2024-01-31 · 1 min read · La Liga/Soccer
Girona FC

Official Girona FC X Account (@GironaFC) | Getty Images

Fans of Spanish football will be accustomed to seeing Real Madrid and a certain Catalan club battle it out at the top of La Liga – only this season that team from northeastern Spain isn’t Barcelona.
It is Girona, playing in only its fourth top-flight season in La Liga, that has improbably become Real’s closest title challenger through January, repeatedly upsetting the odds to surge up the standings and sit top of the table.
For the majority of its history, Girona has competed in the third tier of Spanish football and below, only returning to the second division in 2008 after a 49-year absence. Girona was previously promoted to La Liga in 2017, spending only two seasons in Spain’s top flight before being relegated. This time, however, the team looks like it is here to stay.
Girona also boasts the additional benefit of not having to play European football, which could turn Real’s focus away from the league once the Champions League knockout stage begins in February, while Ancelotti’s side also had to deal with the rigors of flying to Saudi Arabia to play two Spanish Super Cup matches.
There are a multitude of factors that have contributed to Girona’s rise, but perhaps principle among them is the manager leading the team: Miguel Ángel Sánchez Muñoz, better known as Míchel.
In 2017, the City Football Group (CFG), which owns Manchester City, purchased a majority stake in Girona, which is now one of 13 clubs under the CFG umbrella. However, being owned by one of the wealthiest clubs in the world doesn’t automatically provide Girona with a bottomless pit of money and the club has continued to be “very resourceful” and “very smart” when scouting and signing players on a “small” budget. Of the current squad, only impressive young defender Yan Couto is on loan from parent club City, though Yangel Herrera, Aleix García and Eric García have also previously been on the books.
While much of Girona’s success stems from the team being more than the sum of its parts, Ukrainian forward Artem Dovbyk, who arrived from SC Dnipro-1 in the summer, has emerged as a potent goal threat with 11 goals in 18 league appearances.
Despite Girona’s historic start to the campaign, the team will be wary of a Real Madrid side that has continued to churn out wins behind La Liga’s most stingy defense, despite not playing well for large parts of the season. Regardless how the season ends, Girona has earned the right to dream of winning La Liga.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Aaron Cantin


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