Girona sit top of Spain’s La Liga and look set to give the traditional top two, Barcelona and Real Madrid, a real run for their money.
The Catalan side have won 13 from 16 and have an enormous 41 points. For context, they collected just 49 in the entirety of last season but finished a credible tenth. The sister team of Manchester City come off the back of an incredible 4-2 win at the Camp Nou where they destroyed their much glitzier neighbours on the counterattack.
More impressively, they were not even in La Liga in 2021/2022. It has been a meteoric rise for a team who is Catalunya’s third biggest team at best, after Barcelona and Espanyol. Gimnàstic de Tarragona would probably also take issue with that statement, at least historically if not now.
Interestingly for Red Devils’ fans, a familiar face is playing for the Spanish table-toppers, Daley Blind. The Mirror reports, the Dutch international “has played in four title-winning teams since leaving Manchester United – and is now helping Spanish minnows Girona in their quest to complete a fairytale that would rival Leicester’s Premier League triumph”.
Blind has enjoyed great success since leaving Old Trafford in 2018 and won three league titles at Ajax under current United manager, Erik ten Hag and also the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich last season. However, the Dutchman understands he is in a different world now and agrees with parallels drawn between his current side and 2016 Premier Leaue champions, Leicester City.
“I understand the comparison. Leicester became champions in England as a total underdog. We are going for European football at least”.
The 33 year old continued to paint the picture by describing, “this is not really a top club where I play now. If you see our dressing rooms, it is all old stuff. Around the stadium there is nothing, apart from a hastily-built hamburger stall. Such a club, in such an environment, has no stars”.
However, the experienced defender is not getting too carried away. “We are not halfway through the season, so it’s too early to think about winning the league. But we are doing incredibly well and have at least now declared that we are going for the top European spots”.
That in itself would be an awe-inspiring achievement for a club who are enjoying only their fourth ever season in Spain’s top tier. In fact, last season’s tenth is their joint best performance in their history. They look well on course to smash that record this year.
The defender also commented on the strength of the team, which is their attacking. The minnows are the top scorers in the division and have seen 13 different players hit the back of the net. This is in embarrassing contrast to Blind’s former team’s woes in front of goal.
The Dutchman added: “We are the most effective club in exploiting chances. When we attack, we do it all together. If you have enough people in and around the box, if a shot doesn’t go in then you can also conquer the second ball and take out the counter. If that doesn’t work, we are all prepared to sprint back 30, 40 or 50 metres. The real strength is the team and the dressing room”.
Finally, the former Ajax man commented on the fact he still has “the worry that we are still going to get relegated” so “the club can enjoy to the full how things are going”.
It will be a fascinating end to the La Liga season and despite Girona’s link to the City group, maybe, just maybe, some United fans will be supporting their former player in his quest to win a title in a third country.