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Girona: who are they? Surprising leaders in La Liga; Celtic spends similarly; less supporters than Hearts and Hibs; brother of Pep Guardiola

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Catalan club taking Spain by using storm and giving Real Madrid and Barcelona a run for their money

Anyone now not paying shut attention to Spanish football this season may additionally be amazed to see an unfamiliar identify at the top of La Liga.

Everyone is accustomed to the giants of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid competing for the championship – indeed, no longer given that Valencia in 2003-04 has the title long gone to a facet outwith the large three.

One club are searching to alternate that this season in what would be regarded one of the largest shocks in soccer records involving a facet who had in no way even performed in their country’s top flight prior to 2017.

Girona had been headquartered in 1930 and the first 87 years of their extistence had been spent fluctuating between the second, 0.33 and fourth tiers of the Spanish decrease leagues – and even beneath that with a spell in the regional division as these days as the late 1990s.

Winning promotion to La Liga for the first time six years in the past courtesy of a runners-up end in the Segunda Division was once a defining moment for the club. Another got here that same summer season when it was once used to be announced that City Football Group had bought a 44.3 per cent stake in the club.

Pere Guardiola, the brother of the Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, also grow to be concerned and would go on to grow to be club chairman in 2020, combining it with his role as one of football’s most powerful agents, having represented each Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta, among other pinnacle names.

Girona, underneath the new ownership, spent two years in the top flight earlier than struggling relegation, solely to soar lower back inside two campaigns, earning promoting once more final season after winning the play-off last 3-1 on mixture towards Tenerife.

Now back at the top table, they are taking La Liga by storm to the extent that following their 3-0 victory over Alaves on Monday night, they have overtaken Real Madrid at the summit, shifting two factors clear of Los Blancos after 17 suits played – extra than halfway via the season. They are nine factors better off than Barcelona in third.

A exceptional campaign has produced only one defeat to Jude Bellingham’s Real Madrid in September. Just remaining week, Barcelona have been soundly crushed 4-2 at their transient home in Montjuic whilst redevelopment work is carried out at Camp Nou.

Girona play at the 14,624 capability Estadio Municipal de Montilivi and their common attendance is much less than a Hearts, Hibs or Aberdeen. They spent 22.2 million euros in the summer time – an almost same outlay to what Celtic spent – with Ukraine worldwide striker Artem Dovbyk the most luxurious recruit at 7.75 million euros.

Daley Blind, the former Manchester United defender, was once an inspired capture from Bayern Munich on a free switch while children Pablo Torre and Eric Garcia have been loaned from Barcelona. Their club captain is 37-year-old former Middlesbrough striker Cristhian Stuani.

Girona play an attacking manufacturer of football underneath head train Michel that has yielded forty one dreams – the most in the league – and there is now no doubt about their repute as genuine title challengers as they chase a area in history, and a first ever qualification for European football.

Barcelona supervisor Xavi admits his fellow Catalans are the actual deal. Speaking recently, he said: “For some people it is a surprise that Girona are co-leaders with Real Madrid, but for us, no. Michel is a awesome coach, with a device very similar to ours. Excellent, just congratulate them. They’re enjoying with a mind-blowing flair. They can fight for the title. I like the truth that they are fearless, how they attack. They are courageous and it’s what has put them there.”

‘Toothless’: Pundit suggests £37k per week man, he was the only Celtic player to try against Hearts yesterday

Celtic’s defeat at the hands of Hearts, if truth be told, was once one that used to be likely coming. The fans have viewed their team conflict against lesser opposition in current weeks and the end result towards the Edinburgh club was once no longer totally unexpected.

That doesn’t supposed that the fans don’t have the proper to be fuming because they do. Celtic fans don’t thinking their crew losing, it was once the manner of the defeat that angered many as the followers witnessed Brendan Rodgers’ group meekly surrender three points at home.

Former Celtic defender, Mark Wilson, believes that he witnessed just one participant making an attempt to dig the Hoops out of the gap they had dug themselves.

