Why Barcelona should be wary of Girona in first-of-its-kind Catalan derby

Barcelona travel to Girona on Saturday in what will be the first episode of a different Catalan derby in La Liga and, hopefully, the first of many to come in the future. The Blaugranas, having won a perfect 15 out of a possible 15 points in the domestic league so far, are clear favourites to walk away with another victory under their belts -- although the extra motivation boost that Girona are certain to get from their passionate home fans in this historical occasion is certainly not to be underestimated.

Ernesto Valverde, who has lead Barcelona a remarkable start in his first season in charge, could very well continue with the controlled rotation policy he started implementing in the 6-1 thrashing of Eibar at the Camp Nou in midweek. With that in mind, El Txingurri has decided to leave both in-form Nelson Semedo and Gerard Deulofeu out of his squad.

Here is the full match squad for the trip to Girona:

Marc-André Ter Stegen and Jasper Cillessen; Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Lucas Digne, Aleix Vidal, and Samuel Umtiti; Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Denis Suárez, Andrés Iniesta, Paulinho, Sergi Roberto, and André Gomes; Luis Suárez, Leo Messi and Paco Alcácer.

Personally, I believe the starting lineup should be Ter Stegen; Vidal, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Paulinho, Sergi Roberto; Suarez, Messi and Denis Suarez.

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In the press conference prior to the game, Valverde was his usual cautious, respectful self again:

“We have to be careful with the festive air that surrounds this derby. Girona will be looking to enjoy the game and at the same time give everything so we will have to be on our toes. It’s a game that they have marked in red on the fixture list, just like we have. They enjoying playing in the first division and they want to stay there. We are in a good situation and we hope to extend it as best we can.”

"Messi? He’s an exceptional player and we have the great fortune to be able to watch him and enjoy the things he does because no one would imagine that a player could do all that."

We discussed the trip to Girona, Messi's superb form of late, Benedito's vote of no confidence and the Catalan referendum in the latest episode of The Barcelona Podcast. Honestly, it's our best episode yet. Promise. Hit Play and enjoy!