Match Preview: Granada vs Real Madrid
With Atlético Madrid’s narrow win last night, nothing is in Real Madrid’s hands anymore. Although Zinédine Zidane’s men still have plenty to fight for with three games still to go, the draw against Sevilla will be what they will look back at as the point where their indecisiveness cost them most. Still, very much in the air though as even after a week in which 1st faced 2nd and 3rd played 4th the results are inconclusive.
Granada come calling this time as a relatively weakened squad travels to southern Andalusia. Every game brings forth the opportunity to grab three points, each of which count the very same. Again, no room for complacency for Zidane’s men. The Champions of Spain did themselves a favour by retreating after Sevilla took the lead in Madrid last week but it wasn’t the ideal result. Any sort of win would be quite ideal here as this is a team desperate for wins — with just 2 in their last 8.
What to Expect
This is turning out to be a season where any team can get the better of any team on said day. It gets very hard to predict what sort of momentum Real Madrid carry to Estadio Los Cármenes but one should foresee a strong display. Granada, unlike Sevilla, are the type of team to play passively against dominant sides like Madrid themselves. In stark contrast from last week, Zidane can expect to see a lot of the ball but very few sights of goal.
Granada, like most teams in Spain, have had a season full of ups and downs. Mostly ups, by their relatively modest background. Diego Martínez’s team associated themselves with the tag of being the entertainers last season as they finished 7th in their return to the top flight. Their European campaign ended at eventual finalists Manchester United but they can pride themselves over what has been another successful season.
Martínez’s team welcome the Champions having won 3 and lost 7 of their last 10 games in all competitions. Madrid too find themselves in a very complicated situation but expect dominance from the visitors. Granada will likely try and resist, because they haven’t been enjoying their best form and don’t have much to fight for in the games that remain. Except, of course pride. To go with their distinctive identity Granada also hold a very respectable record against the top 4 sides in LaLiga having already beaten Sevilla and Barça this season.
An uphill battle after Atleti’s victory, and with scores of absentees in defence. Granada have nothing to play for, but might like to beat another giant in the title race. This represents Madrid’s only shot at silverware this season so there’s no two ways about it for them.
Zinédine Zidane has plenty to think about today. Primarily in defence where a list of names are ruled out. Dani Carvajal, Lucas Vázquez, Sergio Ramos and Raphaël Varane remain absent. Marcelo joined the list of absentees on his birthday following a reported training ground disagreement with the manager. So did Ferland Mendy, the Frenchman’s foot injury seems worse than initially predicted.
Federico Valverde and La Fábrica starlet Miguel Gutiérrez are expected to play in defence with the pairing of Nacho Fernandez & Éder Militão starting centrally. However, Zidane isn’t expected to alter the rest of his lineup too much. Marco Asensio might find a starting berth after his goal against Sevilla. Apart from that, it’s hard to see anything out of the ordinary from the Real Madrid eleven.
Granada come into the fixture in terrible form, but also with a set of missing names that makes them seem more vulnerable than they’ve probably ever been this season. Roberto Soldado will serve the second of a three game ban following his recent sending off.
Ángel Montoro limped early against Cádiz and will join the likes of Yangel Herrera, Domingos Duarte, Kenedy, Luis Milla, Jesús Vallejo and Carlos Neva in the treatment room. This is one of the more extensive injury problems any team has faced in LaLiga Santander this season. As a result of the same, I expect Granada to play more conservatively, or with less ambition than they would’ve otherwise.
Valverde — Militão — Nacho — Gutiérrez
Modrić — Casemiro — Kroos
Asensio — Benzema — Hazard
Foulquier — Sánchez — Pérez — Quini
Vico — Gonalons — Yan Brice
Puertas — Molina — Marchis
Player to Watch
Real Madrid: Eden Hazard. His contribution against Sevilla may have come down to just the deflected goal that he didn’t know about but for a player as lost in confidence as Eden is, that helps. At least that’s what I’d like to think because he came on and played 13 brilliant minutes against Sevilla. Not to an extent to which I’d call him our most important player tonight but certainly the one I’m most looking forward to watching. After Miguel Gutiérrez that is.
Granada: Jorge Molina. Granada are stacked when it comes to quality in midfield and up front. They’re without a clean sheet in 11 LaLiga Santander games, but the talent outside of that is unquestionably incredible. Molina is 39 years old, a striker not with the best technique but insane awareness. The Spaniard has seen loads of game time as of late and for a team that cannot rely on their defence as much, a key asset.
He makes runs in behind, is a menace in the air and makes instinctive movements in and around the area that either set defenders off or create angles for him. Don’t expect Molina to be at his physical or athletic best but he grabs his opportunity when he has it. Clinical player.
Granada 0-1 Real Madrid
Madrid hate coming up against sides that defend passively and I’m confident that’s the way Granada are going to play. Without doubt, both teams have been heavily inflicted by injury but I suppose the champions will prevail, narrowly.