The former fullback also stated that the rest of the Celtic group had been hiding as none of them had the courage to clutch the recreation by using the scruff of the neck.

Wilson said [Clyde SSB], “When you seem at recent performances they have been an tremendously poor standard. Of the 45 minutes at McDiarmid Park, that was horrendous, however at least Brendan Rodgers acquired a reaction.

“It was the contrary at Rugby Park and then arguably even worse today. A bit toothless, it simply appears like a group of players searching for any person else to come up with the goods.

“Callum McGregor gave it a shot at the start of the 2nd half, but aside from that, each person shifted duty onto any one else.

“And that’s now not a Celtic team that’s going to be successful at the give up of the season.”

Callum McGregor was the man who dragged Celtic to a win towards St Johnstone two weeks ago. The £37k per week man confirmed some leadership that day but the previous day he just couldn’t discover it in him once more to be in a position to repeat it against Hearts.

Brendan Rodgers said his captain was extraordinary yesterday, a declare that I refuted this morning, but it is honest to say that along with the relaxation of the team, McGregor has seen a dip in form.

That will alarm the Hoops guide as their captain is normally the one they can rely on to deliver a strong overall performance week in, week out.

Let’s hope McGregor starts offevolved to turn around the fortunes of the crew soon as Rangers come calling in less than two weeks time.

Pundits laugh at the ‘comical’ joke about the brutality of the Celtics as teammates mark each other in a violent Hearts video

One flashpoint from Hearts opening purpose had pundits branding Celtic’s defending ‘comical’

‘Comical’ defending from Celtic has end up the butt of the Sportscene jokes after Liam Scales and Alistair Johnston did a super job marking EACH OTHER.

Brendan Rodgers’ guys fell to an emphatic 2-0 defeat at the palms of Hearts when Lawrence Shankland made it lucky variety thirteen for the season with a free header at the lower back submit that took the Parkhead grumbles from a stupid roar to a loud chastising. That was once earlier than every other set piece from Stephen Kingsley piled on the discomfort with Steven Naismith’s guys ending a 16-year hoodoo in the Scottish Premiership at Celtic Park to sting the champions. And to add greater pain to proceedings, pundits James McFadden and Neil McCann located the humorous facet of some hard-to-watch Hoops defending for the opener.

The footage appears to show defenders Scales and Johnston surely marking every other from the nook earlier than freeing up the Jambos talisman to score. That was once ample for the former Scotland internationals to have a chuckle at the defending, with Shankland hailed for his end at the equal time.

He told BBC Sportscene: “Lawrence Shankland peels away at the back, they strive to trend a block if you like however Scales and Johnston give up up blockading each other. Having stated that, it is an outstanding end however you see right here Johnston is attempting to get round to get to Shankland but he’s truly fighting against Scales.

“When it comes to Shankland he sees the ball the total way, he has a lot of time to think about it and with the power and direction he generates, it is an incredible header.”

McCann added: “It’s no surprise. He scored a cracking header in opposition to Rangers at Ibrox but that used to be more difficult because Joe Hart’s on that side of the goal. He has to generate all the power from it however comical defending from Celtic. Scales does a awesome job on Johnston.”

Celtic’s transfer strategy if ‘big fish’ approach Matt O’Riley is made known as a champion is already after the next Dane

O’Riley has been tipped as the subsequent participant to financial institution Celtic mega-bucks and realistic John Kennedy is aware of they can’t hold him forever.

John Kennedy admits big fishes may want to quickly be swimming after big name man Matt O’Riley. But the Celtic coach is adamant the club will have a succession sketch equipped if the day comes for the Danish star to go to the massive leagues.

O’Riley’s tremendous shape in the Champions League and Premiership have attracted pastime in his offerings with the January transfer window looming. Asked if it used to be necessary to keep pinnacle stars such as O’Riley, Kennedy said: “Yeah, it is. The model, we know, ultimately, when the large fish come, they come up with the money, then the players might have ambitions to go on and play in bigger leagues. We receive that.

