Both sides are coming off 2-1 victories in their first league matches, with Granada registering a gritty away victory against Osasuna on the strength of two first half goals from Youssef El-Arabi and Hassan Yebda.
Lucas Alcaraz's men managed to secure a positive result in Pamplona despite the fact that Osasuna actually enjoyed a massive 64%-36% advantage in possession, according to WhoScored. Lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Granada were able to cede possession and create scoring chances on the counter. Speaking after the match, Alcaraz said:
"The team had intensity and had many chances to counter, but we have to be more lethal in front of goal in our next match. When you do not take all your chances, you may end up suffering."
Granada were dangerous (and somewhat wasteful) in front of goal, playing long balls into the box and ultimately winning a penalty against Osasuna that Piti was unable to convert. Former Rennes midfielder Yacine Brahimi is perhaps the key architect of Granada's swift counterattacks, as the stylish midfielder is capable backing defenders up with pace (ala Cedric last week) or playing a precise through ball to spring El-Arabi and other attackers forward.
Besides the acquisition of the aforementioned Piti, on a free transfer from Rayo, Granada were also able to shrewdly secure defensive midfielder Manual Iturra from Malaga and Depor's Riki on free transfers as well. Alcaraz's side is certainly still a work in progress but their victory on matchday one has seemingly provided them with a nice confidence boost ahead of their match with Los Blancos on Monday evening.
Carlo Ancelotti's side are used to playing teams who are willing to absorb pressure and bide their time for opportunities on the counter. If Madrid are able to dominate possession at anywhere near the same level Osasuna were, it's hard to imagine them not converting that time on the ball into goals. It'll be interesting, though, to see if Casemiro is selected as a bulwark in front of defense to safeguard against counterattacks before they solidify.
Granada's much sought-after left back Guilherme Siqueira (a reported Madrid target) didn't feature at all in last week's match and may not feature again as a possible transfer nears. His replacement is the promising young Columbian defender Brayan Angulo and Real may seek to test the inexperienced left back early as he continues to settle into his role.
It'll also be interesting to see who Ancelotti selects in goal for Real Madrid. The rest of the lineup is expected to be similar to the side that defeated Real Betis, with the exception of the injured Sami Khedira. Granada should provide a stern test for this Madrid squad and, maybe more importantly, a clearer picture of this team's identity under Carlo Ancelotti.
What do you think?