Barcelona vs Granada
Newly-minted manager Quique Setien will be thrust into his first La Liga match for Barcelona as they will face Granada this weekend in Camp Nou.
The race to the top is still tight since Barca and Real Madrid are currently level with 40 points apiece. Atletico Madrid and Sevilla are not far behind with 35 points each while Real Sociedad and Valencia round out the top six with 31 each.
A victory here is in order for Barca as their rivals in Los Blancos have been riding high after bringing home the Supercopa. But with a loaded roster composing the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Antoine Griezmann, for sure they’ll come out firing come Sunday evening.
Granada, on the other hand, sank to the 10th spot of the table with 27 points after punching above their weight with their superb start. El Grana have already lost three of their last five fixtures.
El Grana would be desperate to find their footing once more. But with Barca’s superior record against them especially at home, their odds of winning in this game are unpromising.
Barca’s new regime
When the La Liga 2020 news broke about the hiring of Quique Setien, it drew a lot of mixed reactions. Most pundits felt that he didn’t deserve to get sacked after leading the club to two La Liga titles and he should get the respect that is due.
On the flip side, there were others who felt that Valverde’s tenure had run its course. The 55-year-old manager was often viewed as being too pragmatic and overly cautious to the point that he often relies in the individual brilliance of his players. And somehow, winning domestically isn’t enough for the impatient fans over at Camp Nou.
Towards the end of his tenure, Valverde was booed whenever his face was shown in the big screen for some reason. Particularly in their game against Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa, the fans were merciless with their jeers and Barca eventually lost and was eliminated.
In search for a new voice, Barca shortlisted their candidates to either former club icon Xavi and Quique Setien. Camp Nou went with Setien since Xavi felt that he is not yet ready to lead his former team albeit in a different setting.
Setien’s entry was welcomed with open arms from fans and player alike. Known as a proponent of Johan Cruyff’s principles, many believe that the former Real Betis boss is a perfect fit, and that his tactical brilliance will translate well into the pitch.
“Setien: a coach with Barca DNA and ‘in love’ with Messi,” wrote the Diario AS newspaper in Spain.
I guess SBOTOP fans will have to wait and see on how he’ll lead the team moving forward.
Granada dealt with a reality check
El Grana continue their slump after their wild start to the season, and they are hoping that the New Year will bring good omen to the team.
For a time, Granada rose to the third spot at the La Liga table, and that’s a whole lot since their starting lineup only costs around £7-M in total.
It is guys like Antonio Puertas, Carlos Fernandez, and Alvaro Vadillo who have been doing the heavy lifting for El Grana as they’ve accounted for 10 of their 25 goals so far this season. However, it’s their defence that needs some work.
Diego Martinez’s side has given up 25 goals already and it has been on a decline as of late.
In their three previous losses, El Grana have given up 2.7 goals while failing to score more than once. And their most embarrassing defeat so far this season was particularly against the struggling Eibar when they lost 3-0.
The team veered away from its usual 3-5-1 to a 4-2-3-1 formation, which arguably left them vulnerable in midfield. Sergi Enrich and Kike took advantage with that and both of them had goals of their own. Plus, Takashi Inui capped it off with his goal at the 87th minute.
Granada bounced back, however, with wins against Mallorca and Tamaraceite in the Copa del Rey. But their 1-0 victories aren’t that convincing to say the least.
Diego Martinez will have his work cut out for him and it won’t get any easier against Barca.
Barcelona have been undefeated in all of their 23 home matches against Granada, and a win here could set a new record for most consecutive home wins by a team against a single opponent in La Liga.
They have also yet to lose in their last eight La Liga matches (W5, D3).
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