Barcelona made it a club-record eight league wins on the trot, as they comfortably saw their way passed Girona thanks to goals by Messi and Semedo.
Girona vs Barcelona: match report
LaLiga leaders Barcelona restored their five-point cushion over Atlético Madrid after they beat neighbours Girona 2-0 at the Estadi Municipal Montilivi on Sunday.
Goals from Nelson Semedo and Lionel Messi were enough for Barca to secure a club-record eight consecutive LaLiga victories, as well as a record 33 consecutive away games in which they have scored one or more goals.
It only took the visitors eight minutes to open the scoring through Semedo, who drove his 12-yard strike into the bottom right corner to mark his first goal for the Blaugrana since joining from Benfica in 2017. Barcelona looked comfortable for the rest of the half, but Girona almost drew level in the 42’ through Stuani, who was only denied by a Pique clearance off the line.
Stuani had another chance to level just five minutes after the break. The Girona striker latched on to a poor Pique headed clearance, beating two defenders to leave himself one on one with Ter Stegen, but drove his shot straight at the Barca keeper. And just two minutes later, hopes of a Girona comeback were suddenly dashed when Bernardo picked up a second yellow card for a challenge on Suarez to receive his marching orders.
Capitalising on the extra man, Barca then stepped up a gear, running the hosts ragged before going 2-0 up in the 69’, when Messi, in acres of space, received a squared pass from Alba, took one touch and then calmly chipped the ball over Bono to score his first-ever goal at the Montilivi.
Barca continued to dominate and almost had a third through Messi again in the 77’ and Suarez in the 93’, with the Uruguayan’s saved strike from 10 yards out proving to be the last action of the game, as the ref blew the game up before the visitors had a chance to put the resultant corner into the box. Valverde’s men host Valencia next in the league, and will be confident that they can extend their record winning streak to nine straight victories.
Girona vs Barcelona: as it happened
Girona vs Barcelona: match preview
Barcelona travel to Girona on Sunday for what has been one of the most talked-about fixtures of the season.
The encounter has been the centre of attention since last summer when LaLiga began pushing to have the game played in Miami. But with Fifa and the Spanish FA against the controversial move, in the end it wasn’t to be and so Valverde’s men will take the short one-hour bus journey to the Estadi Municipal Montilivi, where the last fixture between the two sides in September, 2017 ended 0-3 to the visitors.
First-placed Barcelona will be looking to make it eight wins on the trot in LaLiga and restore their five-point cushion over Atlético Madrid, who kept the pressure on the leaders with a 2-0 victory over Getafe yesterday.
Lionel Messi will be expected to return to the starting line-up for the Girona clash after having sat on the bench in the 2-0 defeat to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey mid-week. With Valverde’s other star performer, Ousmane Dembélé missing the game through a minor ankle injury, he could hand January loan signing Kevin Prince-Boateng his LaLiga debut. Samuel Umtiti and Rafinha are the other two players unavailable to the Barca coach for a game Barcelona will be hotly tipped to win.
With Barcelona’s rampant attacking partnership of Suarez and Messi, Girona will be under no illusions of the task that lies ahead. With 33 goals, Messi and Suarez have scored 10 more between them than the entire Girona team have managed all season. But Eusebio’s players will take some solace from the fact that they were able to take a point from the champions at the Camp Nou in a game that ended 2-2 back in September – something the coach will no doubt remind his players in their pre-match team talk.
Their star man Cristhian Stuani scored both goals on that occasion and will be hoping to add to his tally of 12 LaLiga goals this campaign. Stuani, who has impressed this season and is LaLiga’s third highest goal scorer after Messi and Suarez, is reportedly a prime target for Barcelona in the January transfer window. But his focus on Sunday will no doubt be on securing three points and a sixth league win for the Gironistes, which would likely move them from 13th to 9th position in the LaLiga standings.