That no doubt should earn plenty of good will, but he boasts another kind of history on his resume now after a seismic upset loss to new boys Girona.
Real has slipped eight points behind Barcelona and four behind Valencia after a 2-1 decision at Girona on Sunday (Perhaps just as remarkable, Girona pulls into 11th with the win).
Consider that Girona had never played in the top flight before this season and the incredibly tense political atmosphere between the Spanish capital in Madrid and independence-craving Catalonia. Yep, this is a big, big deal.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will take special glee in the decision, as the ex-Barcelona manager and big time Catalonia supporter supplied several players to Girona on loan. The status of Sunday’s match was once in question due to Catalan’s desire for a referendum on independence
Guardiola recently supported jailed Catalan separatists in Spain, while Real has long been associated with the Spanish crown since earning its royal moniker in the early 20th century.
Isco deposited a first half rebound of a Cristiano Ronaldo shot to make it 1-0, but Girona struck twice in five second half minutes through ex-Middlesbrough attacker Cristhian Stuani and Cristian Portu, the latter assisted by Maffeo.
Real also had a late Lucas Vazquez goal ruled out.
At almost any other club, you’d shrug your shoulders at the bad luck and the hands of time.
At Real Madrid, however, you have to wonder whether mercurial leader Florentino Perez is itching to make a change.
Pep Guardiola gets his second go-around with Manchester City, hoping to improve on a third-place finish that came down to the wire. The Spaniard has done much work this summer to overhaul the roster and get significantly younger in key areas.
Last season’s acceptable finish eased some of the pressure that was mounting on Pep Guardiola, but another finish in the same spot this season won’t be taken so lightly. This team expects much more after such a massive summer investment, and anything less than a title will probably seem like a disappointment.
Best, worst case scenarios – Best-case scenario is clear: win the Premier League championship. With such a prestigious manager plus over $280 million spent this transfer window, there’s a clear target. Should those moves gel quickly, they could be one of the most dangerous teams not just in the Premier League but in all of Europe.
However, should it take Pep Guardiola time to mesh the new players together, an early-season sputter could scuttle the season before it even truly begins. Worst-case, this team finishes outside a Champions League spot, and Guardiola likely wouldn’t last long enough to see it come to a disappointing close.
Star player: Kevin De Bruyne — Sergio Aguero’s rocky relationship with Pep Guardiola and the arrival of Gabriel Jesus has seen the Belgian playmaker rise to the top as Manchester City’s most influential star. He played the most minutes of anyone on the squad last season across all competitions, and he was involved in 30 goals (7 scored, 23 assisted), one fewer than Raheem Sterling‘s team lead. One a team bursting at the seams with both creative and finishing talent, de Bruyne is the glue that holds it all together.
Coaches’ Corner: Pep Guardiola — Despite a solid third-place finish in his first season taking over an aging squad, Guardiola’s first season in charge had largely a disappointing feel to it. The Spaniard brought in players like John Stones and Leroy Sane who either struggled or failed to make a significant impact. After his success at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich made Guardiola one of the most sought-after managers in the world, he must prove he can navigate the Premier League or he may run out his welcome in Manchester.
PST predicts: This team is just flat out too talented to struggle two seasons in a row. Guardiola will figure out how to piece the attacking talent together, rotating Jesus and Aguero through the numerous competitions and working Ilkay Gundogan, Leroy Sane, and Bernardo Silva into the rotation behind them. The central defense is still this team’s weakness, but for all of John Stones’ struggles last season, City still managed the fourth-best defensive record in the English top flight. Kyle Walker is a fantastic addition despite his high price, and Guardiola has managed to get this team significantly younger since he arrived. This is a top-two team, and will challenge for the title.
Moreno made 19 appearances on loan for Deportivo de la Coruna last season, so he has La Liga experience, and Garcia played once for Villarreal before moving to Man City in 2015.
Maffeo is Spanish and spent 10 years at Espanyol’s academy, while Luiz moved to Man City just over two weeks ago.
Garcia and Maffeo made 12 combined appearances for City, with the former scoring a goal against Swansea City in the League Cup.
City announced it would play a friendly against Girona during a training camp in the city, the Spanish club’s last match before opening up La Liga play. Guardiola might be a little famous in Catalonia, so it’ll be a fairly memorable occasion.
The top-to-bottom depth of La Liga is hardly as strong as the Premier League or the Bundesliga, so this is a decent opportunity for a quartet of City players to earn meaningful minutes, make their names in Spain, and advance up Guardiola’s pecking order.