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
93' And that was the last action of the game! Barcelona head back to the Catalan capital with the three points, thanks to goals by Semedo (8') and Messi (69').
93' Messi beats a couple of defenders before passing to Suarez, who hits it first time from 10 yards out, but it's saved by Bono.
92 Coutinho is one-on-one with the keeper again, but he's fails to capitalise. Just sums up his season really.
91' Three minutes added on here. Barca will just look to hang on to their clean sheet.
88' Girona swing one in from the free kick, but Barca clear it away.
86' Granell comes off for Girona. And on comes the Korean Seung-ho Paik
82' Busquest, who has a yellow, makes way for Sergi Roberto.
80' With 19 goals, Messi is the highest scorer of all of Europe's top five leagues, two ahead of Mbappé in second.
77' Messi almost makes it three! Suarez latches onto a loose ball by the six-yard box and tees up his team mate. But Bono does well to deny Messi's strike from 8 yards out.
69' Suarez releases Alba down the left. He sqaures it to Messi, who is in acres of spaces. He takes a touches to bring the ball into the box, before calmly dinking it over the oncoming Bono. Pure class from the Argentine, who scores his first ever goal at the Montilivi stadium. That's surely game over now for ten-men Girona.
69' Goal Messi!!!!
68' Barca are in control here now, passing around and running the hosts ragged.
65' Messi is darting towards the box but his pass to Coutinho is blocked. Danger averted for Girona.
60' Barca passing it around with ease in and around the Girona area, but they can't get a shot off. Eventually Alba lobs one in towards Suarez but it's too deep and out for a goal kick.
57' Stuani is appealing for a penalty as a high ball comes in from deep, but it seems he's fallen over himself. Girona are so far coping well with ten men here.
55' Stuani is in again... he shoots from just outside the box. It's low and bound for the right corner, but Ter Stegen does well to get down to save.
52' And just when Girona looked close to drawing level, Bernardo has picked up a second yellow for a challenge on Suarez and is given his marching orders. The home crowd are undestandably furious. It wasn't an awful challenge but enough to warrant a yellow card. But that's his second and he's off, making Girona's uphill battle all the more difficult now.
50' Stuani! Pique fails to properly deal with a long ball and it falls to Stuani, who does well to beats two defenders, but his shot is straight at Ter Stegen. He'll be kicking himself for not scoring.
47' Messi shoots! But it's Bono watches it sail over the bar. Another disappointing free kick from the Barca captain.
46' Barcelona get the second half underway and almost immediately win a free kick for a challenge on Messi. Chance now for the visitors.
46' And that's the end of the first half! Barcelona had been looking comfortable until Girona nearly scored in the 42nd minute, only to be denied by a Pique clearence off the line. But that was the only real opportunity for the hosts, who will have to seriously raise their game in the second half if they are going to get anything out of this game. Messi, meanwhile, has been orchestrating the Barca attack, creating several chances for his team mates. Valverde will urge them to push on for that second and third to put the game past Girona.
42' Pique clears off the line for Barcelona!! Stuani's first strike is saved by Ter Stegen. Pons grabs the rebounded shot, and tries to sidefoot it into the left corner. Ter Stegen was in no man's land as he tried to recover from saving the first effort, but luckily for him, Pique is on hand to clear it off the line.
36' Vidal goes into the book for a high-leg challenge on Granell.
33' Messi sucks in four defenders and slots a nice ball through for the unmarked Rakitic on the left side of the box, but the linesman raises his flag for offside.
32' Girona's Portu with a glancing header from just outside the box! But it's gone well wide of the Ter Stegen's left post.
31' It's a poor free kick from Messi and shouldered away by a Girona defender in the wall.
29' Bernardo is booked for a challenge on Messi inches outside the box. Danger now for the hosts as Messi lines up the free kick...
23' Suarez is surrounded at the byline and somehow manages to lob the ball back to Messi just outside the box. The Argentine takes one touch to tee himself up for a shot with his left, but it sails just over left upright.
21' Messi passes to Coutinho, runs forward to recieve the one-two inside the box, and tries to weave through three Girona defenders. And he almost does so.
16' Coutinho is through and he's one-on-one with the keeper... but he hits it straight at him! That could have been two, but it was never going to be bread and butter for a player currently lacking a lot of confidence.
13' Stuani appealing for a penalty! But the ref doesn't even call for VAR, much to the anger of the home crowd.
10' That was Semedo's first goal for Barcelona since joining from Benfica in 2017.
9' Awful defending from Girona, who failed to clear their lines on a couple of occasions in the build up, before the ball fell to the unmarked Semedo. The full back took advantage, driving one into the bottom right corner from inside the box. That was the first shot of the game!
9' GOAAALLLL Barcelona!!
6' Positive stuff from Girona... Fernandez and Portu link up well on the left, before the latter puts in a cross towards Stuani. But it's too deep and easily dealt with by Ter Stegen.
5' Messi delivers a cross in from a free kick on the left. It bounces off a couple of heads before eventually landing in the hands of Bono.
3' Suarez twists and turns on the left, puts in a cross but it's cleared by the hosts. First threat from Barca.
1' Stuani trying to create some early problems for Barcelona, but he's eventually dispossessed.
1' And Girona get the game underway!
Barcelona can break two records in domestic competition today with a win: which would make it a record 8 consecutive wins in the league and a record 33 consecutive away games in which they have scored one or more goals.
Out-of-favour Coutinho has his chance today in the absence of Ousmane Dembélé. It has been a disappointing for the the Brazilian, for whom Barca shelled out a club record 160 million euros.
Girona starting XI: Bono, Bernardo, Alcala, Granell, Stuani, Pere Pons, Portu, Juanpe, Alex Garcia, Pedro, Valery
Cristhian Stuani, 32, has reportedly emerged as a target for Barcelona following his 12 goals for Girona this season. Quizzed about a looming switch to Camp Nou, Stuani – who reportedly has a €15 million release clause – told reporters: "I can't say anything."
Interestingly, Lionel Messi has never scored a goal at Girona's Montilivi stadium. Who would bet against him putting an end to that anomaly today?
LaLiga's top three goal scorers will be on the field today: Messi (18), Suarez (15) and Stuani (12)
Instead of taking a flight to Miami for this fixture (as LaLiga wanted but in the end did not happen), Barcelona have taken the short one-hour ride to Girona for this Catalan derby...
After months of speculation, Barcelona finally announced the signing of Ajax starlet Frenkie de Jong, who has already said he does not want to wear the number 14 shirt to avoid Cryuff comparisons. You can read about that here.
Barcelona starting XI: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Rakitic, Busquets, Suarez, Messi, Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Vidal, Lenglet
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Girona and Barclenoa at the Estadi Municipal Montilivi, where Barcelona have just arrived a few minutes ago and are making their way to the dressing room.
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.