“But it’s just having a regular flow. So Matty’s come in the past couple of years, he’s stepped forward surely nicely and, when they are attracting attention, it’s due to the fact matters are going in the proper direction. That’s the nature of it. Again, we just have to make certain that, at the back of that, we have the subsequent one in line.

“We maintain bringing them through and absolutely everyone appears to a Matt, or players in the past. Jota last year, Kieran Tierney, Kris Ajer, Odsonne Edouard. All of these guys who have gone onto some of the greater leagues. But it’s a true inspiration.

“Not everyone’s ambition is to do that. You get any one like Callum McGregor who will have had plenty of possibilities in his career to do so, but enjoys being here and now captains the club.

“You also have to accept some people’s ambitions and we do that. But, whilst they are here, we provide our all to them in phrases of what we can do for them and we count on the identical on the other side that they put their work in each and every day to be the exceptional versions of themselves.”

Kennedy, meanwhile, insists it’s a big increase to have quiet inspirations Daizen Maeda and Cameron Carter-Vickers back. The key Parkhead pair are set to return in today’s crunch Premiership conflict with Hearts after damage absences. Maeda has been out for nearly six weeks having sustained a knee harm in the course of the Champions League conflict with Atletico in Madrid.

Carter-Vickers has additionally been absent for the past two matches in opposition to Kilmarnock and Feyenoord due to a hamstring issue. The assistant manager said: “People often associate leading with being the vocal one. But that’s not the case.

“Leadership is essentially round behaviour which can come in many shapes or forms. It can be vocal, it can be what you do in training, how you live your life. Everyone has a exceptional way of doing it and the component is to be natural with that. Daizen’s natural thing is to run and work absolutely hard.

“If you watch him on the coaching pitch, we see it each day. You guys see it on matchdays, but when he does on a matchday, absolutely everyone talks about his workrate and going for walks and everything else, but it’s because of what he places in each day.

“He’s an inspiration to all the gamers due to the fact they respect what he brings and what he does. If we get any younger players that come up, we use him as an example. He’s an necessary participant for us and, in the time he’s been out, we’ve neglected him. It’s good to have him back.”

Carter-Vickers additionally leads by way of example as Kennedy continued: “In phrases of stature, he’s a large figure. Again, he’s not a shouter, he’s now not one in the dressing room you’ll hear a lot from. But, if we have small team meetings and stuff like that, he’s greater than blissful to front up, speak, provide his opinion and information the younger players. Again, how he trains and what he does on a matchday, that’s his model of leadership. He is a certainly essential discern for us.”

Celtic can re-establish an eight-point lead in the title race with a victory over the Tynecastle outfit and Kennedy insists the team have to stick to their principles. Kennedy said: “Second half final week (against Kilmarnock), we have addressed that. We lost manage of the game due to the fact we came away from the way we play.

“We showed them examples of Atletico Madrid urgent us Celtic Park and taking part in thru it no problem. It’s all in the idea in that admire and the players have been superb on that, embody it and take it on board.”

“You don’t see this on telly.” Celtic star, according to James McFadden, is “frightening” to witness live

Celtic fans have had the privilege of gazing two years of Kyogo Furuhashi’s magic.

That unknown discern who thrived at the club under Celtic’s Treble-winning instruct Ange Postecoglou is a man for huge and memorable moments.

Blink and you will leave out him. A flash of mild in the penalty vicinity and a workaholic like no other, the performances of Kyogo Furuhashi have been so top that some have even said that he is the high-quality given that the King of Kings.

James McFadden is an admirer of the 28-year-old and he explained the difference between staring at him live and by means of the telly from your sofa, as he told BBC Radio Scotland (13/12/23 at 8:20 pm).

The former Scotland midfielder couldn’t accept as true with the quantity of off-the-ball movements Kyogo Furuhashi makes because he thinks it’s a lot extra when you watch him up shut and personal.

Added to that, the Japan superstar has nonetheless been there in the big moments for Celtic this season, inclusive of the winner at Ibrox.

