After coming away with a goalless draw against Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener, Barcelona will be looking to build on their league momentum gained from a 5-2 victory against an esteemed Valencia squad last time out.
Their opponents this week are recent Segunda Division graduates Granada. While not much has been expected of the team hailing from southern Spain, they have done well to shock the media as well as the public by producing a number of impressive performances that has resulted in them sitting in sixth place in the league standings, just one position below the champions. Even more impressively, they sit on the same number of points as Barca, and only trail by goal difference.
Granada started off their return to top-flight football with a thrilling 4-4 draw away at Villarreal. Esteemed forward Roberto Soldado bagged a goal as well as an assist, while winger Antonio Puertas and attacking mid Fede Vico also opened their scoring accounts on the opening matchday. An own goal by Ruben Pena wrapped up Granada’s scoring.
The next fixture saw Granada face off with Europa League outfit Sevilla. Unfortunately, their first home game ended in an underwhelming 1-0 defeat to the favourites. Not a single one of Granada’s 12 shots hit the target, while Sevilla managed to break the deadlock through a 52nd minute Joan Jordan goal.
The Segunda Division runners-up then hit the road again and made a visit to Espanyol, Barca’s Catalan rivals. With a mostly unchanged starting eleven, Granada silenced the home crowd in a shocking 3-0 hammering of Espanyol, with goals coming from Puertas, Carlos Fernandez and Ramon Azeez. A total of 14 shots, with six on target, highlighted Granada’s counter-attacking intent.
In their latest league outing, Granada were yet again playing away against stronger opposition, this time Celta Vigo. While Celta Vigo’s poor discipline resulted in two red cards early on in the first half, Granada did well to capitalize on their opponents’ flaws, coming away with a 2-0 win courtesy of German Sanchez and Yangel Herrera. This means that in their last two outings, Granada has had the guts to overcome stronger opposition in unlikely away wins.
While having scored fewer goals in the league, Granada have conceded just five, which is two less than Barca. An improved defensive record has resulted in the underdogs needing fewer goals in each match in order to pick up points.
Ultimately, Barca will be expected to defeat Granada with relative ease. Granada’s impressive showings have come against sides that are inferior to Barca, while their match against Sevilla resulted in a narrow loss.
Seeing as Barca picked up their form with a 5-2 drubbing of Valencia and a gruelling away draw with Dortmund, they should have little trouble with disposing of Granada provided the right Barcelona team shows up on the night.