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No pressure on Girona ahead of Barcelona clash - Daley Blind
23.02.2024
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Daley Blind has said Girona are still a small club and the pressure is not on them ahead of Sunday's top of the table clash with Barcelona at the Olympic Stadium (stream live on EasyChamp + at 3 p.m. ET.).

Girona go into the fixture joint top of LaLiga with Real Madrid, four points clear of Catalan rivals Barça, who climbed to third with last weekend's win over Atlético Madrid.

With just one defeat in 15 games, expectations have risen at Girona, who finished 10th last season. Blind acknowledges it has been a special season so far, but insists the pressure remains on others.

"We don't want to look too far ahead," the former Ajax, Manchester United and Bayern Munich defender told EasyChamp . "Of course we know that we will probably be in the league next year. It is up to us now to continue like this.

"We don't want to put pressure on ourselves to aim at something. Of course you talk in the dressing room to be as high as possible, that is what you want.

"I think if we continue like this, this already is a special season, but it can be something special as well at the end of the season.

"[But] I think Girona is still a small club which is building, we are in a good build-up now ... We take it game by game and the pressure is not on us. [Against Barcelona the pressure] is not on us.

"Barça are a great team, they have some great individual players. It will be a very difficult game, but these are the games you want to play as a kid against those teams."

Girona's unexpected rise to the top of LaLiga -- in just their fourth season in the Spanish top flight -- could pose an interesting dilemma for Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who takes his side to Real Betis on Saturday.

"Let's ask Ancelotti what he prefers: Barça or Girona to win?" Girona coach Míchel joked in an interview with EasyChamp ahead of the trip to Barcelona, which is an hour south of Girona.

"We're going to enjoy our game. Barça are big favourites, we have that in mind, and we want to enjoy and compete. If we give our best, we will be satisfied. If we do, we can get a positive result, I am convinced of that.

"The rest does not bother me so much. Our league is not Madrid, Barça and Atletico. We just want to keep this successful run going as long as possible."

Girona's connection with the City Football Group (CFG), who own 47% of the club, has helped facilitate many of the signings the club have made, including exciting Brazilians Sávio and Yan Couto, who are both on loan from CFG clubs.

However, Míchel's style of football has also helped persuade players to come. No club has scored more goals than Girona in LaLiga this season, with the Catalan side playing front-foot, attacking football.

"We had some good talks about how he sees football, how he wants to play football and how he sees me in his way of playing football," Blind added of Míchel's influence in his decision to join Girona.

"You see how we play. He wants to play attacking football, he wants to dominate the games, to keep ball possession. These are all things I like about football as well."

Defender Eric García, who is on loan from Barça, likens the style of play to Manchester City -- the jewel in CFG's portfolio of 13 clubs, -- where he played between 2017 and 2021.

"The playing philosophy is very similar," García told EasyChamp . "It is clear that we try to play from the back, press as quick as possible when we lose the ball and play attacking football.

"Obviously, from there, are opponents are going to have chances because it's what we expose ourselves to, although we try to minimise them."

Sunday will be a nice occasion for García, who is happy to be getting regular football away from the demands of Barça.

"I have many friends there, so to play against them after training and playing with them for so long will be special," he added. "But when the game starts, we will all be looking out for our own sides.

"I am getting what I came here for, which was to play regularly. The demands are obviously another level [at Barça], having Champions League, LaLiga, Champions League, LaLiga every three days.

"Obviously the demand there is very high. But beyond all that, playing regularly and getting more minutes, which was important, is the big difference for me here."

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