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Girona and Rayo Vallecano preview : A tale of two teams

Girona’s title hopes have taken a big hit in the last two weeks, with seven goals conceded in defeats to Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao leaving them six points off the top. Head coach Míchel seems to have admitted that the gap is unbridgeable, saying this week that Girona will “fight for the Champions League”.

The hosts start the day seven points ahead of fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao and will be looking to maintain that gap at home, where they are unbeaten in eight league games (6w, 2d). Having beaten Rayo Vallecano twice this season in both competitions, Girona can be confident of extending their winning streak to three.

However, Girona will need their attack to fire if they are to get back on track, as their defense has failed to keep a clean sheet in the last eight meetings between the two teams, a run of games that has produced three wins and two draws.

The situation is very different for Rayo Vallecano. Without a win since beating Huesca in the cup at the start of January (2d, 5l), Rayo go into this match four places and eight points above the relegation zone. The visitors will know what is required of them on Monday, as it is the last game of the weekend, but taking points now could save them having to look over their shoulders later.

The visitors have drawn their last two away games, at Atlético and Mallorca, but lost both 2-1. Unfortunately, Rayo are not in the habit of coming back from adversity, as evidenced by the fact that they have only taken two points from games in which they have conceded the first goal in La Liga this season (2d, 9l).

Players to watch: Artem Dovbyk scored his first La Liga hat-trick in the space of six minutes against Sevilla. Álvaro García has found the net in each of his last two away games, meaning he has been on the losing side in each of his last three appearances as a goalscorer, the first of which came against Girona.

Hot stat: Rayo have avoided defeat in four of their last five La Liga away games played on a Monday (3w, 1d, 1l), and four of those have produced under 2.5 goals.

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