Job done, Girona have reached the all-important 40-point barrier. Through a mixture of grit, determination and resilience, they certainly haven’t done it the hard way, with Pablo Machín’s side securing at least another season in La Liga with 11 games to spare. Although the giant-killing of Real Madrid back in autumn and a memorable 2-2 draw in their first-ever top-flight match in La Liga certainly stand out, it was an unlikely yet unsurprising victory over Villarreal last weekend which secured survival.
Very much like their squad, it was a mixture of youth and experience that helped Girona over the line and even more strikingly to their first away victory in 2018, a bet365 bonus code of a result. The ever-dependable Cristhian Stuani’s set Machín’s men on their way 14th goal of the season, heading home from close range early in the first half, before youthful January signing Choco Lozano from neighbours Barcelona B wrapped up the game late on with a stunning strike from outside of the box. Once more, Girona’s very unique combination of ensuring that the basics are achieved consistently and correctly, coupled with the ability to produce something special out of the blue, proved its worth once again. The Blanquivermell are safe and they live to fight another day in La Liga.
But what next for Pablo Machín’s side? Do they sit back, relax and put their feet up comfortable in the knowledge that their position in Primera next term is guaranteed or should they - despite their top-flight inexperience - see this season as an invaluable opportunity to perhaps defy expectations again and make it into the Europa League?
All signals throughout the club would suggest the latter and that Girona will stick to their guns, keeping their foot firmly on the pedal, intent on finishing the season with as many points as they possibly can. On paper, it’s a fantastic idea and a true reflection of a never-say-die attitude, which has been paramount to the Catalans’ success in 2017-18. In reality, however, the players will know that deep down, the team’s primary objective has already been achieved, albeit with flying colours.
Girona’s most recent match against relegation-battling Deportivo La Coruna provided a true test of their attitude going forward, yet any fears of complacency were dispelled thanks to a 2-0 win, which moved them into sixth place, putting them in the driving seat for a European berth.
Expect Machin to make use of his squad depth from now until the end of the season, with all eyes on future recruitment, given their ownership structure. The likes of Douglas Luiz, Michael Olunga and Aleix Garcia, who proved a welcome addition to the Catalans’ team following a recent injury to Pere Pons, will more than likely feature in their upcoming games as the club’s hierarchy prepare to make a decision on the trio. Girona may well even rest their best performers, so don’t be too surprised to see the likes of Portu, Alex Granell and Pablo Maffeo dropped.
Back in August, no-one really knew how the start of the season would pan out. Fast forward almost eight months and no-one quite knows just how the end of the season will conclude. Whether Girona keep calm and carry on, taking their recent run of good of form into the business end, remains a mystery, but here’s a telling statistic. Taking goals conceded in the last five minutes of matches this season into account, Girona have dropped eight points – eight points that would’ve firmly cemented their position in the race for the Europa League. Oh what could’ve been!