Echoes of Leicester City’s unlikely Premier League title triumph are to reverberate around Spain’s Liga Santander should rank outsiders Girona continue to punch above their weight by getting a result at Real Betis in one of several appetizing fixtures scheduled for Thursday, December 21. On Monday, Miguel Angel Sanchez Munoz’s side regained supremacy in the standings by taming Deportivo Alaves 3-0 at the Estadio Municipal de Montilivi to move to 44 points, two more than record champions Real Madrid.
Girona’s fairytale is a study in the correlation between finances and on pitch football success. In their march to the summit of Liga Santander where they lead Real Madrid, a team whose annual budget of €282.65m more than ten times Girona’s €27.4m, with just one game to the halfway point in the season, the Catalan outfit have turned getting value for money into an art form.
And unlike Alaves whose annual budget is the smallest in La Liga at just €11.67m, Real Betis are one of twelve sides with higher disposable income than Girona. Betis’ budget is €41.68m, a whole 14m more than that overseen by Pere Guardiola – elder brother of Pep, who supervises the club on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Group owned City Group of clubs.
In his meetings with the club board, coach Michel can point to results against La Liga’s less financially endowed sides as evidence he’s making every penny count. This season Girona have beaten every team with a lower annual budget. That batch of teams includes Alaves, Almeria, Las Palmas, Granada, Osasuna, Mallorca and Cadiz.
But they’ve also tamed Barcelona 4-2 at the 1992 Olympic Games Stadium yet their annual budget is €209.9m – almost eight times Girona’s. Betis boss Manuel Pellegrino won’t be taking Thursday’s visitors lightly as they’ve also beaten Getafe, Celta Vigo, Villarreal and Sevilla, all of which have higher budgets at their disposal.
La Liga action continues tonight when Granada host Sevilla in a relegation six pointer in one of three games. Diego Alonso’s Europa League winners have been at sea all season and were humiliated 0-3 at the Ramon Sanchez Picjuan Stadium by Getafe over the weekend. The visit to fellow strugglers Granada is thus a last chance saloon in which the Andalusians chase what would be only their third maximum in sixteen outings.
Rayo Vallecano v Valencia,
Atletico Madrid v Getafe,
Granada v Sevilla
Barcelona v Almeria,
Athletic Bilbao v Las Palmas,
Villarreal v Celta Vigo
Real Betis v Girona,
Cadiz v Real Sociedad,
Mallorca v Osasuna,
Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid