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Barcelona - Girona: predicted starting XIs and team news for LaLiga match day 16

Both Xavi and Míchel have had various injury woes to deal with. Here is the latest update:

Both Xavi and Míchel have had various injury woes to deal with. Here is the latest update:

Barcelona host Girona at Montjuïc in LaLiga EA Sports (Sunday, December 10, with kick off at 3 p.m. ET / noon PT.). Here is the latest team news as well as the predicted starting XIs for each side:

Although he is reluctant to admit it, Xavi Hernández has found a preferred starting XI for the biggest games of this season - and this Sunday’s match against Girona at the Lluís Companys is certainly one of them. Girona are four points ahead of Barça and come to Montjuïc eager to continue making history in the remarkable campaign. The team put out by the azulgrana coach will be the same that played a solid second half against Porto and and gave a decent showing against Atlético de Madrid.

The match against Girona is already of vital importance for Barça, but with Real Madrid’s draw against Betis, the blaugrana now have the chance to close the gap at the top; it is a chance to get closer to the leaders and one that Xavi’s side cannot afford to pass up.

Who will play for Barcelona against Girona?

With Ter Stegen recently undergoing surgery, Iñaki Peña will be back in goal; the stopper from Alicante has the confidence of both the coaching staff and his teammates. With Iñigo Martínez also out of action due to a hamstring injury, Araujo and Christensen will once again be selected as the pair of central defenders while the wide spaces will be left for Koundé on the right, and Cancelo on the left. Marcos Alonso is a late drop out due to “lower back pain” and the Portuguese full-back has, over recent games, shown to have a good on-pitch relationship with his compatriot, João Félix.

In midfield, Gündogan and Frenkie de Jong will occupy the base of the square to organise the team’s play, with the German holding back while the Dutchman is given more freedom. Up front, Pedri and João Félix will play with the aim of causing mischief and havoc in front of the Girona defenders. Up top, Lewandowski will try to break his goal drought while Raphinha will be back in his preferred position on the right wing.

João Félix will be hoping to continue his scoring run in the game against Girona.
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João Félix will be hoping to continue his scoring run in the game against Girona.GORKA LEIZADiarioAS

Girona forced into changes against Barcelona

Girona want to storm Montjuïc. The red and white block, leaping from one record to the next, have only lost one match so far this season (against Madrid in LaLiga), so it would not be a surprise for them to continue their form and come away with something against Barcelona. Míchel, who will be playing his 100th match as Primera División coach, is confident.

However, the manager has had to deal with a few absences up to this points: Yangel Herrera, the Venezuelan midfielder, is a key player in the centre of the pitch alongside Aleix García. He will be out for six weeks and Míchel needs to find a replacement in his squad. Pablo Torre was showing his class as a substitute in the role, but the anti-parent club clause (he is on loan from Barça at Girona) will prevent him from being in the XI this Sunday.

Míchel also has several systems he could use for his team and one of them is to go with a 5-4-1. Girona’s ability to adapt and react during games is just one of the amazing qualities shown by them this season, and the red-and-white block is perfectly moulded for any situation. Miguel, at left-back, is an important piece in the jigsaw as he acts both as a left back and a midfielder, depending on the phase of play.

Who will play for Girona against Barcelona?

Míchel could go with three central defenders: Eric García, David López and Blind. Of course, David López could also see his position pushed forward and put in as a ‘6′ to free up Aleix García and Iván Martín, the likely paring of central midfielders against Barça. In the 5-4-1 system, Yan Couto and Miguel will start as the wide players; both are used to having a lot of influence on the game high up the pitch and have both managed a number of assists this season.

In attack, there is little room for doubt: Dovbyk, Savinho and Tsygankov, who this Sunday will become the Ukrainian with the most games in the history of LaLiga (33), surpassing Yevhen Konoplyanka, will start. They are simply untouchable for Míchel. On the bench will be the game-changing Stuani, who has scored two recent - and crucial - braces: against Valencia in the league and against Orihuela in the Copa del Rey.

Aleix García recently declared his desire to one day play for FC Barcelona.
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Aleix García recently declared his desire to one day play for FC Barcelona.David BorratEFE

Barcelona - Girona predicted starting XIs:

Barcelona predicted XI [4-3-3]:

GK: Iñaki Peña

DEF: Koundé - Araujo - Christensen - Cancelo

MID: Gündogan - De Jong - Pedri

ATT: Raphinha - Lewandowski - Joao Félix


Girona predicted XI [5-4-1]:

GK: Gazzaniga

DEF: Yan Couto - Eric García - David López - Blind - Miguel

MID: Tsygankov - Aleix García - Iván Martín - Savinho

ATT: Dovbyk