Girona, a City Group project popular in La Liga
Another season of La Liga championship will be played between “Barcelona” and “Real Madrid”. But we can’t say that there won’t be any tension or drama in this second part of the season, quite the contrary. Behind the two grebes, European places will be very expensive and we will probably have teams that can qualify for competitions that they are not used to. Betis and Real Sociedad, fifth and third respectively, could find a place in the Champions League, while Osasuna has a good chance of a place in the Europa League or the Conference League. And not far behind, there is one of the teams that are currently in vogue in our Iberian neighbors, Girona. The most ardent La Liga fans will inevitably remember this great team from the 2017/2018 season under the command of Pablo Machin, with players like Bono, Mojica, Porto or Stuani. And this season, the Catalan side are doing the same in their bid to return to La Liga after being relegated in 2019.
At the behest of Michel – not to be confused with the former OM – the stable of the town, 100 km north of Barcelona, delights everyone. It is clear that it is one of the teams that play the most enjoyable game of the championship, especially with attacking intent. With a coach who doesn’t want his team to simply defend, as he hit home several times in front of the press, the team sometimes shows different tactical systems, but the general idea is always the same: control of the game Oriol Romeu, given to the international media we were able to attend the press conference, summed up the style of the team well. “We are a brave, aggressive team, we try to defend at a very high level. Although we are quite young in this league, we still want to excel and attack as much as possible. Sometimes it exposes us a bit defensively (laughs), we need to improve that, but the number of goals we score is one of the highest in La Liga (5th best attack in La Liga, Ed)”The midfielder, who trains at Barça, explains without a doubt in this Girona team.
And as Romeu explains to us when he faces the championship leader this Saturday, there is no question of changing his principles: “When you play with such a talented team, you have to make them uncomfortable, you have to make them do things they’re not used to. Players like Xavi, Pedri, Busquets, strikers can run behind the ball, but that is not their main quality. So we’re going to have to control the ball a little more, make them run a little more behind the ball to tire them out, which will help us create more chances. Also, it will be necessary to win duels, to be mean in the best sense of the word.”. But above all, this is a particularly attractive squad, where we find a smart combination of experienced players like Oriol Romeu, Christian Stuani and David Lopez and more promising youngsters, such as the two defenders Miguel Gutierrez (ten). loan from Real Madrid ) and Arnau Martinez or Rodrigo Riquelme. Not to mention interesting profiles such as playmaker Aleix Garcia or Taty Castellanos, whose arrival in Europe was particularly successful after being a hit in MLS.
A group created by ex-Barça player Delfi Geli and sporting director Kike Karsel, a former professional player in the 90s and 2000s, and well assisted by City Group. Indeed, the Catalan club is part of a group led by Manchester City, which has 12 teams from around the world. It should be noted that in the case of “Girona” and unlike Troyes or New York City FC, the City Group owns “only” 47% of the shares of the club, the rest of which belongs to Pep Guardiola’s brother Pere in particular. Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian businessman who has been working hand in hand with the Saudis for some time, chairs the club’s board and is close to David Beckham. Contrary to what one might think – and this is legitimate when there are many thinking managers and decision-makers at the same club – he works well on all fronts, especially in the Girona side, and is far from confused. The head coach of “Manchester City” Pep Guardiola even participates in the project and met Michel several times and talked about football.
The gem of the City Group
It should be noted that the cooperation between the two clubs began in 2017, before “Vetandaş” entered the club’s shares. Indeed, in 2015, Manchester City bought Ponferradina striker Ruben Sobrino on loan. In the Catalan stable. Same routine for Pablo Marí a year later. One thing seems certain, City Group’s aim with Girona is not to make it a simple subsidiary club to send youngsters there on loan. They are also the only two loanees in the workforce from the English champions: Yangel Herrera and Yann Couto. The CFG staff really want to establish the club permanently in the elite of Spanish football and these strong links between the various clubs in the group will serve to strengthen it above all, rather than using Girona as a springboard for young prospects. We saw that with Castellanos this summer, and Girona were able to grill a few more top-flight clubs who coveted him because they share the same ownership as NYCFC, where the Argentinian plays. Ditto for Alexander Callens, who featured earlier in the week. This winter, the Catalans also welcomed one of Ukraine’s best players, Viktor Tsygankov, who arrived from Dynamo Kyiv for just 5 million euros. A transfer was signed by Pere Guardiola, who convinced the player to come to Spain, while several clubs wanted him in England.
Internally, communication between the various decision makers and Michel is very fluid. It should be noted that by appointing a coach who has three promotions from D2 to D1 to three different clubs, “Girona” management offered a coach suitable for their ambitions. “The aim is to go 53 points better than the best season in the club’s history in La Liga”, he recently admitted that coaches of newly-promoted teams are generally used to talking about those famous 42 points, which will secure them retention or places in the first division for an extra season. The draft is solid, no doubt, but it can be hoped that the leaders have learned from their past mistakes and this relegation in 2019 after the first two seasons of the club’s history in the first division. But the trend calls for more optimism and imagining a fairly calm and peaceful future White-i-Vermells…