Rewriting history

Girona FC conclude a highly impressive 2023 and an amazing start to the 20232-24 season with a draw at Betis that leaves them joint top of La Liga with Real Madrid


With their 1-1 draw at Betis on December 21, Girona FC extended their unbeaten run in La Liga to ten, with eight wins and two draws. In fact, their only league defeat this season came at home to league leaders Real Madrid, with whom they are tied on points heading into 2024. It has been an astonishing start to the season by Míchel’s side, who have attracted admirers far and wide due to their expansive approach to the game. And this despite losing the likes of Romeu, Riquelme and Castellanos over the summer and not investing heavily in new transfers. That’s right, although Girona are part of the group that owns Manchester City and New York, they have not benefitted from the lavish investments fans might have expected given such well-to-do owners. Even Barça fans were surprised by the footballing lesson Míchel’s men dished out to Xavi’s supposedly more illustrious side back on December 10 at the Olympic Stadium, Barça’s temporary home while the Camp Nou is being renovated. Girona’s 4-2 win did not flatter the visitors, whose slick passing and stylish play resembled what the home side long to see of their own team.

Míchel’s team has even taken top spot in La Liga at several points during the first half of this campaign, the last time being after a comfortable 3-0 home win against Alavés on December 18. Only a Madrid victory and that 1-1 draw at Betis, which for long periods of the game looked like it would be another victory until the home side equalised late on, prevented Girona from starting 2024 as sole leader of the Spanish first division.

And given the evidence so far this season, fans can start believing this is no flash in the pan. Girona went seven matches undefeated – a draw and six wins – before that loss to Ancelotti’s side at home – that was 19 points out of a possible 21 at the start of the season, which, combined with the current ten-game run allows them to dream of competing in Europe next campaign. And how about, whisper it, title contenders this season?

If we look at the stats, the victory against Alavés meant Girona reached 50 wins in the first division, making them one of only nine teams among the 63 teams to have competed in a top-flight campaign that do not have a negative balance between wins and losses (won 50, drawn 31, lost 50) – the other teams are Real Madrid, Barça, Atlético, Athletic, Valencia, Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Villarreal.

Beyond the stats however, that 1-1 draw against a Betis side who have not lost at the Benito Villamarin this season was testament to how opponents are struggling to overcome a team that displays great personality and an unbreakable resolve in any scenario and against any rival. One concern in Seville was that the team ended up looking tired, although that is surely down to having had to play against Alavés on the Monday night.

Following the draw in Seville, Míchel said: “We lacked energy, but we played a great game,” showing that he was once again more than satisfied with his team’s performance. “The team played a great game against a great opponent. We had to control the game well with the ball and I think we did that in the first 50-60 minutes. We were able to make sure Betis didn’t hurt us in the first few minutes, when they’re always very strong. We both had chances, but I think the control was ours. Nobody has won here and we came close. You can say the draw is fair even though we had it in our hands.”

“We finished 2023 with a total of 77 points. We’ve had an incredible first half of the season, at the level of the best teams in the world. I don’t want to say it was excellent because you can always improve things, but all the fans will be proud of the team.” Indeed they will, Míchel, indeed they will.


One defeat in eighteen games

Girona’s league record this season:

Real Sociedad (a) D 1-1

Getafe (h) W 3-0

Sevilla (a) W 1-2

Las Palmas (h) W 1-0

Granada (a) W 2-4

Mallorca (h) W 5-3

Villarreal (a) W 1-2

Real Madrid (h) L 0-3

Cadiz (a) W 0-1

Almeria (h) W 5-2

Celta (h) W 1-0

Osasuna (a) W 2-4

Rayo (a) W 1-2

Athletic (h) D 1-1

Valencia (h) W 2-1

Barcelona (a) W 2-4

Alaves (h) W 3-0

Betis (a) D 1-1

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