Some are questioning if he is nevertheless at the same degree he was beneath Ange Postecoglou in contrast to Brendan Rodgers, with James McFadden sharing his thoughts.

Watching Kyogo Furuhashi play stay for Celtic

“On Kyogo, when you honestly see him live,” stated McFadden. “The amount of times he makes the movement we all understand that he has.

“The pace in which he has it. The amount of times he does the double movement, takes the defender quick and the ball doesn’t come to him.

“It’s frightening. You don’t see as a great deal when you are gazing the telly. When you are at the recreation live, he is non-stop. Always making these movements. The ball simply isn’t coming to him.

“Overall, I don’t think he is enjoying too differently to remaining season, it was just that he was getting probabilities in and around the penalty field that he isn’t getting this season.”

Kyogo Furuhashi will be back to his best

In current Scottish Premiership matches, Kyogo has been dropped to the bench with the aid of Rodgers for Hyeongyu Oh.

That tactic labored against Hibs, however not for the defeat to Kilmarnock on Sunday.

That’s why, after starting and assisting beat Feyenoord in the Champions League on Wednesday, you anticipate Kyogo to be lower back in the starting XI for the go to of Hearts.

It won’t be too long earlier than Kyogo is scoring many times again, or he will just make positive to score the winner against Rangers on December 30, as per.

The annoying Celtic Park pattern needs to end

During Wednesday night’s clash between Celtic and Feyenoord, a tremendous problem reared its unsightly head once again: pitch invasions.

Soccer Football – Champions League – Group E – Celtic v Feyenoord – Celtic Park, Glasgow, Scotland, Britain – December 13, 2023 Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers reacts Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

At the stop of the match, when emotions were at their peak following Lagerbielke’s header marking a ancient Champions League domestic victory – the first in a decade – the pitch used to be invaded not simply by the overwhelming joy of fans, however quite literally by using the followers themselves.

Numerous spectators vaulted the limitations to be a part of the fray. This wasn’t just a one-off incident; it’s turn out to be a ordinary theme at Celtic Park.

Let’s call this what it is: attention-seeking behaviour that is both dangerous and disrespectful.

Each invader, focused on shooting their second of fame, appears to neglect the broader implications of their actions. These invasions disrupt the game, prolong the play, and more critically, pose a protection threat to gamers and team of workers from each teams. It’s a selfish act that indicates a blatant brush aside for the game’s sanctity and the security of those on the field.

Beyond the instantaneous risks, this style has wider repercussions. Celtic, as a club, faces the brunt of these moves via inevitable UEFA fines.

Brendan Rodgers has spoken towards pitch invasion now not so lengthy ago, saying, “Stay off the pitch, watch the recreation and exhibit some respect.” [SunSport]

The essence of soccer lies in its capability to unite followers in a shared passion, but that solidarity should never cross the line into chaos. Celebrating a goal, specially one as momentous as Lagerbielke’s, is phase of the game’s joy. However, there’s a line that need to not be crossed. Invading the pitch is not a shape of celebration; it’s a breach of recognize for the sport.

Brendan Rodgers’s Celtic future is closely scrutinised on TV, but his unwavering queries are met with clear replies

Reshmin Chowdhury has already caught the ire of the Parkhead fans this term after a brutal stats bomb was dropped.

TNT Sports presenter Reshmin Chowdhury went two-footed in on Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers before the Champions League clash with Feyenoord – earlier than a late winner saw her flip the script.

Chowdhury left the Parkhead fans in disbelief on matchday 5 following late heartbreak at the arms of Lazio when she slaughtered Rodgers – and also started up Neil Lennon. The Irishman used to be on punditry duty as the miserable winless run in European competitions stretched to 15 games as they bowed out of the Champions League.

And earlier than the healthy she stuck the boot in on the Parkhead boss once once more as she clashed with Lennon over the future of Rodgers following the give up of the Hoops’ European campaign. After rhyming off the painful states from the Group E campaign, she asked Lennon: “How a lot strain is Brendan Rodgers beneath then?”

