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Barcelona vs Granada: A Winning Debut for Setién?

The new coach will want three points at the Camp Nou

La Liga: FC Barcelona Training Day Photo by Marc Gonzalez / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images

As the former coach of clubs such as Real Betis, Las Palmas, and Racing Santander, as well as a player at Racing Santander and Atletico Madrid, Quique Setién is no stranger to the highs and lows of La Liga. While his appointment as Barca’s new manager may have come as a surprise, he will no doubt be looking to elevate his career to new heights as well as restore European glory to the Camp Nou. His first game in charge comes against Granada, a side that is well-known for causing upsets. But just how likely is a Barca victory as Setién & Co play host to the southern Spanish side?

Sitting in 10th place in the league table, Granada have had what one could call a balanced season. The mid-table team has both won and lost eight games, and scored and conceded 25 goals. Their last five matches consisted of three losses and two wins, with high points coming in their 3-0 win over Alaves and their 1-0 win over Mallorca. Unfortunately, such fine results have been eclipsed by a 3-0 loss to Eibar, a 2-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao and a 2-1 loss at home to Levante.

Granada CF v RCD Mallorca - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

As can be seen from their latest fixtures, Granada have an air of unpredictability - each match’s result depends heavily on which Granada side shows up on the day. It is important to remember, however, that most of the sides that Granada have played as of late are bottom-to-mid table sides. So just how well have the Andalusian club fared against La Liga’s top dogs?

The Blaugranes’ away fixture against Granada this season ended in upset, with the hosts coming away with a 2-0 win. Despite only keeping 24% possession, Granada managed to seal victory with a second-minute opener from Ramon Azeez and a 66th minute penalty that was converted by Álvaro Vadillo. Granada’s defence remained solid throughout the contest, only allowing the Blaugranes one shot on target throughout the 90 minutes.

Granada v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Soccrates/Getty Images

Granada’s fixture against Real Madrid just three weeks later did not yield the same success, with the underdogs losing 4-2 at the Santiago Bernabéu. Despite walking away with a loss, this fixture did showcase Granada’s resolve and grit. With Los Blancos blazing into a three-goal lead by the 61st minute, the match looked done and dusted in the eyes of spectators. Despite being found in such a grim circumstance, the underdogs started to punch well above their weight and soon got back into the contest with 69th minute Darwin Machis penalty and a close-range volley by Domingos Duarte in the 77th minute. With just a single goal separating the sides, the contest remained tight until the 92nd minute, when James Rodriguez sealed the win with the Galacticos’ fourth goal.

Real Madrid CF v Granada CF - La Liga Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

Fast forward two months and Granada were due to host Atletico Madrid. The tight fixture remained goalless until the 60th minute, when Atletico’s Renan Lodi pulled the away side ahead. Granada responded just minutes later by leveling the score with a Germán Sánchez Barahona goal. The game ended with a point apiece, as Granada yet again pressured their opponents until the final whistle.

While not every result has gone their way, Granada have proven to be a team that never takes their foot off the pedal. While Barca have home advantage as well as a stronger squad on paper, the Blaugranes cannot afford to let their guard down for even a moment. Although a Barca win is expected, three points against such a driven team will nevertheless be a strong start to Quique Setién’s Barca career.

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