Girona vs Real Madrid: match report
It may have only been matchday 2 but with all the background noise that has come with Madrid's summer, this was a game that carried plenty significance. And two goals from Karim Benzema, as well as those from Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos made sure it was a satisfactory night in Catalonia for the capital boys.
Right from the off the pattern of the game took shape. Los Blancos would have much of the ball but would rarely be in possession without a red-and-white shirt in very close attention. This resulted in a number of errors and Girona were quick to take advantage when they were in control, more often than not targeting Madrid's left-back area. Whether Eusebio felt that Marcelo wasn't at his best, or whether the plan was to expose the space he left, was unclear, but the tactic worked.
On the 17th minute Borja Garcia struck. The ball reached him near the penalty spot and rather than shoot first time, dropped the shoulder and then struck hard and high into the top right corner. Precision finish. Madrid upped the tempo a little, but the goal allowed Girona to drop back a few yards and make space even harder to find, all the time looking to expose the white defence at any opportunity.
Chances were being made but few of the clear variety, until some last ditch defending from Girona allowed the ball to break loose in their area. Marco Asensio was first to it and was tripped by a late lunge. Penalty! Up stepped the captain and another successful Panenka for the collection.
That was what Madrid needed. Both teams came out for the second half after a hard-fought first 45, and the visitors slowly started to turn the screw. A second penalty, again made by Asensio, was this time converted expertly by Benzema and the hosts' fight seemed to leave them as the hour mark ticked over. Bale was lively for much of the game and added to his season's tally with a neat finish after running on to a delightful Isco pass, and then the Welshman turned provider for Benzema's second.
Eusebio can be pleased with much of his team's performance - a first half that at times had the hallmarks of repeating their victory in the same fixture last season - but over the piece he'll have few complaints over the rightful winner. Lopetegui will know that there is still plenty of work to do with this group if he is to challenge the best in LaLiga and Europe, but there were enough positives to take forward, most notably the impact of Asensio and Benzema. And his bench offers options that few clubs can boast.
Girona vs Real Madrid: how it happened
Thanks for joining us. What looked like it could be a very tricky night for Real Madrid, ended with a comfortable victory.
90'+4' Full-time | Girona 1-4 Real Madrid
90'+4' Madrid see out the final seconds with no real urgency to add a fifth.
90'+3' Asensio is released through the middle and with just one defender covering, and a supporting cast arriving, it was a surprise to see him shot straight against his sole barrier. Corner offers nothing.
90'+1' Shot from distance has Navas diving sharply to his right and punching clear.
90' There will be four added minutes
88' The vitality has cerainly gone out of this game since the third and especially the fourth goals for Madrid.
87' Benzema into the book. A lazy foot left with the studs up.
85' Bale almost in for another chance. Clever ball forward from wide for the Welshman to chase but Bernardo gets a foot to it first.
83' Much of this second half has been a lesson for Girona who worked so hard to be in the contest in the first half. Feeling like a bit of a stroll to the final whistle now for the guests.
Wait a minute. Ref touches ear, and we wait to hear if it's ruled out for offside... Nope, goal stands. Although beyond final defender, looks like the striker was in line with the ball as it left Bale's foot.
80' 1-4 GOAL!! After nice play out wide, Bale crosses to Benzema who controls and picks his spot past Bono.
78' Chance! Keylor called into action and does his job pushing away the effort from Borja. A goal there could've made it a nervy end.
77' Modric makes an appearance with Isco making way.
75' Great interplay between Isco, Benzema and Asensio whose fluidity opens up the Girona backline. The final ball evades everyone though.
71' Marco Asensio growing in this game (it helps when you're two goals up!) and sends Nacho free with a firm backheel that removes a couple of defenders. Nacho's cross is blocked.
70' Nice feet on the edge of the area from Benzema. He then rolls the ball across to Kroos who takes a touch and tries a power-driver. Instead he creates a daisy-tickler.
68' Throw to Madrid deep in the opposition half is worked smartly from right to left then back into the centre. The spaces keep being filled by red-and-white shirts until Asensio drifts past a challenge and into the area. He's not alone for long and under pressure overhits the cross.
66' Carvajal fouls Borja after a stray backheel from Casemiro and gets a card shown
64' Low this time from Bale and the wall does its job.
63' Bale hits a lovely free-kick which is saved one-handed on the line. Ref calls the play back for encroachment.
