Manchester City have looked unstoppable so far this season, but their ability to challenge on all fronts after hiring one of the world’s best coaches and spending significant sums on elite players should probably not surprise anyone.
The same can’t be said for their cousins in La Liga, however, as humble Catalan club Girona, for so long in the shadow of Barcelona and Espanyol, rise up the table and now begin to look towards Europe in their maiden season in Spain’s top flight.
Bought last summer by City Football Group (44.3%) and Pere Guardiola-owned Girona Football Group (44.3%), Girona has given CFG another important strategic foothold on their path to global football domination.
Obviously having the City manager’s brother involved in the Spanish club’s hierarchy means relations are fairly simple, but after receiving some players on loan from the Premier League side last year as part of a more informal arrangement, the two clubs are now official partners.
Girona finished second behind Levante in Spain’s second tier to achieve promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history, but after a solid start they have kicked on to rise up the table and, going into the halfway post, find themselves fighting for the European positions.
Such success was unthinkable at the beginning of the season, but after a string of impressive home results – including beating Real Madrid and securing a draw against Atlético - Montivili has become their fortress and they are just one point behind sixth-placed Villarreal.
In addition to the economic benefits of being associated with Sheikh Mansour, the ownership of City Football Group has also allowed them to bring into their squad four of Man City’s top young talents: Spanish duo Pablo Maffeo and Aléix Garcia, Brazilian Douglas Luiz and Colombian forward Marlos Moreno.
The most impressive of these has been Maffeo, who spent last season at Girona squad and played a role in their historic promotion. His importance in the team has even increased, becoming an indisputable starter in Girona’s first XI. A right-back who plays with great attacking style, an impressive display against Real Madrid has some bigger teams now following him should City decide he won’t make the grade on the east side of Manchester.
Obviously there are plenty of games yet to be played this season and the Man City DNA in them could see Girona crumble disastrously, rather than continuing their current march towards European football.
But something feels different around this club that is breaking through its ceiling. With the influence of City Football Group and its flagship club Manchester City, the future seems bright.
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