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La Liga: Girona eye another Real win to maintain stunning start

Girona have made a spectacular start to the new La Liga season, winning six of their first seven games to sit top of the table.

The northern Catalonia club host mighty Real Madrid this weekend so that superb record will surely be tested - but it's no given the so-called minnows will suddenly cave in at the sight of Jude Bellingham, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and co.

WhatGirona v Real Madrid
WhereEstadi Montilivi, Girona
When17:30, Saturday 30th September 2023
How to watchbet365's Live Streaming Service & Viaplay Sports 1
OddsGirona 5/2, Draw 3/1, Real Madrid 19/20

Perfect at home so far

Girona's home record so far makes for impressive reading. Michel's side have won all three at the Estadi Montilivi, beating Getafe, Las Palmas and Mallorca by a combined score of 9-3.

Away from home they have overcome Sevilla, Granada and Villarreal and drawn with Real Sociedad to lead the way early on in Spain.

Real will be well aware what they're up against on Saturday - and not just because of that fine start. 

Girona memorably won the last meeting between the sides - 4-2 at home - in April, while they also picked up a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in the reverse fixture last October.

Add to that the fact Girona famously won away at Los Blancos in April 2019 and it appears, in recent times, that the Blanquivermells have Real's number.

However, despite their wonderful early-season form and eye-catching record against Real, it's the visitors who are the 19/20 favourites to triumph this weekend, Girona are 5/2 and the draw is 3/1.

Longevity in Girona's fine form?

Plenty of so-called smaller clubs have made brilliant starts to the season across Europe down the years only to spectacularly fall away as autumn turns to winter.

However, there may be some longevity in Girona's form - after all this is a side that were in the mix for a European place for much of last season before they belatedly faded towards the end of the campaign to finish 10th.

That, of course, is no embarrassment for a club that is only competing in its fourth season in the Spanish top flight and who play their home games at their modest 14,000-capacity stadium.

Their achievements are certainly not to be sniffed at, especially when you consider they only made a return to the second tier in Spain in 2008 after a 49-year absence. 

This is a modern story of steady improvement amid careful investment at a club which has cultivated a hard-working, team ethic which then enables them to substantially punch above their weight.

Riches behind the scenes

Behind the scenes there will be some who suggest it's not all about the romance of a small club making it good in the big time in one of Europe's main leagues, as Girona are part-owned by City Football Group (CFG), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi United Group, who are in charge of current continental champions Manchester City.

However, to explain away their recent success as just being down to money - which the club and its owners clearly do have in abundance - is far too simplistic.

This is a side that has been carefully built. They have a nice blend of youth and experience and several players who are flourishing as they sit at the top of the table.

Stalwarts like David Lopez, Daley Blind and Juanpe are helping rising stars like Pablo Torre and Eric Garcia, both on loan from Barcelona, while established Ukraine internationals Viktor Tsyhankov and Artem Dovbyk are among their other key men.  

Famous win over Real six years ago

Girona's finest hour to date arguably came when they beat Real 2-1 back in October 2017 - a result which made the rest of Europe sit up and take notice of this small Catalonian club - who had only two months previously been taken over by CFG.

Things have moved on since then and Girona have actually spent three seasons back down in the Segunda Division in the intervening years, before earning promotion back up via the play-offs in 2022.

Their wonderful start to the season is something to shout about, though, for a club overall on the rise and, while it would be a big surprise if they are still in and around the top of the table come next spring, they will at least be relishing mixing it with Real Madrid - who currently are a point and a place below them - once again this weekend.

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