Preview: Barcelona v Girona

Barcelona will be aiming to maintain their unbeaten record in La Liga this season when they host an in-form Girona outfit on Saturday night.

La Liga
Date: 24 February 2018
Match Day 25
Kick-off: 21H45 local time
Venue: Camp Nou
Referee: J. Alberola
Assistants: I. Hernandez, I. De Francisco
Fourth official: A. Gonzalez

Head-to-head summary: 

TEAM             MATCHES  WIN   DRAW   LOSS

Barcelona          3                3           0          0      
Girona               3                 0          0          3

Previous encounter: 

Girona 0-3 Barcelona 23/09/17 (La Liga)

Barcelona goalscorers: Aday (OG 17'), Iraizoz (OG 48'), L. Suarez (69')

Players to watch: 

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have been dominating the scoring charts for Barcelona this season. The pair have scored a combined 48 goals and produced 23 assists between them, with Messi netting 28 and Suarez bagging 20.

Striker Cristhian Stuani is Girona's main weapon in the final third. The former Middlesbrough man has scored 13 goals in 20 games across all competitions, and was also on the scoresheet in the 3-0 win over Leganes last week.

Team form and manager quotes: 

The Catalans are yet to suffer a defeat in the league this campaign and have opened up a seven-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid. They have won eight and drawn two of their last 10 La Liga outings.

The Blaugrana come into the clash on the back of a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. Ernesto Valverde's men came back from a goal down thanks to Lionel Messi's 75th-minute equaliser.

Valverde received some criticism for his decision to bring on Aleix Vidal and not Ousmane Dembele against Chelsea, but the Barca boss explained after the game, telling the press: “Why Aleix and not Dembele? [Dembele’s] been out injured for a while, and for a match like this, Coaches go with the things they know best.

“Aleix also gives us things, a different profile. When we’re faced with a match like this, I rely on certainties."

Meanwhile, Girona are looking to build on their 3-0 victory over CD Leganes in their most recent La Liga fixture. Stuani, Portu, and Juanpe scored to secure the comfortable victory for Girona last week.

The Blanquivermell have been in good form recently, losing only once in their last six games, against Sevilla. During the run, Girona hammered Las Palmas 6-0 before wins over Athletic Bilbao and Leganes.

Asked if he would take a draw at Camp Nou, Girona manager Pablo Machin told the press: "It's difficult for me to respond. Before a game, I would never sign anything that's now a win, but I have to recognise that a draw against Barca would be very good."

Team news: 

Barcelona should have a full-strength side, with Ousmane Dembele expected to return to the starting lineup.

Girona have doubts regarding the fitness of centre-back Pedro Alcala.

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