Monday, June 17, 2024

Barcelona 0-0 Girona: What Were The Main Talking Points As Xavi’s Side Settle For A Stalemate In The Catalonia Derby?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, La Liga 10 Apr 2023

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Missing out on the chance to claim Catalonia bragging rights on Monday night, Barcelona were forced to settle for a 0-0 stalemate against Girona at the Nou Camp.

While Xavi’s side might have been seeking an immediate response following their remarkable Copa del Rey collapse at the hands of Real Madrid on April 5th, they did widen their buffer at the top of the La Liga table.

Watching Los Blancos eventually get hit with a stunning 3-2 loss against Villarreal over the weekend, Monday’s 0-0 draw now means that the Spanish heavyweights hold a 13-point buffer over the chasing pack.

Although the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Gavi might have missed late chances here, it is only a matter of time before Barcelona get their hands on a first domestic crown since 2019.

While Girona might have made the trip across Catalonia knowing that they faced a huge uphill battle, Michel’s men will take plenty of positives away from a gritty display at the Nou Camp.

In a showdown that was largely one-way traffic on Monday night, we have taken a look at the main talking points as Xavi’s side inch towards La Liga history.

A frustrating night for Barca

Suffering a stunning Copa del Rey exit on April 5th after slumping to a 4-0 drumming at home against Real Madrid, Xavi had made it clear that he was calling on his young squad to make an immediate response on Monday night.

However, while Barcelona might have created a string of clear-cut chances here, there will be some frustration around the Nou Camp that the runaway leaders missed out on the chance to make a Catalonia statement.

Watching Los Blancos eventually slump to a late 3-2 defeat at home against Villarreal on Saturday afternoon, many were expecting Barca to lay down another routine title marker on home soil.

Nevertheless, although Barca might have been disappointed after only collecting a single point on Monday night, Xavi’s side will know that it is only a matter of time until they’re crowned La Liga champions for the first time since 2019.

Only continuing on what has been a remarkable top-flight flurry on either side of the World Cup’s winter break, the champions-elect have lost just a pair of La Liga appearances this season and Monday’s 0-0 stalemate is nothing more than a minor blip on their exceptional record.

Defensive steel is the backbone of Xavi’s success

Although the likes of Lewandowski might have continued on yet another free-scoring run since making the move from Bayern Munich last summer, it has been Barcelona’s defensive resolve that has been the backbone of their success.

While Xavi’s camp might have come under real scrutiny last year as they suffered another public European collapse, Monday’s hosts have gained a real reputation for their steel-like displays at the back.

With Girona failing to record a single shot on target here, Barca have shipped just nine La Liga strikes in their 28 appearances this season – 11 less than Atletico Madrid who currently hold the second-best defensive tally in Spain’s top-flight.

Watching the likes of Ronaldo Araujo and Alejandro Balde really make an immediate impact since bursting onto the first-team scene, the runaway leaders have also conceded just a single La Liga strike in over 400 minutes of action.

Likewise, Xavi’s side have also shipped just a single top-flight goal at the Nou Camp since they played out a 1-1 draw against Espanyol on New Year’s Eve.

Girona will be dreaming of a top-half finish

Although Monday’s 0-0 stalemate at the Nou Camp might mean that Girona have now claimed just a single La Liga victory from their previous six appearances, Michel’s side has largely impressed since making their top-flight return this season.

Marking their return from the international break with a much-needed 2-1 win at home against local rivals and leading relegation contenders Espanyol on April 1st, the Gironistes will now be seeking some stability during the final few weeks.

Sat just a single point adrift of breaking into the top-half and almost sat in La Liga limbo, the one-time Rayo Vallecano boss was filled with praise for his side’s gritty display here.

Recording just their first top-flight clean sheet since picking up a 1-0 victory at home against Valencia on February 5th, Monday’s guests will know that easier tests await.

Really frustrating the champions-elect and now unbeaten in each of their last three domestic appearances – their longest unbeaten run since opening 2023.

Match Report

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Kounde, Araujo, E. Garcia, Balde, Gavi, Busquets, Roberto, Raphinha, Lewandowski, Fati

Subs: Torres, Alba, Kessie

Girona: Gazzaniga, Martinez, Bueno, Lopez, Hernandez, Romeu, Tsygankov, Martin, B. Garcia, Villa, Castellanos

Subs: Couto, Riquelme, A. Garcia, Fernandez, Stuani

Goals: N/A

Yellow Cards: Stuani, Castellanos

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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