From the substitute’s bench at Middlesbrough, Uruguay international Cristhian Stuani could be celebrating Girona’s highest ever league finish at the end of the season.
Girona were promoted to the Spanish top flight for the first time in their 85 year history after finishing second in the Segunda Division last season.
Over the summer they underwent a key financial restructuring process, with the Manchester City-backed City Football Group buying a 44.3% stake in the club, with the remainder held by the Girona Football Group – led by Pere Guardiola, brother of Pep.
That investment gave the club the necessary financial support to develop a squad capable of competing in La Liga.
Manager Pablo Machin, who guided the club to promotion, selected his transfer targets carefully – bringing in veteran goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz from Athletic Bilbao, and Stuani and Colombian defender Bernardo from Middlesbrough.
Alongside these new faces, Machin also brought in Pablo Maffeo and Aleix Garcia on loan from their new friends at Manchester City.
However despite their new deal with mega money City, it has been a man not so fondly remembered on Teeside that is making the difference.
Stuani was signed for Middlesbrough by Aitor Karanka in July 2015, however his start to life at the Riverside Stadium was a slow one – with just six league goals before Christmas.
Despite ‘Boro achieving promotion in 2015/16, he ended the campaign with a total of seven Championship goals, with doubts over his ability to perform in the Premier League.
To some extent this was to be borne true, as he managed just five goals in the top flight last season, as ‘Boro were relegated.
Given the doubts over his adaptability to English football, a summer offer from Girona was quickly accepted by all parties, and Stuani was on his way back to Catalonia- having played for Espanyol between 2012 and 2015.
Whilst Girona have received plaudits for their results this season, Machin keeps his tactics relatively simple, which has benefitted Stuani greatly.
Defensively they have conceded just thirty goals all season, just two and three goals more than Valencia and Real Madrid respectively, and this solidity has allowed their attack to grow in confidence.
So often the problem with newly promoted sides is their ability to score goals in the top flight, and in Stuani, Girona have found their man.
Structurally the side is built on pace in wide areas, quality deliveries and direct play in the final third, all of which plays into the powerful Uruguayan’s hands.
He is comfortable playing as a lone front man when Machin looks to play a more cautious approach against the bigger sides, but crucially he has discovered the knack of being ruthless in front of goal in key moments.
Chances are few and far between for sides finding their feet, and ability to put the ball in the net eases relegation worries – and can allow can club to dream, just as they have at Girona.
The Catalan side are currently eighth, one point away from a Europa League qualification spot, and thoughts are looking upwards instead of down.
They face La Liga leaders Barcelona this weekend, but from then on they only face two of the top five before the end of the season – Real Madrid (who they have already beaten this season) and Valencia.
They face their main rival for seventh place, Eibar, in their penultimate game of the season, and with 13-goal Stuani in red hot form they could overhaul the Basque club.