Sports Mole previews Saturday’s friendly between Manchester City and Girona, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
Manchester City begin their preparations for a return to Premier League action when they take on City Football Group sides Girona at the Academy Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Citizens have not taken the field since losing 2-1 to Brentford last month, while their Spanish counterparts drew 1-1 with Osasuna on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola will be forced to watch his former pupil celebrate Christmas Day at the top of the Premier League table as the reigning champions continue to play catch-up. Mikel ArtetaArsenal in the race for the 2022-23 top-flight crown.
A shock 2-1 defeat to Brentford just before the World Cup break saw Man City drop five points behind the Gunners at the top of the table, although they had to face the north London outfit earlier this season before the death of Queen Elizabeth II caused a major calendar change.
Before resuming their quest for a third consecutive Premier League title against Leeds United on Christmas Day, Guardiola’s side face old foes Liverpool in the fourth round of the EFL Cup on next Thursday, and two games with Chelsea in the league and the FA. The Cup is far from a welcoming way to enter 2023.
However, what has been welcomed by Man City fans is the news that Guardiola has signed a new contract at the Etihad until the summer of 2025, although the Brazilian is reportedly ready to test the determination of the English champions as they search unclesuccessor of
For now, though, Guardiola will test his first-team regulars and academy graduates on an equal footing as his side prepare for their only winter friendly of the year, but while a field of training in Abu Dhabi was on City’s menu, Girona has worked to the maximum during the World Cup period.
Closing the first half of the season with three consecutive victories in his action was the perfect tonic for a Girona that did not have an ideal start to avoid immediate relegation from the League.
Only two of the visitors’ first 14 games of the 2022-23 La Liga season ended in victory, but successive 2-1 victories over Athletic Bilbao and Elche just before the World Cup break allowed MichelThe team from ‘s climbs to 13th place in the table, five points ahead of Sevilla in the relegation zone.
Girona also claimed victory by the same scoreline at Quintanar del Rei in the Copa del Rey and drew 1-1 against Real Madrid on a five-match unbeaten run, taking that form into their winter friendlies .
After beating Standard Liege 1-0, Girona held Osasuna to a 1-1 draw in midweek. Alex Garcia annulled Lucas Torrothe first match, extending his unbeaten run in competitive and non-competitive matches to an impressive seven matches.
A remarkable run of 14 goals in a row will also serve Girona well against a weak Man City, but the 1-0 success against Standard Liege also represents their only clean sheet in 18 games in all competitions, and a rest well rested Erling Braut Haaland he can be sure to punish these frailties.
Manchester City Friendly Form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
Form Girona (all competitions):
Man City striker Julian Alvarez he is preparing to start for Argentina at the World Cup finals and therefore remains absent here, while many other Qatar 2022 representatives have yet to return to training with Guardiola’s men.
English quintet Phil Foot, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Jack Grealish i Calvin Phillips all take more time after their exit from the quarter-finals, while Ederson, Nathan Ake, Bernard Silva, Joao Cancelo i Ruben Dias he also suffered heartbreak in the round of 16.
Manuel Akanji, Aymeric Laporte i Rodri all were ruled out earlier and could therefore return to training sooner alongside Erling Braut Haaland and Kevin De Bruynethat both should play a role in this.
Riyad Mahrez he can also expect to line up for Ciutadans, and Guardiola should also work with a lot of youngsters like this Cole Palmer, Liam Smith i Carlos Borges.
City’s treatment room is empty at the moment, but the same cannot be said for Girona, which is Juanpe Ramirez i Ibrahima Kebe long term with heel and knee injuries respectively.
Borja GarciaThe crossed tear will also take a little longer to heal, while David Lopez, Valery Fernandez, Javi Hernandez i Rodrigo Riquelme could complete a list of seven absentees for the Spanish side.
Two transferred from the city Yangel Herrera i Yan Couto could face his main club, although the former must also shake off a fitness concern on the side cleanerwho is enjoying a temporary stay at the Real Madrid club.
Manchester City possible starting line-up:
Carson; Lewis, Burns, Catholic, Gomez; Palmer, Robertson, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Haaland, Borges
Girona possible initial lineup:
Gazzaniga; Couto, A. Martinez, Bueno, Gutierrez; Terrats, Romeo, Garcia; Martin, Stuani, Vallejo
We say: Manchester City 3-1 Girona
While Man City are far from at full strength as they await the return of their World Cup contingent, Girona’s plethora of injury concerns spell trouble for Michel and his leaky defence.
The Spaniards appear to have no problem finding the back of the net, but the display of De Bruyne and Haaland should take center stage as a revitalized Man City side cruise to victory.
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Our expert reporting partners at Sporita.com predict over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more tried and tested football tips.More than 1.5: data
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