The curse of the third persists and Girona breaks theirs

Eibar players regret their elimination against Girona. / mikel askasibar

Ascent

The Catalan team manages to be promoted to the First Division via the 'playoff' in their sixth attempt

The curse of the third in Second gains more strength every year. Finishing in the third step of the silver category has become the worst of nightmares, stories that not even the best screenwriters would be able to design. The 'playoff' has become more of a drama than a new opportunity for anyone who finishes on the third step of the podium during the regular season. No one wants to see themselves at such a crossroads.

Only three teams -Valladolid, Almería and Getafe- have managed to avoid what is almost a norm in the twelve years since this system was established. The list is getting longer and longer: Girona, Nástic, Zaragoza up to two times, Málaga, Leganés and, now, Eibar.

With almost no reaction time, having been seen at the gates of promotion is not a dish of good taste for anyone. They could well tell Girona, who starred in one of the toughest chapters in memory. That fateful June 2015 will hardly be forgotten in Montilivi. From being with both feet in the First Division to a goal from Pablo Caballero, then in the ranks of Lugo, in the 89th minute sending them to the dreaded 'playoff'.

However, the worst had not yet come. For anyone, a 0-3 in the first leg would be a great result, except for Girona. The wide advantage of little was going to help him in Montilivi against Zaragoza, who was going to star in one of the greatest comebacks in modern football in memory. With three goals in the first half, the hands leveled the tie, to which was added a fourth goal in the middle of the second half to sentence it. Few could believe it.

Now, this year, the tragedy has crossed with Eibar. From being champions to a goal from Giovanni Zarfino, in added time, relegating them to third place on the last day. What came next perhaps they could imagine. Again, the third fell to the first change, this time against the rival who has had the worst time in the history of the 'playoffs'. A goal from Borja García, as soon as the game started, and another from Cristhian Stuani, at the beginning of extra time, invalidated the Basque victory in the first leg.

Persistence Award

From one curse to another, Girona was going to break theirs. If the saying goes that the third time is the charm, the Catalans had to wait for the sixth. With their victory, and consequent promotion, at the Heliodoro the Catalans have put an end to the curse that had haunted them since their first playoff in the top flight. The happy ending, sooner or later, was going to come, although life's coincidences did so accompanying his first executioner, the Almería of an old man known as Rubi and who was then on the other side.

True dramas have come to live in Montilivi, without forgetting that epic comeback of Zaragoza in what is surely one of its greatest tragedies for the Catalan club. It seemed like an impossible mission that a promotion along this route was going to arrive. They had to get as sixth to end the bad omens. It is the third campaign in a row that the sixth rises, since Elche and Rayo did it before.

Girona returns to the First Division three years later

The last two 'playoffs' were still in the memory of the people of Girona. Pere Milla's goal, in the midst of a pandemic and without an audience, in the 96th minute still stings As the most recent story was also on the retina and that Rayo Vallecano that 364 days ago turned the decisive tie around, leaving Girona a year more in Second Division.

But it had to be at home where this jinxed story would end. And he had to do it on the same day that the city's basketball team was promoted to the Endesa League. With Míchel at the controls of the ship it was time. The coach who once rose to the highest category with Rayo Vallecano and Huesca, has had to be in charge of breaking the particular curse of this Girona.

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