Nearby was the Royal Zaragoza to beat first division rivals Girona FC in the last friendly match of the summer before the championship. The 1-1 final, full of merits given the evolution of the game and the potential of the opponent, left a good taste in the mouth among the Zaragocists.
Compact, serious, tactically rigorous and, finally, profitable image, the one that the team gave in the first half. Carcedo’s directives were shown in full expression in an XI in which Azón was absent due to injury, that is to say more than half of the offensive capacity, but he has many characteristics of starting in Las Palmas at the start of the championship next Saturday. They protected Girona, which returns to the first division, and were sometimes better with the ball.
The Catalan team started well, who had played another match the previous night (at Palamós, winning 2–0 against Bolivia’s Bolívar La Paz in a game suspended in the 70th minute due to a power outage) and repeated only three starters. Stuani, his eternal goalscorer, nearly made it 1-0 on minute 2 after a dangerous loss to Lluís López (the Frenchman didn’t play initially) at the start from behind. The Uruguayan’s shot grazed the left post on the outside, fortunately for the Zaragoza players, who were under pressure from a prepared Girona side with a 5-3-2 formation, very much like Michael. From then on, the game went back and forth without a clear command, with the rojiblancos going less and less and with the wasps (Zaragoza continuing to dress like that) clearly improving as the clock went on. .
We had to finish the offensive gamesCrucial question indeed. But up to three-quarters, the movements were still crisp and correct. Narváez, on the point, was very alone. It was a 4-1-4-1 in attack, with Grau as coxswain, and a 4-2-3-1 in defence, with Molina delaying his position at double pivot and Eugeni becoming playmaker in the middle. On the wings, Gámez was a little better than Chavarría, although the former suffered a lot at the back with leaks from Riquelme, an impossible aspiration for Real Zaragoza this summer on the market. In one of them, at minute 34, the home striker overwhelmed the Zaragoza defender and headed for the goal. His intentional shot, wire, went widenear the left team of an almost unprecedented Cristian Álvarez.
The continuation of this first part full of traces of slate was going to be reachedwith great control of the benches on all the movements of their pieces on the excellent lawn of La Vinya, when Real Zaragoza took the lead on the scoreboard. A fantastic goal from Eugeni Valderrama. Of those who were so lacking in Zaragoza four years ago: a direct free kick from the entrance to the area that he masterfully placed in the furthest squad. A marvel at 45 who went 0-1 in the only real shot on goal executed by Carcedo’s men. It’s a way of playing that ensures 0-0 in many matches, crossing out the marks, with many tactical fouls to break after a defeat and, from there, any strategy, any error of the rival, favors the victory .
Carcedo made no changes at intermission. Yes, Míchel in Girona, one in the first half and two during the break. The Girona team was a recognizable team, with Stuani, Riquelme, Aleix García, Yangel Herrera, David López, Miguel Gutiérrez (recently arrived from Real Madrid), Arnau… The locals once again dominated, with Zaragoza lodged in little space, in this instinctive gesture that advances on the bulletin board, especially with the role of visitor. This type of game was repeated, of constant withdrawal before the push from Girona, in those moments full of impotence because the Zaragoza players positioned themselves very well. With the ball, many security passes, lateral, behind, without advancing too much but letting the second hand pass and altering the nerves of the Catalans. It’s a kind of soccer useful in times of advantage.
Riquelme continued to hit Gámez on the back and in the 55th he took a cross-shot toxic that Cristian Álvarez saved next to the crossbar in extremis, kicking the ball for a corner. The Aragonese team started to need relief, with a ball or a transition that took the block from so far. Vada tried several times, Molina tried to connect with Narvaez islet. But the precision was lacking. Bermejo also finally appeared after a dark afternoon, with some good arrivals in the space zone, concluded inaccurately. The mission for the first 20 minutes of the restart was to put Girona in irons. And they did that job well most of the time, with a special mention for the pivots, Grau and Molina.
With 23 minutes remaining, Carcedo made six one-shot changes. He gave the starters 67 in that last try. Girona came out weak in search of avoiding defeat ahead of their return to the First Division at Valencia. It was time to grit our teeth to hold it 0-1, perhaps an important simulation of what can happen with points on the line right away. But shortly after the change in the team structure, the 1-1 came in a classic pre-season error, to be taken into account now. Defeat in midfield with the team open at the back, the rival’s pass into space and, in this case, Riquelme (as in Marbella it was the Argentinian Guanca, from Al Shabab) who remains alone hand in hand against the keeper and beat him without a problem. Cristian Álvarez hesitated to leave and the decision was fatal. The tie came in 73deserved on the other hand by the Catalans.
Carcedo left Larrazabal and Petrovic for final changes, perhaps a decision that admits a double reading, since both continue on the exit ramp if a correct destination is found. At minute 77, with Zaragoza in turmoil from so many sudden piece mutations, Jair saved a goal under the sticks, with a header, after a headed shot from Stuani crept in. It was already 1-1. He didn’t yearn for anything else either., because the Aragonese team did not go beyond the midfield with danger for long periods. In the 81st minute, Cristian Álvarez avoided defeat again, with a popcorn over the crossbar thanks to a powerful header from David López from a side free kick. Zaragoza suffered a lot in defense, another old problem to be solved. And that’s no small feat.
The match ended with some late attacks from Zaragoza, as a demonstration that, if they haven’t stepped on the rival zone before, it may be because they played this. Puche made it 1-2 in the 87th minute with a powerful shot from the edge of the box which goalkeeper Matas fired for a corner with fingertips. And in the next action, Mollejo entered the area alone and concluded with a high and uncontrolled right hand. The aftershock, in 90, could be fatalwhile Pau Víctor ended up throwing a free ball against Cristian Álvarez, after a doubt between the central defenders. Pre-season is over with the referee’s final whistle and Zaragoza Palace aren’t bad after what we’ve seenGenerally speaking, the squad is yet to be defined, both in a good number of departures and in the three or four expected signings that are yet to come.
FC Girona: You kill; Arnau Martínez, Bueno, Terrats (Roca, 46), Farrés, Miguel Gutiérrez (Almansa, 46); David López, Aleix García, Yangel Herrera (Pau Victor, 27); Riquelme and Stuani.
Royal Zaragoza: Christian Alvarez; Gámez (Larrazabal, 75), Lluís López (French, 67), Jair, Chavarría (Nieto, 67); Grau; Bermejo (Mollejo, 67), Molina (Petrovic, 75), Eugeni (Francho, 67), Vada (Puche, 67); and Narvaez (Simeone, 67).
Arbitrator: Morros Monje (Catalan). He reprimanded Gámez (35) and Stuani (65).
Goals: 0-1, min. 45: Eugene. 1-1 mins. 73: Riquelme.
incidents: Stormy afternoon, with rain and lightning an hour before the match, which started at 7:00 p.m. The temperature was pleasant, 25 degrees. It was played on the pitch of La Vinya, training ground of Girona FC, behind closed doors. The lawn was in excellent condition. Real Zaragoza has once again disguised itself as a wasp. Raúl Sanllehí and Miguel Torrecilla watched the clash in the dressing room.