Real Madrid vs Girona predictions
Real Madrid and Girona meet on Saturday evening at the Bernabeu in a game that could decide the LaLiga title (5.30pm, ITV4).
Los Blancos hold a narrow lead at the top of the table over Girona, who have stunned Spanish football by making a charge for the LaLiga crown.
Michel’s side finished 10th on their return to LaLiga last season, but have taken their performances to the next level in a bid to win their first league title.
They’re two points behind Madrid and carry a 16-match unbeaten run going into the fixture at the Bernabeu after playing out a goalless draw against Real Sociedad last week.
Having already beaten Barcelona on the road this season, Girona know what it takes to win against an established side in a game with huge consequences.
But, experience is on Madrid’s side and Carlo Ancelotti’s men also have a formidable record in LaLiga.
Los Blancos are unbeaten in 17, although their hopes of extending their lead at the top of the table were dashed by Marcos Llorente’s late equaliser in the Madrid derby last time out.
Madrid are strong favourites with football betting sites, but Girona have relished their underdog status all season. Here are our predictions for the top-of-the-table showdown.
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Will there be a winner at the Bernabeu?
Madrid could have taken a four-point lead in the title race had they held on against Atletico last time out.
Brahim Diaz’s strike put them ahead in the first half and given their stoic defensive record this season Ancelotti would have been bullish about holding out. But, Llorente headed home in stoppage time to deny the hosts a vital victory.
Girona’s resilience was on display against Sociedad as they kept their unbeaten run going without being at their best in the final third. Michel’s side have lost just once in LaLiga this term, albeit against Madrid in the reverse fixture at home.
But, the visitors could still be a tough nut to crack for a Madrid side that has little margin for error.
Without Karim Benzema, Madrid have been reliant on Jude Bellingham in front of goal. The England international has been outstanding, but he was not brought to the Bernabeu to be a straight replacement for the Frenchman.
It has shown in recent weeks as Ancelotti’s men edged past Mallorca before needing to rally from deficits against Almeria at home and Las Palmas on the road. Madrid arguably should have killed off the game in the draw with Atletico.
After watching Madrid’s recent matches, Girona may alter their attacking approach and they have been stoic in their last two away games with back-to-back clean sheets.
Although Michel faces a touchline ban, and the visitors will be without Daley Blind and Yangel Herrera due to suspension, they will not back down from the challenge.
There’s enough to believe that these sides will cancel one another out at the Bernabeu at odds of 4/1 with William Hill.
Real Madrid vs Girona Tip 1: Draw – 4/1 William Hill
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Bellingham to break out of slump
Bellingham hit the ground running for Madrid following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. The England international scored 10 in his first 11 LaLiga appearances.
For a player that was not overly prolific in front of goal in the Bundesliga, Bellingham displayed his class and predatory instincts in the box.
The 20-year-old was his side’s saving grace in the final third as they adjusted to life without Benzema following his exit last summer.
But, Bellingham’s form has cooled off recently. He has still come up with important goals, notably starting the comeback from the penalty spot in the win over Almeria.
Since Madrid returned to action from their winter break, Bellingham has scored one in his last eight in all competitions.
It’s not a concern yet for Ancelotti as other players have come forward to ease the burden on Bellingham, but with injuries mounting, the 20-year-old will want to be at the forefront of his side’s attacking play.
Bellingham thrives under the spotlight, so after looking at betting apps, we’re backing him to score any time at odds of 37/20 with BetMGM.
Real Madrid vs Girona Tip 2: Jude Bellingham to score any time – 37/20 BetMGM
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Don’t expect cards in the Bernabeu
Although this will be a tense clash at the top of LaLiga, both sides boast excellent disciplinary records this season.
Madrid have collected 42 yellow cards, while Girona are slightly ahead with 46. But, Michel’s side have seen only one player dismissed compared to Los Blancos’ two.
Girona will have been extremely disappointed to see Herrera and Blind pick up bookings in the dying stages of their clash with Sociedad that has ruled them out of action.
Only four players in LaLiga have committed more fouls than Herrera this season, so he was due to miss a game at some point. It also takes out a potential player to be booked at the Bernabeu.
Referee Juan Martinez has been assigned the contest and has averaged 4.09 yellow cards per game in his 11 LaLiga contests this season. The game could be more tactical than end-to-end, despite Girona’s exploits in the final third.
We’re taking the under on 4.5 cards at 21/20 with 10Bet with our final prediction.
Real Madrid vs Girona Tip 3: Under 4.5 cards – 21/20 10Bet
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Simon Sinclair is an experienced sports journalist, who has written for national publications for football, cricket, NFL and many more. He contributes tips on a wide range of sports for The Independent.