After drubbing Indian Super League (ISL) Kerala Blasters 6-0 in the opening match, A-League side Melbourne City FC will lock horns with La Liga side Girona FC in the second match of the Toyota Yaris LaLiga World tournament being held in Kochi, Kerala.
Here we take a look at how the two teams, Melbourne City and Girona, could line up today:
Melbourne City FC
Buoyed by their big win over Kerala Blasters, the City Blues will look to end their pre-season campaign on a positive note before they head back home. However, in Girona, they face a much sterner test and manager Warren Joyce will be aware of that.
Joyce usually employs a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the central-midfield pair of Luke Brattan and Riley McGree, who scored a brace on Tuesday, holding the key to everything the team create. We might not see too many changes from the XI that took the field against Kerala Blasters.
Dean Bouzanis should start in between the sticks with captain Scott Jamieson headlining the defence. In attack, we might see Ramy Najjarine, who impressed after coming on as a substitute the other day, from the start. Michael O'Halloran should retain his spot as the sole striker.
Melbourne City FC Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Dean Bouzanis; Nathaniel Atkinson, Bart Schenkeveld, Osama Malik, Scott Jamieson (c); Luke Brattan, Riley McGree; Ramy Najjarine, Anthony Caceres, Lachlan Wales; Michael O'Halloran
Girona are no La Liga heavyweights but there is no doubt that they are the strongest team, at least on paper, in this tournament.
A team that is capable of holding Antoine Griezmann's Atletico Madrid to not one but two draws and beating European champions Real Madrid demands some respect. Also, finishing 10th in your very first season in the top-flight is a quite commendable job.
Although Pablo Maffeo, the right-back who was a regular last season, left for VfB Stuttgart, the club has not been dealt with too many outgoing transfers. Instead, they have been bolstered by the addition of Johan Mojica and Marc Muniesa -- the latter penned a permanent deal after spending the last season at the club on loan from Stoke City.
Against Melbourne, it won't be a surprise if manager Eusebio Sacristán decides to field all his first-team stars. Indeed, they are without new-signing Mojica and previous season's top-scorer Christhian Stuani, who is enjoying an extended break after making it to the World Cup quarters with Uruguay, but they have more than able replacements in their ranks.
Sacristán likes to play a 4-3-3 formation but at Girona, 3-4-3 is the more used one. Marc Muniesa is expected to lead the defence with Bono guarding the goal. Captain Aleix Garcia, of course, will start in the midfield with either Pere Pons or Alex Granell for company while in attack, Portu and Borja García should accompany Anthony Lozano.
Girona FC Predicted XI (3-4-3): Bono; Bernardo Espinosa, Ramalho, Marc Muniesa; Aday Benitez, Aleix Garcia (c), Pere Pons, Carles Planas; Portu, Borja García, Anthony Lozano
Girona FC 2-1 Melbourne City FC
Girona are clearly the stronger team but with both teams in pre-season mode, a tight encounter is expected. Melbourne's players will have to put in a shift to earn anything more than a draw, but a narrow win for the LaLiga side is what we are predicting.Published 27 Jul 2018, 13:02 IST