Girona set for final Europa League push

girona-mojica As the La Liga season nears its conclusion, attention turns to who will finish where, with real focus on the battle to secure a European qualification spot.

The top four in La Liga has essentially been sown up by Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Valencia, who have a 12-point cushion.

In the Europa League qualifying places, Villarreal (5th) and Sevilla (6th) look set to finish the season strongly.

Currently occupying 7th place, is Girona, who are enjoying an incredible debut season in the top flight. The Catalan side are the undoubted success story of 2017-18 in Spain, and they need one final push to seal a brilliant campaign.

Big results earlier this season, including a draw against Atletico Madrid on the opening weekend, and a memorable 2-1 win over Real Madrid on October 29th, set the benchmark.

A run of just two defeats between the start of November and the end of 2017, saw Pablo Machin’s team break into the top ten, forcing the rest of the league to take notice.

Consistency and solidity remains the focus for Girona, with just three defeats in 2018, all against top five sides.

They have developed the key habit of beating sides well below them, including Las Palmas and Deportivo, and picking huge points against sides in and around them in the table, including Leganes, Villarreal and Celta Vigo.

Machin likes to keep things simple in terms of tactics and personnel, with little change made to his starting XI across the course of the season.

Manchester City loanee Pablo Maffeo has been real asset at right wing back, alongside former Middlesbrough man Bernardo on the other flank.

Youth team graduate Alex Granell has risen to prominence in midfield, and in attack Cristhian Stuani and Portu have formed a 28 La Liga goal partnership, with the latter the fourth highest scorer in the division in 2017-18.

Currently in seventh, ahead of eighth place Real Betis, only by goal difference.

However when the going has tough this season, Girona have invariably risen to he challenge.

The run of games before the end of season does favour Girona, over the Andalusian side, who face Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Eibar before the end of the season.

Girona only play one top five side before the end of the campaign, Valencia, two weeks before the end of the campaign.

In a fortnight’s time, Girona host Real Betis, safe in the knowledge that they have not lost at home in La Liga since December 4th 2017.
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