“I get knocked down, but I get up again, you ain’t ever gonna keep me down.” The chorus of one of the ‘90s’ most iconic party anthems could just as easily describe the season of Girona, a team that has grown accustomed to falling twice, only to get back up again three times.
Online betting fans saw the Catalan side play in La Liga for the first time in club history in 2017-18, finishing 10th, only to suffer relegation the following year. They found themselves in the relegation zone nearing the midway point of the 2021-22 season under Michel, but he remained in charge and led them to sixth in the table and a promotion playoff victory, guiding them to 10th place in their return to the top-flight.
Despite losing key players such as Oriol Romeu to Barcelona and top scorer Taty Castellanos to Lazio, Girona have managed to avoid a second-year slump and have emerged as a reliable option for La Liga betting picks this season.
For the first time in several decades, FC Barcelona are no longer the best Catalan team in La Liga – at least, on paper. The defending champions sit third in La Liga, three points above Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand, and four points behind Real Madrid and Girona, but they’ll be looking to make up ground with a win at home against Girona on Sunday night.
Xavi’s side has strung together a decent run of results, winning four of their last six games. Last season, one of the most reliable avenues to a profit from in La Liga betting came with low-scoring Barcelona wins, with the Blaugrana collecting 11 1-0 wins in 2022-23, but recently, clean sheets have been hard to come by. They have conceded two goals to Celta de Vigo, Mallorca, Granada, Real Madrid and three to Villarreal.
Girona: Comeback Kings
If Barcelona’s 1-0 wins were the common theme last season, Girona’s comeback victories have been the theme this campaign. They haven’t exactly been a model of defensive security, with 18 goals conceded, the joint-worst tally in the top eight, but they have shown a resilience befitting of a title challenger.
For a club that has never competed in Europe before, Girona has certainly set the standards high over the first few months of the season, and this is reflected in their -200 betting line to finish in the top four.
🎲 𝙏𝙐𝙀𝙎𝘿𝘼𝙔 𝙂𝘼𝙈𝙀𝙎! 🎲
Take the FC Barcelona v Girona quiz! 👇
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 5, 2023
Girona ascended to first place for the first time in club history, only to immediately relinquish it in a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid. They would bounce back with a 1-0 win against Cadiz before erasing an early two-goal deficit and beating Almeria 5-2, edging Celta de Vigo 1-0, and securing a 2-1 win against San Roque de Lepe in the Copa del Rey courtesy of a last-minute goal from Savio, who has emerged as a revelation in attack with 5 goals and 4 assists in 16 matches.
Girona entered the 70th minute down 2-1 at Osasuna but escaped with a 4-2 win, with Ukrainian duo Artem Dovbyk and Viktor Tsyhankov and midfield metronome Aleix Garcia engineering the remontada in El Sadar. They conceded within five minutes to Rayo Vallecano, but Dovbyk would pull them level before the break whilst Savio scored the winner in the 65th minute. After sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Athletic Club, they found themselves behind going into the 80th minute, but Christian Stuani would step up with a brace as Girona snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Valencia. If they can beat Barcelona at the weekend, they will claim their 13th league win of the season – as many as they had in the entirety of 2022-23.
— Girona FC (@GironaFC_Engl) December 5, 2023
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our sportsbook has caught onto Girona’s high-risk, high-reward pattern in games, with ‘Both Teams to Score’ being valued at -160. However, you can place a $60 bet on ‘Both Teams to Score and Over 2.5 goals’ and take home a profit of $50. We’ll take those La Liga odds: 10 of Girona’s last 14 league matches have featured over 2.5 goals, whilst 10 of them saw both teams find the back of the net.
Keep an Eye on Dovbyk
Whilst the likes of Felix and Raphinha are more than capable of wreaking havoc on the counter against a Girona side that operates with a high line and an aggressive pressing style, Girona have ample tools to threaten Barcelona’s defense from Savio to Garcia to Tsyhankov. However, one player in particular whom I expect will have a massive impact is Dovbyk. At 26, he has enjoyed a sensational start to the season and taken the mantle from the legendary Stuani in attack. With 11 goal contributions, only Jude Bellingham (13) has more in Spain’s top-flight.
Barcelona have struggled this season against quick, physically imposing strikers who are capable of snuffing out chances with their killer movement, be that Samu Omorodion, Vedat Muriqi, Alexander Sorloth or Danylo Sikan, and I think Dovbyk could very well be a thorn in their side. At +200 for ‘Anytime Goalscorer’, he’s certainly a worthy addition to your soccer bet predictions for what should be a high-scoring and entertaining fixture.
Question Of The Day
What is the best bet in La Liga this week?
Girona has become used to over 2½ goals and both teams scoring, and we’re backing that trend to continue against Barcelona.