Girona during a recent match. EFE
The Spanish club rocking La Liga
A look at La Liga

The Spanish club rocking La Liga

Just like Manchester City, Girona are a delight to watch

Rob Palmer


Friday, 17 November 2023, 14:18


Some would say that Girona’s association with Manchester City is the reason for the unexpected success, but I say “moneyball” is the key rather than the influence of “moneybags”. This is a club that’s emulating Leicester City rather than Manchester City.

The ancient city from Catalonia continues to mirror the achievements of the team from the English Midlands back in 2017. After 13 rounds, La Liga has the most unexpected leader and experts are asking whether the Gironistes can follow the Foxes by disrupting the big club stranglehold.

Week after week, they add another page to the fairytale. It’s now 11 wins in 13 matches - and, as leading scorers, they are winning in style.

It is well-documented that Girona is part of the Abu Dhabi-owned City Football Group and that Pere Guardiola, brother of Pep, is pulling the strings. The assumption is that money is the reason for success. But that would be the wrong assumption - it is down to team togetherness and magical management.

Only two players are loaned from other outlets in the City Group: Yann Couto from Manchester and Savio from Troyes. The secret is the scouting and coaching.

Michel is the popular coach who never dined at the fine tables like Pep Guardiola. He’s moulded a team of home-grown and promising players with some cast-offs. Eric García, unwanted at Barcelona and Dutchman Daley Blind, whose best years appeared behind him provide the leadership.

I doubt that any player in the Girona set-up will ever be considered talented enough to move to the Manchester branch of the group. They’re not splashing the cash. Artem Dòvbik became the record-signing for a modest €7m in the summer. The Ukrainian international is 26 and isn’t in the same category as Erling Haaland.

The key factor with the City Group is the sharing of intelligence. I’d imagine that when a scout sees a player who isn’t quite good enough for Pep Guardiola, he calls Pere Guardiola.

The other comparison is playing style. Just like Manchester City, Girona are a delight to watch. The football is adventurous; they play out from the back and they have a desire to win. They’ve scored more goals from crosses and a quick survey of the videos shows the goals resemble City’s – short crosses to the edge of the six-yard box for someone to finish.

There are good reasons to suggest they can’t keep up the cavalier form. In the next few weeks, they play the top teams of Barcelona, Atlético, Real Betis, and Sevilla. The only defeat so far was when they played Real Madrid. The hypothesis is that they’ve had it relatively easy.

Girona have the advantage of no midweek European distractions; also, few of their players are called for international duty. This allows more recuperation and preparation time for Michel the manager.

Word is getting around Europe about the club who are rocking La Liga. Unlike Leicester, they don’t have a top-league pedigree. This is only the fourth season in the Primera División. The English club do give them a blueprint and they can only dream. Who knows? Girona may be forever twinned with the City of Leicester… They are living the same dream.

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