Lennon tried to snigger off the question, as he said: “At Celtic you are always two defeats away from a crisis, but I don’t suppose any huge quantity of pressure – in particular from the board…” However, the host cut in.

She threw again to the criticism of Rodgers after he left for Leicester City – and how his return cut up the Parkhead fan base. She quizzed: “What about the fans? Because of the way he left and got here back, now not everybody universally loved the notion of having him lower back at Celtic.”

Lennon replied: “That is authentic however Brendan is an elite supervisor and he has verified that. There is a rebuilding manner and he will be disappointed with the Champions League campaign, there is no question of that, however to say he is under pressure – below scrutiny extra than anything.

“We are out of Europe now, it would be fantastic to win this recreation and it would be important – however the whole focal point on that will be on attempting to hold the championship again and the strain will begin to build for the give up of the month with Rangers in town.”

However, following the full-time whistle and Gustaf Lagerbielke’s late winner she flipped the script stating: “Only his second win in the Champions League for Celtic – I suggest that is large for him in phrases of relieving a little bit of strain on him.”

Lennon responded: “No question. Brendan wishes to be at the best level and be profitable at the perfect level. He will see this as a constructing block.”

Chris Sutton responds to Celtic’s Champions League victory, saying, “The rot has stopped.”

Chris Sutton stored tabs on Celtic’s Champions League conflict against Feyenoord from the London International Horse Show tonight.

The former striker has watched his old membership suffer a decade of distress in UEFA’s elite competition as they took some heavy beatings while coming close to breaking the long going for walks mission for their first home win considering the fact that October 2013 towards Feyenoord.

There used to be nothing at stake tonight besides for a 2-8m euro payout with Celtic anchored in backside spot with Feyenoord looking ahead to Europa League football in the new year.

Luis Palma opened the scoring with a 33rd minute penalty however the Dutch champions regarded to have secured a factor in the 82nd minute when Yankuba Minteh shot home unmarked from 12 yards out.

That looked like any other difficult success story for the hoops however right on the 90th minute Gus Lagerbielke headed home from shut range after being picked out through a extraordinary go from Matt O’Riley.

After eight minutes of stoppage time Celtic, and Sutton with the horses, had been able to celebrate.

Kyogo’s goal drought is not his fault, Brendan Rodgers tells Celtics critics, explaining in detail why the star isn’t scoring

Kyogo hasn’t hit the goal for the Hoops considering the fact that a 6-0 win over Aberdeen in November.

Brendan Rodgers has revealed Kyogo Furuhashi will lead Celtic’s assault towards Feyenoord – and insisted he’s not to blame for the striker’s current intention drought.

Rodgers left the Japanese talisman on the bench for Sunday’s shock defeat at Kilmarnock after losing him out of the group for remaining week’s home win over Hibs. But the Parkhead boss tested on Tuesday night Kyogo will be pitched again in from the begin for his side’s final Champions League game of a catastrophic marketing campaign against the Dutch large guns in Glasgow’s east end.

And he rubbished any suggestion that his own tactical approach has been immediately to blame for a miserable run which has considered Kyogo net only as soon as in Celtic’s last 10 games. Asked if Kyogo will change Oh Hyeon-gyu in his assault Rodgers replied: “He will play. We have to be truthful to Kyogo and some of the other boys as well. They can’t play in every single game. You lose that speed and intensity.

“Oh’s executed well when he’s come into the game. A bit like Mikey, he gets his start and then obviously the team performs nicely in opposition to Hibs so you let that beginning crew begin apart from Cameron Carter-Vickers with a view to making changes.

‘But you need a properly squad and you need to give some relief to players, mainly with him and the quantity of work he receives through.”

Rodgers has been blamed for this drop off for deploying Kyogo in a deeper function than the one which was once earmarked for him through former boss Ange Postecoglou. But the supervisor hit lower back by insisting Kyogo has gone against his personal instructions.

