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Girona coach: Victory over Real Madrid helped fans forget political turmoil

Shaka Hislop and Alexis Nunes try to make sense of Real Madrid's shock defeat at Girona, and where Zidane & Co. go from here.
Alejandro Moreno assesses what's wrong with Real Madrid following their shock defeat against Girona.

Girona coach Pablo Machin said his team had helped fans "forget for two hours" the volatile political situation in Catalonia by beating Real Madrid on Sunday.

A crowd of 13,382 gathered at the Catalan club's Montilivi stadium to watch the Liga first-timers win 2-1 against the champions.

The game came less than 48 hours after the Spanish government announcement that it had dissolved Catalonia's parliament and called new elections following the region's declaration of independence.

There had been fears that the game could be postponed for security reasons, but it went ahead without incident.

And Machin told his postmatch news conference: "Everyone that knows Girona and this club knew nothing was going to happen.

"Sport is one thing and another [politics] is another. People are fed up and want this to be resolved. Our fans wanted to celebrate.

"I like that, for two hours, this helped them forget."

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Catalan leader and Girona native Carles Puigdemont, who has said he does not accept his removal from office by Spain's government, was not at the game but tweeted: "Girona FC's victory against one of the top teams in the world is a great example and a reference for many situations."

Former Real Madrid coach and player Jorge Valdano, meanwhile, applauded Girona and the fans for their exemplary behaviour.

He told radio show "El Transistor": "The attitude of the people was perfect.

"People were excited about the team and there was a festive spirit in both the city and the stadium. There was no political contamination.

"There were Spain flags in the stands and nothing happened. Those that expected something else have been left disappointed."

Not since 1990, when Real Burgos stunned Real 2-1, had a club playing in La Liga for the first time beaten Madrid in the top flight.

And Machin, with TV cameras filming in the changing room after the game, told his players: "I'm no fortune teller, but we did say at half-time that if we kept playing like we were we'd have the opportunity to beat the European champions.

"This belongs to everyone and you have to be proud because you can now say that you are in a team, the smallest club in the Primera Division, that beat Real Madrid."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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