match, but a visit to the Catalan heartland from a team in the capital was always going to be tense given the current political situation.

Real Madrid were without Carvajal, Kovacic, Navas and Bale. Girona, on the other hand, were still without centre-back Alcalá while Eloi Amagat was out with an ankle injury.

At the start, it looked like Girona might be the first to get on the scoresheet. They came out swinging with a curled shot from Maffeo which deflected off the post. Just a few minutes later Girona was ruing the missed opportunity as Real Madrid broke and Benzema played in Ronaldo. The keeper was able to block Ronald’s shot, but Isco was in the right place at the right time and made it 0-1 to the visitors. Isco has been on a great run of form and has now scored or assisted 22 goals in his last 30 starts for Real Madrid across all competitions.

Girona did not give up and the game still looked very open. Ronaldo had an opportunity from another Benzema cross, but played it straight at Bono. Then it was at the other end with a header from Portu that beat Casilla but was foiled again by the post.

When the sides came back out after 45 minutes, Real Madrid made their first change and Nacho Fernanez came on for Varane. Girona continued to take the game to Madrid and within 10 minutes they had their reward. Pere Pons teed up Girona’s talisman Stuani who drilled it past Casilla.

Before Madrid could catch their breath, Girona scored a second. Yet again, Stuani was in the thick of things and although his shot was saved by Casilla, it fell kindly to Maffeo whose strike was flicked in by Portu. The home fans went wild as the Montilivi crowd couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing.

Real Madrid coach Zidane responded by bringing on Vazquez and Ascensio for Marcelo and Hakimi. This had little to no effect and Girona actually should have got a third. Stuani once again involved, but his shot deflected wide.

After the match, Zidane was frustrated but optimistic. “I don’t think we played badly, we didn’t lack intensity or effort, we just lost focus at the most important moments and that’s why I’m annoyed. We’re eight points behind but it won’t change anything, we can pick ourselves up, we’ll have better days than this and our rivals are going to drop points.”

Girona’s coach Pablo Machín commented, “Today we have won against Real Madrid playing with our own style of play. I am very satisfied with how the team competed. We have very clear which are our objectives and today we have made a step to distance ourselves from the relegation zone.”

Girona now moves to 11th place and earns a huge confidence boost. At the beginning of this week the Whites and Reds were in need of a win, this week the team responded. An away win against Deportivo on Monday, followed by a home win against the defending champions on Sunday. It’s been a good week for the Catalan club, even considering how delicate the situation is in Catalonia right now.

Even Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, the former mayor of Girona, couldn’t resist chipping in on the symbolism of the match. Puigdemont tweeted, “the victory of Girona FC against one of the best teams in the world is an example and a reference for many situations.”

Meanwhile, it is little rest for Real Madrid who now travel to Wembley for a mid-week Champions League match against Tottenham. Their next tough matchup in La Liga will be on the 19th when they will be playing a derby against Athlético Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. Even though it is still early in the season, Real Madrid need to gain some points back on Barcelona fast. Otherwise, they risk digging too deep of a whole and will be chasing the Catalans all season.

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