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The lowdown on Girona FC

Not only is it a derby but it’s also a clash between the teams currently third and second in the Liga table with just five games left to play in the competition. This Saturday at 6.30pm comes a come that will have a huge bearing on deciding which of the two clubs goes to the Spanish Super Cup next year. Here’s a closer look at La Liga’s surprise package.


The capital of the province of the same name, in the north-east of Catalonia, Girona doesn’t even make the top ten of the biggest Catalan cities, and until it’s football team started achieving wonders, it was mainly known to the outside world for budget airline flights to the Costa Brava and for being one of the filming locations of Game of Thrones. It’s stunningly preserved medieval old quarter was a very fine choice indeed.


Founded in 1930, until recently Girona FC was little more than one other of the many provincial Catalan clubs fighting it out in the lower leagues. As recently as 1999, they were down in the fifth tier 1a Catalana, and it wasn’t until 2009 that they made it into the second division for the first time in almost 60 years.

From there, things just got better and better. After knocking on the Liga door in a number of seasons, they finally did it for the first time ever in 2017. That was also the year that the City Football Group, owners among others of Manchester City, bought a stake in the club. That certainly helped the Girona cause, but it would be grossly unfair to suggest it’s the only reason for their newfound success. This is a club that has done a lot of things very right.

After two seasons, they dropped back down to the second division, but in 2022 they bounced back up for another shot in the elite. In their first season back, they impressed. In their second season, they’ve been simply amazing. 

Montilivi 1


The Estadi Montilivi, which takes its name from the surrounding neighbourhood, was opened in 1970, but its capacity was temporarily expanded to 13,450 following the club’s promotion to the first division. Following certain adaptations, that has since been reduced to 11,810.


This is just the fourth time Girona have ever played in La Liga, so the two teams have only ever met seven times in the competition before. Barça very much had the upper hand in the first three seasons, with four wins, two draws and not one defeat, but when the two teams met earlier this season at the Estadi Olimpic, Girona won 4-2 to claim their first ever competitive victory over their famous neighbours.

Curiously, the three occasions on which Girona have so far managed to earn points from this fixture all came with Barça playing at home. At Montilivi, Barça have won three out of three, scoring six goals to no reply.

Previous Liga meetings
10/12/23 Barça 2-4 Girona
10/04/23 Barça 0-0 Girona
28/01/23 Girona 0-1 Barça
27/01/19 Girona 0-2 Barça
23/09/18 Barça 2-2 Girona
24/02/18 Barça 6-1 Girona
23/09/17 Girona 0-3 Barça



Even in Europe’s biggest leagues, it’s not uncommon for less fancied clubs to be among the leaders for the first few months of a campaign. Logic usually prevails in the end, but in Girona’s case they have just kept going and going. As late as February they were still top of the league and had lost just one game, 3-0 at home to Real Madrid. Could they go on to ‘do a Leicester City’ and win the thing?

Another loss to Real Madrid, this time 4-0 at the Bernabeu, seemed to knock some of the wind out of them, for that was the first of a run of five straight defeats on the road. They dropped to second, and then to third, replaced of course by Barça, but could move back above their local rivals with a win on Saturday.

Home advantage might count heavily in their favour. Other than the collapse against Real Madrid, they only other dropped points at Montilivi were draws with Athletic Club and Real Sociedad. All 13 of their other home fixtures have ended in wins.   


International caps
Daley Blind (Netherlands, 106), Cristhian Stuani (Uruguay, 50), Viktor Tsyhankov (Ukraine, 51), Yangel Herrera (Venezuela, 33), Artem Dovbyk (Ukraine, 25), Eric García (Spain, 19), Yan Couto (Brazil, 3), Paulo Gazzaniga (Argentina, 1), Aleix García (Spain, 1), Savio (Brazil, 1)

Barça connections
There are four players in the Girona squad who have a past at FC Barcelona. In fact, two of them are officially on the Barça books and are just spending the year out on loan. Centre back Eric García was originally a La Masia resident but it was at Manchester City where he made his name before returning to Barça in 2021.


And midfielder Pablo Torre joined Barça from Racing Santander in 2022, switching between the first team and the reserves but ultimately not getting much football with either, and the hope is that at Girona he’ll get more playing time.

Also, defender Arnau Martínez and midfielder Valery Fernández were at La Masia before joining l’Hospitalet and Girona respectively.



Miguel Ángel Sánchez Muñoz, known as Míchel, spent most of his playing days at Rayo Vallecano, and that is also the club where he started out as a manager. He helped them to promotion into the first division, then did the same with Huesca, and completed the hat-trick when he led Girona up in 2021. There are certainly no flies on Michel’s track record, and this year is turning out to be his best yet.

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