Girona welcomed Barcelona to the Estadi Montilivi for the Catalan derby in La Liga – both of whom were playing their sixth game of the season.
Girona went into the game following a mixture of results in their opening games. A surprise 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid to start the season and a 1-0 win against Malaga to follow it up. Since then, Girona hadn’t managed another victory with losses to Atletico Bilbao and Sevilla – most recently a goalless draw away at Leganes.
Barcelona, on the other hand, hadn’t dropped a single point. The Spanish giants had scored 17 goals in just five La Liga games and conceded only two. The confidence of Lionel Messi was on a huge high entering the game with an emphatic four goals in the previous game against Eibar – a game in which Barca won 6-1.
Despite the home advantage for Girona, they had a mountain to climb if they were to overcome the 24-time La Liga champions and stop Lionel Messi in his tracks.
Girona had the opening chance of the game following a poor pass from Barcelona midfielder Paulinho. Douglas Luiz struck a sweet shot from the edge of the box which had Marc-Andre Ter Stegen scrambling, but he managed a save and the rebounded ball was fired wide of the post.
A 25-yard free kick from Messi was well saved and pushed out past the post – the resulting corner opened the scoring for Barca. A deep cross to the back post and full-back Jordi Alba lashed a left-foot volley at the ball, he connected poorly, but the ball deflected from a Girona leg and looped into the net past the helpless goalkeeper- a Francisco Aday own-goal gave Barcelona the lead.
It took Barcelona just two minutes to double their lead following the half-time interval. A back-heel from Vidal from the right side of the penalty area which Luis Suarez inadvertently missed and it sneaked through the legs of the unaware Gorka in the Girona goal – the second own-goal of the game.
Girona almost managed to pull one back ten minutes into the second half. A deep corner to the back post which Michael Olunga rose highest to meet – a good connection on the ball with his head but Ter Stegen was equal to the effort as he smothered the ball in a crowded penalty area.
Luis Suarez added to the Barcelona scoreline with 20 minutes remaining in the game. The Uruguayan beat the offside trap of the Girona defence after several failed attempts – a great first touch from the lobbed through pass and a seemingly easy finish to the bottom near corner past the helpless Gorka in the Girona goal.
Girona ended the game pressing forward looking for a consolation goal. A dangerous ball in from the right wing won the home side a corner. The quickly taken set-piece worked down the left flank before a cross came in – a bicycle kick from Riera Pere Pons caused a scramble in the away side’s six-yard box, but it was cleared away to deny Girona their first goal against Barcelona.
A comfortable win for Barcelona in the Catalonia derby – despite Messi being marked throughout the game by the tenacious play of Pablo Maffeo – the man given the difficult task in guarding the Argentine.
The quick passing of Barca opened up Girona on a few occasions which, in the end, the La Liga leaders took full advantage of.