2017/18 LaLiga: Girona make their top-flight bow
LaLiga has got the season underway in a state of mourning, with minute's silences before each game and at clubs' training sessions, too. The rest of the sporting world has also been paying its respects, from tennis ace Rafa Nadal to Spain's basketball team, expressing the pain we all feel for the victims of the atrocities on La Rambla in Barcelona on Thursday afternoon, and in Cambrils a few hours later. But life must go on. What these evil individuals want is to destroy our way of life, and the innocent entertainment that sport brings us is a part of that. And in Spain - due to its longevity and intensity of emotions - that chiefly means LaLiga. On Friday it kicked off in Leganés and Valencia, with Alavés and Las Palmas the visitors, respectively.
Girona become the 62nd club to make Primera debut
The 2017/18 campaign brings a welcome new addition: Girona. Never before have the Catalans, the 62nd club to make their bow in the division, been in Spain's top flight. On Wednesday, I paid them a visit to get to know the people who run the club (headed up by president Delfi Geli) and savour the excitement felt by the newcomers ahead of the opening weekend. We'd neglected them to such an extent that, while there, I learned that at AS we'd been using an old crest without the facelift given to it a decade ago. Now installed in Primera División, we're all going to look differently at a club whose city is first-class in so many aspects, particularly the quality of life it offers. This was all they were lacking, and now they have it.
Girona ready to welcome Atlético to Montilivi for LaLiga opener
They had just beaten Manchester City, under whose shadow they've put together this project. They talked me through their preparations. The pitch has been trimmed by half a metre to offer greater room for the advertising hoardings and, while they're at it, change a drainage system that dated back to the year dot. Two metal stands have raised the capacity from 9,000 to 14,000. Their budget has gone from 10 million to 50 million euros (45 from television revenue), which has to be managed well. They have extended the contracts of the coach, Pablo Machín, and local boy and emblematic club figure Pere Pons. Their first fixture is tonight, against glamour opposition in Atlético Madrid. Girona are in for a special evening. As is LaLiga.