Real Madrid and a certain Catalan team often face off for the title of La Liga, as any Spanish soccer fan worth their salt will tell you. However, the squad hailing from northeastern Spain is not Barcelona this season.

Girona has unexpectedly emerged as Madrid’s main rival for the crown, even though they are only in their fourth season of La Liga play. As a result of their remarkable run of good fortune, they are now just two points below Los Blancos in second place on the table.

The Gironistes have been around since 1930 and play their soccer in the small Estadi Montilivi. It has a capacity of 14,000 and is located on the outskirts of a city with a population of barely 100,000.

They have spent most of their existence playing in the Spanish third division or below. It wasn’t until 2008, after a 49-year hiatus, that the club made a triumphant return to the second level.

Girona briefly competed in Spain’s top division after earning promotion in 2017. However, they quickly returned to the lower division. Nevertheless, the squad is here to stay this time around.

Michel’s players got off to strong starts this year, thus many have drawn parallels to Leicester City’s historic Premier League winning campaign. Real Madrid and Girona are leading by 10 and eight points, respectively, from Atletico Madrid and Barca.

So far this season, it seems like there will be only two teams competing for first and second place.

Liverpool and Bayern already watching Michel closely

Several factors may contribute to the success of Girona, but one of the most important is the manager leading the squad, Michel. Even though Girona’s improvement has been obvious to everyone, no one anticipated the immense jump the squad made this season.

Moreover, Michel has been executing it with sophistication. Consequently, several teams are monitoring his position in Spain.

Both Bayern Munich and Liverpool see Michel as a backup option, according to Okdiario. However, Xabi Alonso, coach of Bayer Leverkusen, is their first option for the summer.

At Liverpool, they consider Xabi the perfect choice to replace Jurgen Klopp, who is leaving the club. The German champions, meanwhile, are thinking about using the Spaniard to replace Thomas Tuchel. If Xabi turns down one or both clubs, they will try to get his compatriot.

Barcelona could also join the race

The Girona faithful are certain, nevertheless, that Michel will remain in Catalonia for the next season. This year, he made it plain that he wants to lead Girona in the UEFA Champions League next season. Especially since the team showed they can challenge for the championship.

Michel is under contract with Girona until 2026. However, it has been stated that Barcelona also considers the coach’s achievements this season quite outstanding. Reports from SPORT indicate that Barca considers him a popular figure at the Camp Nou and a potential manager in the future.

“I am focused on Girona. Xavi is the person who knows FC Barcelona best. I have a contract until 2026, so nada. Xavi is Barca,” Michel said last weekend.