MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 29: Alex Song of FC Barcelona competes for the ball with Luka Mordic (R) of Real Madrid during the Supercopa second leg match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on August 29, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Granada head to the Bernabeu to face Real Madrid on Sunday, with both sides still seeking their first victory of the season. Granada earned a difficult point last weekend at home, drawing 1-1 to Sevilla, but that result can also be viewed as a missed opportunity as they led by a goal and played against 10 men for nearly 60 minutes. Granada carried much of the play, creating 18 attempts on goal according to WhoScored.com, and if not for some wasteful finishing would've have earned three points as well as the first win of new manager Juan Antonio Anquela's tenure.
Granada are an interesting side, owned by Italian business titan Giampaolo Pozzo. Mr. Pozzo also owns Serie A's Udinese and the two clubs often share talent, as Udinese typically sends youth players to develop on loan at Granada. If you follow Serie A at all, you'll know that, structurally, Udinese's football personnel are extremely adept at spotting talent and this arrangement is vital for Granada's survival in the Primera. The side hovered near the relegation zone last season and they seemed to really divide opinion this summer as many predicted another relegation fight, while others predicted a comfortable mid-table and even a potential top-ten finish.
Granada were extremely active in the transfer window this summer, bringing in numerous new players, including signing quality veteran midfielder Iriney away from Real Betis. Another player to watch is the Italian striker Antonio Floro Flores, as it was he who caused havoc in Sevilla's area and drew the penalty which led to Granada's goal.
Granada typically line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation similar to Real Madrid's. Playing behind Floro Flores, are exciting young offensive players such Jaime Romero and Fabian Orellana, who will look to cause damage on the counterattack. In fact, according to Opta, Orellana has the most shots on goal in La Liga for players who've yet to score with 4. Granada also like to play a possession oriented style and enjoyed a 54% to 46% edge against Sevilla in that category, according to WhoScored's match analysis. That possession advantage is nearly identical to the one Granada enjoyed in their 1-0 loss to Rayo where they were sunk by a stoppage time strike after, again, dictating play for much of the match.
WhoScored also noted that Granada were dangerous in their ability to create opportunities off of set pieces, a potentially troubling aspect of this match-up, as Real Madrid's defense of set-pieces has been a little shaky through the opening weeks of the campaign. Granada also exploited the wide areas of the pitch against Sevilla and were not hesitant to send crosses in the box, so it looks like Marcelo and Arbeloa will have to be disciplined and solid with their decision-making in regards to coming forward in attack.
I expect a renewed sense of purpose from Real Madrid on the tail winds of their Supercopa triumph over Barcelona and the announcement of their place in the "Group of Death," but I do not think Granada should or will be taken lightly.
What do you think?
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