Girona’s Castellanos makes history against Real Madrid as Man City, Holland await in Champions League

Girona's Castellanos makes history against Real Madrid as Man City, Holland await in Champions League

The Citigroup forward scored four goals against Real Madrid, a humble night for the European champions that tore through their defence. But this isn’t Erling Haaland in the Champions League semi-finals. At least, not yet.

This is Valentin ‘Teti’ Castellanos, on loan at Girona from New York City FC, after what he called “a dream night”, a historic 4-2 LaLiga win that set off alarm bells with their biggest games of the season at Madrid. Just days away.

A league defeat meant nothing to Madrid at this stage — they started 11 points behind leaders Barcelona at Girona’s Montilvi Stadium, who had clinched the title two days earlier by beating Atlético Madrid — but the manner of the defeat was a shock to the system.

Players do not score four goals in one game against Real Madrid. The last to do so was Robert Lewandowski – now a Barca player – in a 4-1 Champions League semi-final win for Borussia Dortmund in April 2013. In La Liga, you have to go back to December 1947 and Esteban. Echevarría, who scored five in a 7-1 rout for Real Oviedo.

Castellanos, 24, is a gifted player who won the MLS Golden Boot in 2021 and scored seven LaLiga goals before Tuesday’s game. But it surprised you. If that Can do this for Girona… What can Haaland do when Manchester City visit the Bernabeu on May 9?

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An experienced, usually solid Madrid defense — the team had kept six clean sheets in their previous seven games in all competitions — was outplayed again and again by a quick-thinking line-up of Eder Militão, Antonio Rudiger, Dani Carvajal and Nacho Fernandez. , a technically sound Girona team.

For all of Castellanos’ accomplishments with NYCFC, this must rank as the best night of his career thus far. His task at Girona was difficult, competing for a place with veteran club legend Cristian Stuani, 36. There is no doubt who is now their first-choice centre-forward.

Castellano got a header from Miguel Gutierrez’s cross in the 12th minute. The second, midway through the first half, was better, running onto a ball over the top and holding off a half-hearted challenge from Militao before slotting past back-up goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

His third, just after half-time, was a straightforward finish, gifted plenty of space inside the box to convert first time, while his fourth – an hour later – was another header, ghosted past a stationary Militao.

It was an embarrassing night for the Brazilian defender, hailed as “the best in the world” by Celta Vigo coach Carlos Carvalhal, while the player himself said last week that he was “on the way” to that status. When Militao is good, he is very good. When he loses his focus, this happens.

He was not the only culprit. Full-backs Carvajal and Nacho were tormented by Girona’s wingers and full-backs. Yann Couto, in particular, gave Nacho such a hard time that the defender was substituted after just 52 minutes, replaced by a completely unfit Eduardo Camavinga.

The only bright spot for Madrid was Vinicius Junior, who made it 2-1 – before a late second for Lucas Vazquez. Vinicius is now horribly consistent in delivering the end product, as well as frequent, unnecessary fights with opposing defenders. This was the seventh consecutive game in which he has contributed a goal, assist or both.

Madrid now have two league matches, at home to Almeria and away at Real Sociedad, before the Copa del Rey final against Osasuna on May 6. Which will be played three days later against Pep Guardiola’s City in the first leg.

So far, the team has done a good job of continuing their league form despite the lack of a title race, with wins over Real Valladolid, Cadiz and Celta Vigo this month — and the loss to Villarreal looked like confidence and fitness levels ahead of the challenges that really matter. .

till now. Coach Carlo Ancelotti called the performance and result “incredible”. He’s a master of squad management — as well as an underrated tactician — and will need all his experience to ensure this can be dismissed as another odd result in a game with nothing on the line.

City, Guardiola and Haaland are waiting.

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