62' 62'Muniesa into the book for obstructing Bale's run looking to be released by Asensio who had carried the ball some distance. Chance for the Welshman to try his luck from just outside the area to the right.
Stuani on for Lozano; Varane comes on for the much-targeted Marcelo
60' 1-3 GOAL!! Gareth Bale is set free with plenty green to run into. He outsprints his marker, opens his body, and curls a left-footed effort passed the out-rushing Bono. Lovely finish.
58' Chance! Madrid lose possession high up the field and Portu scampers free, leaving Ramos for dead. Only a well-anticipating Keylor Navas prevents a very likely goal sliding in to prevent the danger. Madrid playing with fire.
55' Chance! From that throw, the play is swiftly moved across to the right and Granell gets off an impressive shot which is saved by Keylor.
54' Some loose play under pressure in the left-back position sees Ramos knock the ball out for a throw to Girona.
52' 1-2 GOAL!! No Panenka from the Frenchman, who slots home into the right side-netting. Good start to the second half from the visitors.
51' Penalty for Madrid! Asensio brought down clumsily as he skips away near the touchline. Benzema this time...
50' Ooooohhh!! Bale again, but this time a masterful control high on his chest and a first-time volley on his right foot. Great save from Bono.
48' Chance! Bale is played in by Benzema and tries a first time effort on his left foot. It won't make the highlights (I hope!)
46' Madrid are quick to win back possession and work it back to Navas. Two very sloppy passes then gift their opponents with a chance to make something in their penalty area. There's a faint shout for a penalty as Madrid clear up their own mess.
Girona get this second half underway.
Players are heading back out onto the field. There are no changes to either side but there is a certain Luka Modric warming up.
Stat attack | Madrid have had 10 shots to Girona's 5 and the visitors have also recorded more than double the number of passes (164 vs 361). But even with 69% of the ball, the opportunites to in the areas are not significantly in their favour.
The players head off for some carefully crafted words from their respective managers as we take a look back over an intriguing, if not overwhelming, first half.
Peeeeeeep! Half-time. Girona 1-1 Real Madrid
45' Nice run down the left wing from the impressive Karim Benzema. His ball across the area is scuffed by Asensio and then Bale can't do more than fire it low into the arms of Bono. Time almost up here...
43' One thing that has been evident in this first half is that Girona have been targeting Marcelo or, if not the player himself, the space that he often leaves unoccupied. Plenty danger coming from it too.
40' Lozano is almost immediately putting the home side back in front, steaming in down the inside-right channel and firing low and hard. Keylor saves well.
38' 1-1 GOAL!! A Panenka from the Madrid captain sees Bono dive away in vain.
37' Penalty! A couple of chances come and go for Madrid in a hectic few seconds and as the ball goes loose, Marco Asensio nicks it away from the defender who catches his leg. Clear as you like. Ramos to step up...
First booking of the game for Pedro Porro
34' Chance! Ramos again with a header. This time with space to do something with Marcelo's delivery but he doesn't connect well.
32' Sergio Ramos hadn't returned to his defensive role from that last corner so was in the area to try and get his head on a cross that followed. Under pressure he couldn't make it count.
31' Boom! Kroos let's fly first time on a Bale roll back but Timor is in the way and deflects the shot for a corner. Nothing comes of it.
29' Los Blancos struggling to get in behind their opponents right now. So Marcelo takes matters into his own hands, cuts in from the left and pulls the trigger from distance. His right foot sight needs a little tweak.
25' Chance! Too easy there for Girona as Portu gets on the end of a one-two that negates Marcelo. His ball across the goal causes all sorts of problems and Nacho has to partially clear the danger from almost on the goalline. Two further attempts are then blocked. Madrid have to be careful here...
23' Like a fumbling addict, Girona have dropped their line. Playing a few metres back from where they were before the goal, they are now asking Madrid to break them down while keeping an eye on the counter opportunities.
20' Lovely example there of the confidence that the Catalans are playing with. Isco tries a clever chip over the covering player and is blocked. Granell then shows him how it's done with some nifty footwork.
18' Madrid will likely step up the pace of this game now as they chase an equaliser. The opening phase was all about patience.
A wonderful finish from Borja Garcia into the top right corner of the goal. As the ball broke to him in the area he faked an immediate shot - sending Casemiro flying into a wasted block - only to compose himself and slot home.
15' 1-0 GOAL!! Girona take a surprise lead.
