I really wanted to do a piece focused on the absurd number of draws we’ve had in the league this season. I think that merits its own discussion. However, the schedule keeps rolling in fast, so we have another match tomorrow before returning to league action on Saturday. Our opponent is a familiar one, as we saw Girona out of the Copa last season and faced them in La Liga in years before that.
The big question for Girona will be how much effort they intend to place into a Copa Del Rey match. They are one point off of the promotion places in Segunda, and face second place Mallorca on Saturday. This might be a situation where we’ve caught them at the perfect time such that they can’t afford to go full strength.
This is a side that has struggled for goals all season, bagging only 17 in 22 matches. As you would expect, they are similarly stingy on the other side, giving up only 17. A big reason why their goalscoring has slowed down so much is that it seems like age may have finally caught up with Cristhian Stuani, as the 34 year old has missed 13 matches due to injury this season and sits on just 2 goals after scoring 29 in the Segunda last season.
They’ve already taken one La Liga scalp in Cadiz during the round of 32, with both goals getting scored by Valery Fernandez.
Well... this one can’t end in a draw. That at least is encouraging. One of the delicate skills of cup management is understanding how and when to ramp up the number of first choice players in your XI as you get deeper in a competition. With a slot in the quarterfinals at stake and this potentially being the last lower division side we see in this competition, I would expect Emery to start out relatively strong and then use his five subs to full effect to ice the match away. That said, I’m not gonna do too much in terms of trying to predict the actual lineup since apparently for Emery no formation is off the table anymore.
I have enough confidence in our talent and Unai Emery to predict a win here, 2-0.