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Girona visit Rayo aiming to extend surprise Liga lead

Surprise LaLiga leaders Girona face Rayo Vallecano on Saturday looking to accomplish what giants Real Madrid could not. The Catalan minnows visit Rayo’s ramshackle Vallecas…

Surprise LaLiga leaders Girona face Rayo Vallecano on Saturday looking to accomplish what giants Real Madrid could not.

The Catalan minnows visit Rayo’s ramshackle Vallecas stadium, less than a week after Carlo Ancelotti’s side were held to a goalless draw at the Santiago Bernabeu by their neighbours.

Girona have the chance to extend their lead at the top of the table to five points on Real Madrid, second, and seven above Barcelona, third, before the traditional Spanish giants are in action.

Real Madrid host Valencia on Saturday night, while Barcelona, still reeling from their defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League, welcome Alaves on Sunday.

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Some are starting to wonder in Spain if Girona can repeat the miracle English club Leicester City pulled off in the Premier League in 2016, when they astonishingly lifted the title.

Girona were promoted in 2022 and are in only their fourth ever season in Spain’s top flight.

They have an advantage on some of the league’s other teams, because they form part of the City Football Group, the UAE-based parent company of Manchester City, who bought the club in 2017.

However, at Girona, key figures including coach Michel Sanchez and sporting director Quique Carcel are keeping their feet on the ground.

Girona have outscored every other team in the topflight with 29 goals in 12 matches – 10 wins and just one defeat – but Rayo are solid at the back.

Rayo have six clean sheets, the joint most in LaLiga along with Madrid and Barca.

Girona playmaker Aleix Garcia will be tasked with picking the locks at Vallecas, as he has done with enviable quality and consistency this season.

The midfielder moved to Girona on loan from Man City in 2017, but later signed for Dinamo Bucharest and Eibar before returning to Catalonia.

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