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Spain: surprise leader, Girona now dreams of Europe

Surprise leader of the Spanish championship ahead of the giants of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, ​​Girona FC, bought by Barcelona. in 2017 by the City Football Group, the Emirati parent company of Manchester City, is living a dream and is now allowing itself to do so. talk about Europe.

Promoted in 2022, the small Catalan club, author of a great start, is not giving up: thanks to a favorable calendar, it is even still installed at the top of La Liga, with 31 points in 12 days -10 victories and only one cruel defeat against Real (3-0).

A victory on Saturday at Rayo Vallecano, and Girona FC will be assured of taking the lead after a third of the championship. An incredible destiny when two years ago, at the same time, Girona was 19th in the second division and fighting to maintain its position. His competitors at the time? Leganés, Amorebieta and Alcorcon.

“What is happening is not normal,” admits Gironista sports director Quique Carcel. “It's a dream period, we're all hallucinating. Today, I think we've scored more goals than Manchester City (29 goals in La Liga compared to 28 in the Premier League, Editor's note), which may seem totally unreal . And we are aware of that.”

Interviewed in September by AFP, when Girona approached the reception of Real in the shoes of the leader with 19 points in 7 days, Carcel refused to get excited, believing that maintenance remained the sole objective. Now, despite the scathing setback against the Madrilenians, Girona is aiming higher.

– Objective Top 6 –

“After the defeat against Madrid (3-0), one might have thought that the team was going to fall, but we won three consecutive matches against difficult opponents, including two against away (against Cadiz 1-0 and Osasuna 4-2, Editor's note)”, underlines Quique Carcel.

Spain: surprise leader, Girona now dreams of 'Europe' /></p>
<p>The coach of the Girona club, Michel (C), at the end of a Spanish championship match against Osasuna, on November 4, 2023 in Pamplona © AFP – Cesar MANSO </p>
<p>“Now we have to try to fight to stay between sixth and fourth place, knowing that we have 31 points and an advantage over the other teams involved in European competitions… It's not going to be easy but we're going to fight,” continues the Barcelonans.</p>
<p>This objective is shared by his coach Michel, for whom Girona still does not play in the same “league” as Real, Barça or Atlético but “dreams of competing” with the other candidates for Europe, “Real Sociedad , Villarreal, Sevilla FC or Athletic Bilbao.”</p>
<p>A medium-sized town of some 110,000 inhabitants located near the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava, halfway between Barcelona and Perpignan, Girona has yet never competed with this kind of teams.</p>
<p>But his offensive and generous football, where danger can come from anywhere, shines in a sometimes dull championship. This playing philosophy had already allowed the Catalans to finish last season in 10th place, just four points behind Osasuna, qualified for the Europa Conference League play-offs.</p>
<p>– Good picks –</p >
<p>To build on continuity, Quique Carcel recruited smartly, thanks in particular to the structure of the City Football Group and its sprawling scouting network.</p>
<p>The club, of which the City Group of Sheikh Mansour, vice-president of the United Arab Emirates, owns 47% of the shares, was able to afford the reinforcement of the Ukrainian striker Artem Dovbyk, the most expensive recruit in its history (7, 5 million euros). But also those of Venezuelan midfielder Yangel Herrera, bought for five million from ManCity, and of Brazilian winger Savio, on loan from Troyes (French L2), another member of the group.</p>
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Girona's Brazilian midfielder, Savio, after a goal scored against Almeria, in the Spanish championship, October 22, 2023 © AFP – Pau BARRENA

These players are the protagonists of this historic start to the season, with six goals and four assists for Dovbyk, three goals and four assists for Savio (19), untenable on his left side, and four goals for Herrera.

“Dovbyk has exceptional physical qualities. He is hungry and wants to be a scorer”, describes Quique Carcel. “I think he can do even better but he gives us what we were looking for with this ability to win duels up front, to take up space and be a player who weighs on defenses.”

< p>On the pitch, “the magic” works, according to him, because Michel now has “enough talents” to develop his game plan: “not to worry too much about the result, and to attack, attack to score goals “.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2023) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116