• Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Girona FC: The underdogs at the top of La Liga

ByKitty Moreno

Nov 24, 2023
Girona Flag

When you hear ‘La Liga’, the first clubs that come to mind are probably Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid—those eminent teams with illustrious histories, cabinets full of trophies, and big-name signings. A club that, perhaps, doesn’t spring to mind quite as easily is Girona FC. A little club out in Catalonia with a stadium whose capacity falls just under 15,000, they’re only playing their fourth-ever season in Spain’s first division. Yet at the time of writing, they claim the first-place position in La Liga. So who are Girona, and how did they surpass the Spanish giants to rise to the top of the league?

Girona has been a relatively unsuccessful club and certainly doesn’t enjoy the household-name status of other La Liga teams. After spending most of their 93-year history bouncing between Spain’s second, third, and fourth division leagues, they were promoted to La Liga after the 2021/22 season playoffs and exceeded expectations last season to wind up in 10th place. But in the 2023–24 season, they’re not slipping under the radar. Girona is here to compete.

So what is this little club’s secret to success? Maybe it’s manager Míchel, the former Rayo Vallecano player who took over in July 2021 and triumphantly led them to promotion just under a year later. Speaking to the Independent, Girona’s Daley Blind described the coach’s ‘connection with every player’ as ‘very special’, and the chemistry seems to be paying off. Critics have attributed Girona’s recent success to their highly attacking style of play, refusing to withdraw from the defensive tactics we might expect, and consequently, they lead La Liga’s goal tally this season. They may lack the big names that Barcelona and Real Madrid boast and have lost many of their most-prized players, like Oriol Romeu and Taty Castellanos, over the summer, but Girona are making do just fine. 19-year-old Brazilian forward Savinho and Ukraine’s Artem Dovybk are just two of the players winning praise in Girona’s remarkable run, and they don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.

It’s worth noting that Girona are part of the City Football Group, the major conglomerate with Manchester City and New York City FC to their name, and strengthening the connection is Pere Guardiola (yes, brother of Pep) as Girona’s executive president. But undeniably, Girona are the dark horses of La Liga, and no one could have anticipated the display they’re putting on.

Realistically, and as so many critics keenly note, the vision of Girona claiming their first-ever La Liga trophy is probably little more than a pipe dream. Up against bigwigs Madrid with star boy Jude Bellingham or title-defenders Barcelona, the chances of this little club becoming title holders and catapulting to the Champions League seem far-fetched. But, like Leicester’s shock Premier League triumph in 2015/16, anything is possible. Only time will tell who comes out on top, but for now, Girona leads the way.

Carrer dels Calderers, Girona – flag – Girona FC” by ell brown is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.