Following up from our Copa Del Rey win against Linares in midweek, Barça are on the road again as we travel to the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes to take on Granada. One thing that we can be excited about is the fact that we have been able to recover a lot of players for this game. Players like Memphis, Gavi, Dest and Balde are all back in the squad, which is absolutely massive for us. Ansu Fati is very, very close to returning but the club don’t want to take any risks with him. They’re taking a lot of caution with him, considering how vital he is for our game. So we can probably expect to see him back in action against Real Madrid next week. Overall though, the fact that we are slowly getting a full strength squad back is very exciting, and will give us a lot more in tricky games like this one today.
Lessons from the past:
This will be the second time Barça have faced Granada so far this season. And in a sense, it’s a perfect way of summing up our season so far. At the camp nou earlier on in the campaign, we were under the orders of ex Barça legend Ronald Koeman. When you look at our performance as a team back then, it was quite frankly awful. We labored to a 1-1 draw at the camp Nou, after a late Ronald Araujo equalizer. Throughout the game though, Barça let Granada walk all over at home. And if we’re honest, they were unfortunate not to walk away with all 3 points. Flash forward a few months and we’re in a very different position.
Xavi has taken over as head coach and has given us fans a lot to be excited and encouraged by. The style of play has been ever so slowly improving, game by game. He’s given confidence to absolutely every player and you can see that they’re all fighting , moving in the same direction. To quote Xavi himself, we’re starting to look like a family. We’ve slowly been moving up the table too and we’re hoping we can continue doing this today.
A quick look at our opponents
Granada currently find themselves in 13th place in La Liga. They’re also unbeaten in their last 5 games, with their most recent result coming as a 0-0 draw away against Elche. During these 5 games, they’ve also been able to beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in their own stadium. And although Atleti haven’t lived up to their highs of last season, that is still a very impressive result for Granada.
During the 19 games so far, they’ve drawn 8 games and lost 6, whilst only winning 5. Out of those 5 games however, 4 of those have come at home. Offensively, as a team they have been able to score 23 goals, conceding 26 goals in the process. Which averages out at over a goal per game, which is definitely encouraging for us. Taking all the stats out of it, Granada is always one of those teams that we seem to struggle against home or away. One of our most famous away trips against Granada was our incredible last minute comeback in the Copa Del Rey last season. Jordi Alba, Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann inspired us in the last minutes of that game, which inevitably led us to winning the title at the end of the season. Our last away game against them in the league was also a very impressive outing. Once again with Barça legend Leo Messi and Griezmann both scoring a brace, guiding us to a 4-0 win.
What’s at stake?
We are currently in a much more positive position in the league, standing in 5th place. We’re only 1 point behind Atletico Madrid in 4th place and only 2 points behind Real Betis in 3rd. A win today would mean wed leapfrog these two teams and land in 3rd place fkr the time being. And when you consider the type of matches the teams above us are going to face this weekend, it makes the 3 points even more vital. Real Madrid face a tough match against Valencia at the Bernabeu. Whilst 6th and 4th place Rayo and Betis face each other tomorrow. Any of the teams around us can drop points this weekend, so we need to make sure we are capitalising on any slip ups, just like we did last weekend. It’s going to be a tricky game for us today, but with a lot of our important players coming back, we can have a lot more confidence!
My team prediction:
Dani Alves- Pique- Eric Garcia- Alba
Gavi- Busquets- Riqui
Dembele- Jutgla- Abde