He said: “We went via his video stuff the other week. We appeared chiefly at the fact I don’t need him shedding in so much. When you’re playing in a lot of video games where groups are sat deep, you don’t get a kick of the ball actually until it comes into the box.

“So what do you do? You begin wandering. His energy is his penetration. That’s his strength, running in in the back of and timing his runs. You have to make 10 runs maybe to solely get in once however that’s your job as a striker.

“So there’s been nothing changed in that. There’s been without a doubt nothing different asked of him due to the fact his power is enjoying off the ultimate line, timing his actions and being instinctive in the box.

“He’s now not a dribbler, he’s now not any one who does drop in. He can do it however it’s not his strength. And that’s continually the assignment for a striker who wants to affect games. But he’s very receptive. He’s not a baby, remember, he’s 28 years of age.”

Kyogo and Oh celebrate

Rodgers additionally printed that neither Cameron Carter-Vickers nor Daizen Maeda will make the squad for tonight’s tie, notwithstanding rejoining the squad in training the previous day after harm layoffs. He said: “They won’t be concerned tomorrow. Cameron trained this morning, however it is probable too an awful lot of a risk. He will be reachable for the weekend.”

That capacity Nat Phillips is likely to begin towards the Eredivisie champs regardless of a shaky performance capped off by an personal purpose in the Rugby Park defeat. But Rodgers insist the blame for that loss stops at the manager’s door.

He said: “Listen, I think it is a collective. It can by no means be pointed at one player. I thought in the first half we performed very well. We played with exact velocity and should have scored extra than one goal.

“But from the very outset of the 2d half of we didn’t play. If there is all of us to blame for the result, blame me. It is down to the manager to pick out the team. No, it was a disappointing result.”

Another team has now formally offered to sign a “outstanding” Celtic player in the bidding battle – report

One Celtic player is starting to come to be a target remote places beforehand of the New Year, with any other club making an offer for his services.

Celtic switch update

The Hoops have been busy over the summer following Brendan Rodgers’ return to Parkhead, with a range of additions being made in multiple areas of the pitch.

Alongside all the arrivals, there were also some departees, and the club without a doubt made a profit in the summer, mainly due to Jota’s big-money exit to Saudi Pro League side Al Ittihad. As nicely as Jota, Celtic additionally obtained prices for Carl Starfelt, Albian Ajeti and Conor Hazard, and via the looks of things, the club ought to soon convey in cash for another player in 2024.

Celtic outcast Yosuke Ideguchi made the cross again to Japan until now this year, joining Avispa Fukuoka back in February. Since then, reports have claimed that the J1 League prefer to secure his services on a permanent deal.

However, in a new Celtic switch update from Japan, relayed via The Glasgow Times, the Hoops have already obtained an provide from Avispa Fukuoka and now fellow Japanese aspect Vissel Kobe are also stated to have made a “formal offer” for the midfielder.

Yosuke Ideguchi’s profession at Celtic

Ideguchi arrived in Glasgow returned in January 2022 and is under contract until 2026, however, things haven’t worked out for the Japan international. He has ignored a variety of video games via damage due to the fact placing pen to paper in Scotland and has made just six senior appearances in inexperienced and white. His injury problems have endured while on mortgage at Avispa Fukuoka.

Former Greuther Furth boss Damir Buric previously heaped reward on the player, though, saying:

“In regards to Yosuke, I can only speak the best. He is an exquisite individual with top notch character. First of all I was very impressed with the way he got here returned from that serious injury. What impressed me most was once the way he was working for the duration of his time out with the injury.

“It was simply unbelievable, nearly like soldier. He confirmed such a remarkable attitude and high-quality approach. He was extraordinarily disciplined, took in each and every additional coaching session of bodily rehabilitation and invested all of his time in getting returned as quickly as he perchance could.”

He appears to be a player with quality when fully fit, however, unfortunately, Celtic haven’t viewed that model of the participant enough, so a everlasting exit ought to make sense for all involved in 2024, whether that be with Avispa Fukuoka or Vissel Kobe, making this one to watch.

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