Girona conquer Barça in Catalan Super Cup to win first ever major honor
Substitute Cristhian Stuani’s penalty with 20 minutes remaining was enough for the Gironistes to edge past the La Liga champions on an historic night in Sabadell
Girona’s sharp trajectory towards the football elite continued with a coup in the Catalan Super Cup on Wednesday as the young guns took Barça’s crown at the first time of asking. The title is the first professional honor ever won by the north Catalan team playing in only their second ever season in the top flight of Spanish football.
Their place in the competition was a prize for finishing among the top two placed Catalan teams in last season’s La Liga campaign – shattering the glass ceiling between Barça and Espanyol and the rest of Catalan football – Girona approached the game with an assurance and tactical nous that never threatened to betray their status as debutants.
Barça, the defending champions not only of Catalonia but all of Spain, may still have been mentally recovering from a week in which they beat Real Madrid twice away from home, but Ernesto Valverde’s side was freshened up, comprising a mixture of developing players and first-teamers like Malcom, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Samuel Umtiti.
Strong emotions for Girona
Girona made seven changes themselves, however, including a return for English winger Patrick Roberts after three months out injured, while managing to show a united front and deny their talented opposition more than a sporadic sight at goal.
Defensive solidity was always going to be the key to winning the cup against one of the best teams in the world, and after Cristhian Stuani gave them a surprise late lead from the penalty spot, the Gironistes held on well for a deserved victory.
Whilst Barça will be disappointed not to repeat their success of the last campaign, there is no doubt that emotions will be stronger in the Girona camp, who headed back up the coast with their first-ever professional trophy: another chapter in their rapidly expanding history book.