14' Chance! Lovely move involving Isco and Asensio results in the former opening his foot too much and guiding the pass just wide of Bono's far post.
12' Some cool defending there from Madrid as the ball is played out of their own area, eventually into the feet of the unusually deep Gareth Bale. The red-and-white-shirted sticking plaster on his back fouled him as he tried to escape.
11' Portu is the main outlet for the host in the opening period and his runs into the right channel are giving the crowd something to cheer.
Clearly, with the introduction of VAR, situations like that we've just seen end with the penalised team's players and manager drawing rectangles in the air. The replay showed the French striker was well, well ahead of the penultimate player.
8' Gooaaaaa....no! Benzema sprints in behind the Girona defence and cooly strokes the ball into the far corner of the net. Offside flag is up.
6' First cross into the opposition penalty box from the visitors. Bale whips the ball across from the left with pace but Bono is up to the task and intercepts.
4' Nacho carelessly gives the ball away there in the middle of the park, which gives Borja García the chance to switch the play to Portu. Keylor comes to near the edge of his area and catches cleanly.
3' That control is developed down the left as Kroos looks to push the action into the more productive end of the pitch. Girona do well to close down the spaces and force the team in white back into their own territory.
2' Real Madrid get the ball moving and maintain possession in their own half for the opening couple of minutes.
And we're off!
A bit of a delay as the players are out waiting but the time hasn't reached the appropriate minute...
Headline-makers (not always for the right reasons) Bale and Benzema will again be out to make the difference. Our very own Guillem Balague wrote this piece today on how the Welshman is ready for the big step-up.
Nacho keeping his place in defence makes sense. Varane for me comes out best when they're both at their top level but going on that Super Cup game, Varane could do with a little break.
The decision to leave Modric on the bench has raised some eyebrows, with speculation rife. Is he really considering leaving the European champions? What tensions are there between him and Lopetegui?...Or is he just being used sparingly at the start of a season when the key players will be needed at other, potentially more difficult, times?
Courtois was outstanding during his Russian summer, helping Belgium to an impressive third-placed finish. His arrival had many believing that Keylor Navas - that Costa Rican lad who's been in goal for the last three Champions League wins - was on his way out of the Bernabéu, or at least dropping down the pecking order. Two games in, and he's keeping his place.
As we mentioned in our preview, Lopetegui had key decisions to make for tonight's line-up, and the outcome of those have been interesting. Let's start with the goalkeeping situation...
The visitors' substitutes boast the World Cup best player and best goalkeeper in Luka Modric and Thibaut Courtois as well as World Cup winner Raphael Varane, Marcos Llorente, Borja Mayoral and Dani Ceballos.
So, as we've seen, Cristhian Stuani didn't make it to the starting line up for the hosts and takes a seat on the Girona bench along with Gorka Iraizoz, Pedro Alcala, Aday, Patrick Roberts, Aleix Garcia, Seung-Ho Paik
With around an hour to kick-off the team sheets have been shared...
Girona started off their league campaign with a 0-0 draw to Valladolid, while Los Blancos picked up a much-welcomed three points at home to Getafe.
Good evening and welcome to our live coverage of the LaLiga game between Girona and Real Madrid. Stay with us as we build up to the late Sunday fixture ahead of our minute-by-minute commentary.
Girona vs Real Madrid: match preview
It's matchday two and a fixture that brings back some painful memories in the minds of those connected with Real Madrid. In October 2017, a 2-1 reverse by the Blanquivermell was the point when Zinedine Zidane and his players looked at the chase for the league title as a lost cause. A similar result tonight will not see the Liga towel thrown in by any means, however, for new manager Julen Lopetegui, it would mean an increase in the already pressured position he finds himself in.
Girona: team news
Opening up their campaign on the first Friday of the season ended in a respectable goalless draw against Real Valladolid for tonight's hosts. Portu was one of the scorers in this fixture last year and along with Roberts and Garcia looked lively. They'll likely be the main threats again. Stuani is a doubt for this high-profiled encounter but will hope to take his place in the XI.
Real Madrid: team news
A comfortable 2-0 home win got the season off to a perfect start but Lopetegui knows that bigger challenges lie ahead of that Getafe stroll. He also has personnel questions to answer: Courtois or Keylor, being an obvious one, but also how to best use Isco, Asensio, Modric and Ceballos (the latter most likely to start on the bench). Casemiro should be back from the start while Bale and Benzema asked to provide the cutting edge when it counts.