Preview: Girona-Madrid

Real Madrid face Girona for the first time on Sunday, but the occasion has been overshadowed by the political climate in Catalonia.

Catalonia’s declaration of independence on Friday resulted in the Spanish state implementing direct rule on the region, prompting fears of a tense atmosphere at Montilivi.

Consequently, there will be a significant police presence at the stadium, similar to Barcelona’s match against Las Palmas behind closed doors at the start of the month.

However, Girona boss Pablo Machin insisted there was nothing to worry about, preferring to focus on the ‘celebratory’ aspect of the encounter.

“There’s no reason for all this alarm,” he said at a Press conference.

“I’ve been here for three-and-a-half years, I haven’t felt the need to comment on anything. The fans have been super respectful and civil, with desire of watching Primera football.

“For us, it’s a celebration that one of the best teams in the world are coming here.

“We must use this moment to recognise how far we’ve come. It’s bad for me to talk about other things.”

Madrid are once more without Dani Carvajal, Mateo Kovacic, Keylor Navas and Gareth Bale, but the latter duo could be back for the trip to Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, when Los Blancos take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League.

Youngsters Jesus Vallejo and Borja Mayoral have also been dropped after their quiet performances against Fuenlabrada in the Copa del Rey, which culminated in the former being sent off.

Girona, meanwhile, ended a run of six games without a win last weekend, when they beat Deportivo La Coruna 2-1 to move three points clear of La Liga’s relegation places.

The Catalans have only defender Pedro Alcala missing, but Manchester City loanee Douglas Luiz is likely to be sacrificed for a more defensive approach.

Girona (probable): Bono; Maffeo, Juanpe, Bernardo, Ramalho, Aday; Portu, Aleix Garcia, Pons, Borja Garcia; Stuani

Injuries/suspensions: Alcala (I)

Real Madrid (probable): Casilla; Achraf, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Isco; Ronaldo, Benzema

Injuries/suspensions: Luca, Keylor, Bale, Carvajal, Kovacic (I)

Referee: Hernandez Hernandez

Form guide: Girona – 15th (W L D L D) Madrid – 3rd (W W W W L)

Venue: Montilivi

Kick-off time: 15:15 GMT/16:15 local time

La Liga - Club News