Monday, May 27, 2024

Barcelona pleased to have second-place battle with Girona in their own hands

SoccerNews in La Liga 14 May 2024

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Barcelona face a tough battle to secure a second-place finish in LaLiga but are pleased to have their fate in their own hands with three games remaining, says defender Inigo Martinez.

Barca leapfrogged Girona into second with Monday’s 2-0 home win over Real Sociedad, going one point clear of their Catalan rivals after they drew 2-2 with Alaves on Friday.

Lamine Yamal put Xavi’s team ahead in the 40th minute when he coolly slotted home from Ilkay Gundogan’s pass after a quick breakaway, then Raphinha’s stoppage-time penalty made certain of the win.

The Blaugrana go to Almeria on Thursday before hosting Rayo Vallecano in their final home game of the season on Sunday. They then bring their campaign to a close at Sevilla on May 25.

“There is still a long way to go. It will be a battle to the end. Girona are very strong,” Martinez told Movistar after Monday’s game.

“It’s in our hands now. I think the team is very good. It’s three valuable points. We had some mistakes in the first half, but in the second half I think we could have finished it off earlier.”

Teenage winger Yamal believes Xavi’s side – who are some 14 points adrift of champions Real Madrid – may need maximum points to hold off Girona.

“It was an important game to regain second place and we have to try to make it a nine-point week,” the 16-year-old said.

“La Real did very well in the first half but then we were able to improve. There was a good feeling in the whole team.”

Xavi, meanwhile, was pleased to see his team pass a difficult test, saying: “La Real always make it difficult for us.

“They are always very organised, aggressive, you don’t create danger for them. It’s an important victory for us. We played a good game in general.”

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