Real Galacticos Blow Away Minnows Girona

Jude Bellingham- a hot pospect to become the seventh Britain's Ballon d'Or winner
Jude Bellingham- a hot pospect to become the seventh Britain's Ballon d'Or winner
Matt Biggin
Matt Biggin

published 08:38, 02 February 2024

For a while Girona were sitting unexpectedly at the top of La Liga, making a mockery of preseason predictions, and prompting talk of a title challenge. The Catalans went into last weekend’s crunch clash against Real Madrid 2 points behind Los Blancos, and a full 6 points ahead of fallen giants Barcelona in 3rd. 

Heading into the highly anticipated match at the Bernabéu, many wondered if the high-flying Catalonians could cause an upset, and take points against the dominant force in Spanish football. However, the reality proved markedly different, as Madrid utterly dominated their opponents, ending up with a comprehensive 4-0 victory. 

The Gulf in Class

This wasn’t just a routine win for Real, or a cagey affair decided from a set piece goal. This was a complete demolition of an opponent nowhere near the same level.

Girona have upset the apple cart on a number of occasions this season, particularly with the explosive talents of stars such as Artem Dovbyk and Savinho. However, their attempts to play nice football and go toe-to-toe with the world’s most famous club proved futile.

Carlo Ancelotti is one of the most decorated managers in history for a reason, and his tactical prowess was on full display here, as Real used Carvajal and Tchouameni to constantly press Girona’s star man Dovbyk, who was afforded little time on the ball.

Their man marking in high press situations also caused problems for the Girona backline. The Catalonian side’s tendency to overload central areas led Ancelotti to adopt a narrower backline, this also compensated for their loss of their primary centre backs. Determination and grit is embedded in Madrid’s DNA, and their players rose to a potentially tough occasion in style.

The stats are clear, Real enjoyed more possession (54%), they had more shots (16 to 5), more on target (6 to 0), they made almost 100 more passes (583 to 499). Girona failed to even lay a glove on their opponents, and if this were a boxing match, the towel would almost certainly have been thrown in even before Rodrygo tucked home the fourth on 61 minutes. 

Bellingham On Fire Again

The standout performer in the match was clearly Jude Bellingham, the English midfield prodigy, who is poised to join the elite roster of Britain’s six Ballon d’Or recipients as a future winner. He has been a revelation since his move to Madrid in the summer transfer window. 

The former Borussia Dortmund superstar registered a brace, as he linked up wonderfully with Brazilian superstar Vinicius Junior, who opened the scoring with a wonderful strike, and assisted Bellingham for both his goals. It was one of Vinci Jr’s most impressive recent games for Los Blancos,  

Unfortunately for Madrid, that proved to be Bellingham’s final contribution, as the 22-year-old rolled his ankle, and he had to be substituted on 57 minutes, having taken his goal tally for the season to 20 in all competitions.

Work to do for Girona

At this stage, with Madrid developing a 5-point cushion at the top, we can all but rule Girona out of the title, barring a huge collapse.

The fairytale is over. But La Liga’s surprise package can hold their heads high for how they have pushed bigger teams for the first half of the season.

They, and manager Michel, will have learned plenty from the season so far, and will hope to have a strong close to the campaign so they can secure a Champions League berth.

The future could hold big things for this exciting Girona side, with their brand of beautiful and entertaining football, inspired by legendary coaches such as Cruyff and Guardiola, Girona are an exciting prospect to shake up the league over the coming seasons.

In Conclusion 

The La Liga season may yet bring with it a few twists and turns yet, but it seems that, barring a minor miracle, Real Madrid are likely to win the title once more.

As for Girona, well, the immediate future could be bright, if they can ride early season form and cement a top 4 place. Longer term will be more difficult to place, but the club will no doubt remain hopeful they can achieve success in the coming seasons. 

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