How Catalonia club are punching above their weight to share lead.
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How Catalonia club are punching above their weight to share lead.

As a fiercely patriotic and proud land, How Catalonia club are punching no stranger to flying its flag through its football accomplishments.

This season, Barcelona’s exploits have not been the ones dazzling the footballing world but rather those of Girona, the region’s second city, and especially Michel, its head coach.

With 48 points after the first half of the season, Girona sit joint top of the table with Real Madrid after scoring more goals than anyone else (46) and suffering only one defeat, a 3-0 home defeat to Carlo Ancelotti’s side in September.

As one of football’s greatest stories, winning La Liga – a talk currently banned by the club – would dwarf Leicester City’s Premier League title in 2016.

At the turn of the century, the club had an attendance of just 200. How has it managed to achieve such prominence?

Barcelona or even Espanyol are historically the teams most supported by the city’s football fans. With about 200 fans watching their side play in the fifth tier of Spanish football in 1999, the 15,000 capacity Estadi Montilivi must have appeared cavernous even though it is La Liga’s smallest stadium today.

However, things began to change in 2008 after a back-to-back promotion sent the team to Spain’s second tier. At the end of the 2016-17 season, they finished second in the table for the first time in their 87-year history.

Guardiola’s younger brother Pere arrived at the club at the end of the 2014-15 season, revolutionizing the club.

Pere has experience in football marketing and development with companies like Nike. In 2009, he co-founded his own agency and became one of the most influential agents in football with clients such as his brother and Luis Suarez.