Real Madrid fell to a sixth defeat of the LaLiga season in Catalonia as they were beaten 4-2 by Girona at Montilivi on Tuesday in a disastrous night for Los Blancos which could allow Barcelona to move 14 points clear should they beat Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday.
Taty Castellanos scored an early brace before Vinícius Júnior pulled one back, though another double from the Argentinian forward made it four with Lucas Vázquez pulling one back late on.
These three stats help to tell the story of the game.
25: Attempted dribbles by Vinícius, of which 8 were completed
If one man was the star of the show for Real Madrid on Tuesday evening, it was Vinícius Júnior. The Brazilian seemed to be at the centre of everything and took it upon himself to lead in every sense in the attacking three with Karim Benzema absent and Rodrygo Goes shifting into a central role with Marco Asensio on the right.
As highlighted by Opta below, he attempted 25 dribbles, a record high since their data collection began in 2005 for a single player in a game, which broke his own record of 22 against Real Sociedad only three months ago.
Despite that, what may initially seem impressive, stat, he completed only eight of those dribbles. With 18 lost duels, he lost more duels than almost any other player on the pitch even attempted. The only other player involved to even attempt 18 duels was Arnau Martínez, the man tasked with stopping the Brazilian, who registered a total of 30 duels.
25 - Vinícius Júnior attempted 25 dribbles in this game against Girona (8 completed), the most by a player in a LaLiga game since at least 2005/06, surpassing the previous record also achieved by him (22/9 vs Real Sociedad in January 2023). Brave. pic.twitter.com/FMhhkNxrI9— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 25, 2023
With a goal and an assist, it’s hard to criticise Vinícius and he clearly made an impact and had a strong influence on Real Madrid’s offensive game. There can be no questioning that. But the wisdom in becoming quite such a protagonist in the team’s play to quite such an extent could be called into question.
A dribble success rate of 32% is way below his season average of 46.7% and began to seem a little bit like a broken record. Girona found it easy to predict what Real Madrid would do in possession, as 67% of their total xG came from moves which came down the left flank.
Vinícius was finding ways through, but as the game wore on it became more predictable. In the first half, the left flank which Vini was dominating created 76% of xG, but that dropped to just 30% of the total for the second half as Girona adapted to his game.
1.12: Goals conceded per 90 for Andriy Lunin
By conceding four goals against Girona, Andriy Lunin’s total number of goals conceded for Real Madrid has overtaken his total number of appearances with 19 conceded in 17 appearance.
In comparison, the same figure is 0.93 for Thibaut Courtois, while also competing at a higher level than Lunin, who has had almost a quarter of his game time in the Copa del Rey against lower-level opposition. For a more direct comparison, using only matches for Real Madrid in LaLiga, Lunin’s figures sit at 1 goal conceded per 90, with Courtois recording 0.83 goals conceded per 90.
Lunin recorded one save and conceded four at Montilivi having been thrown into the team at short notice after Courtois fell ill on the morning of the game. However, it must also be pointed out that the 13 shots attempted by Girona was a higher number than in any of Real Madrid’s previous four matches and he was not afforded the protection usually on display from a Real Madrid defence.
This was an unusual game in many respects. Taty Castellanos became the first man since Real Oviedo’s Esteban Echevarría in December 1947 to score four against Los Blancos in a single game, and only the sixth in history. His four goals came in at 1.16 expected goals for shots on target, taking into account the placement of his attempts on goal. Other goalscorers in LaLiga may wish that they’d come up against Lunin instead of Courtois too.
1.17: Points per game against Girona in LaLiga, the worst against any current rival
There was a feeling almost of inevitability for Real Madrid to fall to defeat against Girona, particularly in Catalonia. That’s because they have become a real bogey team for the reigning LaLiga champions, who have won only two, drawn one and lost three of the six meetings between the clubs in LaLiga.
It’s an unusual trend which means that Real Madrid have registered fewer points per game against Girona than against any other team in LaLiga. Despite the fact that this is only Girona’s third top-flight campaign and they have never finished higher than the 10th position that they recorded in 2017/18, they prove problematic for Real Madrid.
Following the 1-1 draw in October which saw Toni Kroos sent off in injury time, and a 2-1 defeat in February 2019 where Cristhian Stuani and Portu’s goals overturned a Casemiro opener, this is now three matches in a row without a win over Girona. Before that, Real Madrid won both legs of a two-legged Copa del Rey meeting, and recorded two big wins in 4-1 and 6-3 victories in LaLiga in 2018. That came after the first meeting between the two teams ended in a 2-1 win for the hosts at Montilivi.
This one arguably mattered the least given the relative unimportance of the clash with Carlo Ancelotti seemingly having surrendered any hope of a LaLiga title charge on Barcelona and instead focusing his efforts on rotating his squad ahead of the Copa del Rey final and Champions League semi-finals.