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Fixture News

ALBION AND GIRONA’S INCREDIBLE RISE

22 June 2017

Players from Albion and Girona celebrate their respective achievements last season.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s journey to the Premier League has been far from straightforward, and the club’s penultimate pre-season opponents - Girona FC - have a similar story to tell, as they finally gained promotion to La Liga last season.
 
Prior to their promotions in 2017, both clubs came agonisingly close to reaching the promised land in previous years - with six play-off defeats and three final-day disappointments to show for their collective efforts.
 
Albion’s story is well-known after Chris Hughton’s team reached the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history, with the Seagulls ending a run of close shaves to secure their spot alongside the country’s elite.
 
Girona’s tale began in 2008 when they sealed promotion to the Segunda Division - the Spanish equivalent of the Championship. However, their intentions of reaching La Liga became clear in 2013.
 
After surrendering second position in the league with four games remaining, Girona beat Alcorcon 4-2 on aggregate to reach the play-off final - but a 4-0 aggregate defeat to Almeria ended their hopes of reaching La Liga.
 
A close shave with relegation followed, with Girona’s team struggling to match their courageous efforts from the previous season, as they narrowly escaped the drop on the final day of the season - after three managerial changes.
 
A rejuvenated Girona side returned the following season to push for promotion again, but the club’s supporters were left heartbroken after Lugo’s 93rd-minute equaliser left them level on points with Sporting Gijon - who were two goals better off.
 
Girona brushed off the disappointment of missing out on the final day with an impressive 3-0 away win over Real Zaragoza in the play-off semi-final first leg, but an almighty collapse followed in the return leg as they lost 4-1 and crashed out on away goals.
 
A third play-off campaign in four years occurred in 2016 - the same season Albion were beaten by Sheffield Wednesday after missing out on promotion against Middlesbrough - but after snatching a late winner in the semi-final, Girona were beaten 3-1 on aggregate by Osasuna.
 
Just like Albion, who experienced play-off defeats to Crystal Palace, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday - as well as a disappointing 20th-placed finish in 2015, Girona’s supporters began to question their chances of ever reaching the top division.
 
But the 2016/17 season proved the turning point for both clubs, as Albion and Girona won promotion in their respective leagues, to close an agonising chapter of promotion misses and relegation survivals.
 
Similar to the Seagulls, a play-off position was no longer a prize for the Spanish side, with automatic promotion their only target, and that’s exactly what they achieved.
 
Albion look forward to welcoming Manchester City to the Amex at the beginning of August, while Girona await the release of their first-ever La Liga schedule - which will include the visits of Real Madrid and Barcelona to Estadi Montilivi - a stadium that has a 9,286 maximum capacity.


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