David versus Goliath - The Rise of FC Girona to leaders of La Liga

Published on 15 November 2023 at 16:00

This season an unprecedented title-race has unfolded as Girona, a small Catalonia town on the East coast of Spain, look to disrupt La Liga’s behemoths, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

It promises to emulate the greatest shock of Premier League history when Leicester City lifted the inaugural title in 2016. The last Spanish team to de-possess the stalwarts; Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid was Valencia two decades ago, who’ve since declined into financial despair.

Girona sit after 13 games leading La Liga by two points, they are the 41st team to top the table in only their third ever season in the Spanish first division.

The newcomers made their top flight debut in 2017, but were relegated on the final day and did not return until 2019 under renowned manager Michel.

Known as Michel I of Vallecas, the 48-year-old guided the Blanquivermell to their first play-off final victory out of six in eight years.

A Rayo Vallecano legend as a player, Michel managed Girona to 10th last season where they finished just four points off of qualifying for a European place.

This is a team who only 24 years ago were playing in Spain’s fifth tier, and who currently have a wage budget of £52m compared to Real Madrid’s £727m budget.

This summer the core of their successful team was dissected as Barcelona signed midfield anchor Oriel Romeu, star striker Taty Castellanos joined Lazio and centre-back Santiago Bueno was poached by Wolves.

The league leaders spent £15m on six new signings in comparison to the chasing pack with Real Madrid splashing £122m and Barcelona £35m.

Striker Artem Dovbyk became their club record signing at £7.5m from SC Dnipro-1, the Ukrainian has 11 goal contributions this season scoring a goal every 104 minutes.

Girona are owned by Pepe Guardiola and CFG, with 44.3% part of the City Link which has seen them sign Yangel Herrera and Aleix Garcia from Manchester City and pair Yan Couto and Savio this season.

Their recruitment has been intelligent; Daley Blind was captivated by the exciting project at the club joining for free and they signed promising pair Pablo Torre and Eric Garcia on loan from Barcelona.

Girona have the highest points tally across Europe’s top five leagues this season and the most points in a Spanish top flight season after 13 games.

This form is no temporary fluke, Spanish journalists had anticipated something special was stirring at Girona who before this season’s prominence were reneowned as the set for Game of Thrones.

Their manager has been championed for his tactical acumen and man-management style where the team has a distinct attacking philosophy.

They play with an asymmetrical structure that generates overloads and abide to a man-marking defensive tactic where they play with dynamism and tactical astuteness.

No team has scored more than Girona’s 31 goals in the league this season and they are currently on a six-game winning streak in all competitions.

At the moment, it is the fairytale story of this season where a club with a stadium capacity of just 14,624 is taking their league by storm.

While they show no signs of stopping even if they do fall at the last hurdle their 10 point gap with fifth place still indicates a Champions League debut next season is a certainty.


Written by - Lewis Eadie

Twitter - @Thebeaut_game1

Instagram - @theBeaut_game1

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