Preview: Almeria vs. Girona

Two newly-promoted sides face off in LaLiga on Thursday, as Almeria welcome Girona to the Power Horse Stadium with just one point separating the two teams.

The hosts were swept aside by Real Betis last weekend, but will be looking to bounce back on home soil against a visiting side who are winless in four.

Match preview

Real Betis manager Rubi pictured in November 2019

Alarm bells were ringing in Almeria earlier this month, as a 4-0 defeat to Athletic Club made it four losses in a row since the departure of star striker Umar Sadiq, without a goal being scored in that miserable run.

However, a 3-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano two weeks ago, inspired by the impressive Adrian Embarba, eased fears that the loss of their prolific Nigerian striker would be a fatal blow to their survival campaign.

While Rubi’s men were comprehensively beaten by his former club Real Betis on the weekend, the 3-1 defeat offered further attacking encouragement, as they registered their highest expected goals figure since a 2-1 win over Sevilla in August.

Sadiq’s replacement, El Bilal Toure, grabbed his second goal in as many games for the Andalusian club, while Gonzalo Melero registered his second consecutive assist, causing problems for a Betis side who had only conceded one goal at the Benito Villamarin before Almeria’s visit.

Returning home to face a more beatable side here, Los Rojiblancos will be confident of a second consecutive home win, to put further distance between themselves and the bottom three.

Cristhian Stuani pictured in September 2018

Girona, on the other hand, have been struggling to turn positive attacking performances into wins recently, with three defeats and a draw in their last four games seeing them slowly slip down the table.

After a tough run of games against Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid, an encounter with Cadiz looked to be a great opportunity to get back on the winning trail.

A 1-1 draw with their relegation-threatened opponents, however, only secured with a 102nd-minute penalty from Cristhian Stuani, felt slightly underwhelming after previously promising attacking signs.

Yet to win a game away from home this season, a trip to a fellow promoted side represents an opportunity for the Catalan side to break an increasingly concerning habit.

Team News

Huesca boss Michel pictured while in charge of Rayo Vallecano in March 2019

The hosts will be without several defensive options, with Juanjo Nieto, Alex Centelles and Chumi all ruled out once again.

Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco is yet to play for his new side, despite being one of the most consistent keepers in LaLiga throughout his time with Deportivo Alaves. The shot-stopper could be given his first opportunity here, while Alejandro Pozo could take the place of Houboulang Mendes at right-back.

The dangerous Embarba returns from suspension and will be a key source of creativity in the attacking third, having registered two assists last time out.

For the visitors, long-term absentees Reinier and David Lopez will miss out again with thigh and Achilles injuries respectively.

Aleix Garcia will continue in the midfield after a string of excellent performances, while Stuani will be pushing for a start after his impact off the bench against Cadiz.

Almeria possible starting lineup:
Pacheco; Akieme, Babic, Ely, Pozo; De la Hoz, Melero; Ramazani, Robertone, Embarba; Toure

Girona possible starting lineup:
Juan Carlos; Gutierrez, Juanpe, Espinosa, Bueno, Arnau; Garcia, Romeu, Herrera; Stuani, Castellanos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *