The domestic football season, which began on 11 August at Windsor Park in Belfast with Villarreal losing the European Super Cup to Chelsea on penalties, finally came to an end yesterday as Girona deservedly claimed the third available place in the promotion play-offs. It was a last-minute squeeze into the play-offs and it came with the team enjoying the best final sprint in the long marathon that is the ‘Segunda division’ who went onto join Almeria and Valladolid in the top flight. In their final furlong, they left behind first Eibar and last night Tenerife, in both cases pulling off creditable away wins.
As I write, I imagine the whole of Girona in the streets, celebrating the unprecedented double of two promotions on the same day, that of their basketball team, which overcame Madrid based Estudiantes in a play-off final, and later the football team, which left the Heliodoro Rodríguez in a stunned silence, where many could not believe what they were seeing. At the end of the game I admired the comments made by Girona coach, Míchel, when he recalled that on matchday 12 the club was in the relegation zone. The board trusted him and the result is there: the second promotion in the club’s history (the previous one coming back in 2017) and the third in the coach’s track record, who previously secured promotion with Rayo and Huesca.
The match itself was full of intensity in which Girona were almost always the better side. The Catalans moved the ball around comfortably in the first half against a flat Tenerife side who paid for their passive game-plan by conceding a goal close to half-time. In the second half, Girona made the mistake of trying to hold on to the goal lead and ended up conceding the equaliser. Girona’s Samu Saiz was an inspiration and was instrumental in his team’s two more goals that sent Michel’s men on their way. Despite being the team that finished sixth place in the second division securing the final play-off berth, their performances in these recent games have shown that Girona are worthy of securing a place in the Primera División.