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Girona may not win LaLiga but European dream is a reality
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Dan Fitch
Girona are top of LaLiga going into Matchday 13
Girona are top of LaLiga going into Matchday 13

Girona are threatening to replicate Leicester's miracle Premier League title win in 2015-16.

The Catalan minnows are currently top of LaLiga after 12 rounds of fixtures, ahead of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

A club that had never graced the Spanish top flight until 2017 is currently outperforming some of the biggest sides in the world.

Ahead of Girona's trip to Rayo Vallecano tomorrow, we take a look at the secrets behind their success. 

Table toppers

This season, Girona became only the fifth team in LaLiga history to win 10 of their opening 12 games. 

They have achieved such positive results while playing the most entertaining football in Spain, outscoring their illustrious rivals with a league-high total of 29 goals and conceding only 14.

Manager Michel has Girona playing with a devil-may-care attitude that sees an ambitious, attacking style embraced. 

He said: "I want to empower and develop my players, not minimise the risks when we play." 

That is not to say Michel has been beyond developing an edge that the likes of Barca and Real may think is somewhat beneath them. 

Since winning promotion in 2022, no side in LaLiga has scored more often from set-pieces, which are generally delivered with pinpoint precision by midfielder Aleix Garcia. 

They also come out on top for the number of headed goals during this period, with forwards such as Artem Dovbyk and Cristhian Stuani providing serious aerial threat. 

For a club with a stadium that holds just over 14,000, it may sound like the ultimate rags-to-riches story but there is a more complicated reality to Girona's rise. 

Artem Dovbyk is Girona's leading scorer in LaLiga this season with six goals
Artem Dovbyk is Girona's leading scorer in LaLiga this season with six goals

City link

Girona have been part-owned by City Football Group since 2017 and are part of a roster of clubs which includes Champions League holders Manchester City. 

Though they are a team with a small budget, there is no doubt they benefit from their connections. 

Midfielder Yangel Herrera was signed from City this summer, while right-back Yan Couto is currently at Girona on loan from the Premier League side. 

Savio has been another star performer for Michel and he was acquired from Troyes, who are also part of City Football Group.

But while there are definite advantages to be had from Girona's ownership structure, they have still had to make a series of brilliant decisions to reach this point.

The Blanquivermells signed Ukrainian duo Viktor Tsyhankov and Dovbyk for bargain fees, while Daley Blind has added experience following his free transfer. 

And the smartest move of all was to keep faith in Michel during their 2021-22 promotion season when at one point it looked like they would miss out.

European dreams

Michel has masterminded Girona's journey to the top
Michel has masterminded Girona's journey to the top

After last weekend's exciting 4-2 comeback victory against Osasuna, Michel tried to keep expectations grounded. 

The Girona boss said: "Taking away the big three, I dream of being between fourth and sixth place, knowing the difficulty it entails and the pressure I put on myself and the club.

"We have 31 points and avoiding relegation is very close now. 

"We have to look one step further." 

Michel may still be talking about avoiding relegation but his side already hold a 10-point advantage over Athletic Bilbao in fifth.

Once just a dream, European qualification is now a realistic aim for Girona.


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