A Brief Preview: Barcelona – Granada

A home match against a team sitting in the relegation zone with 2 points out of a possible 12. Twin 1-1 draws against Sevilla and Depor matched with a 1-0 loss at Rayo and a 3-0 loss at Real Madrid have mired Granada is a poor start. Things won’t really get easier this weekend, but it won’t be a cakewalk for Barcelona either. With no natural, first team CBs (PANIC! ALL IS LOST!) there will be a somewhat discombobulated back line.

I will wager this, however: whoever starts at CB tomorrow will, assuming Pique and Puyol are still not fit, start the Clasico on October 7. It will be important to get them minutes in the Camp Nou and get them used to playing in a system that doesn’t have Capita or Daddy-to-be(an pole). It’s important to maintain some continuity and not just shove a fresh CB into a clasico. Thems not regular old games, you may have noticed. Puyol is rumored to be on track to play, but that is going to be in question up until game day, I think.

Another thing: Granada put up a fierce fight last year in both matches. Granted, Dani Alves’ first penalty offense was important in giving them a shot at 2-2 (which they took, but then eventually went down 5-2 and only produced the final score of 5-3 after Alves got a red for a second penalty). That was also the match that Messi became Barcelona’s all time leading scorer, if you remember who that guy is.

So, it’s Granada, it’s another shot at remaining perfect in La Liga. 12 of 12 so far and a home match to make it 15 of 15? The team is ready for this, I think, with or without injuries. Jordia Alba appears ready for a return and while Iniesta, Puyol, and Pique will miss out, it looks like it shouldn’t be too much of a problem as long as the team remains focused. Messi will get his 2 goals, I’m sure of it.

Official Prediction: 3-1, goals by Messi (2) and Alves.

This match will supposedly air live on beINSport in the US at 4pm ET. Feel free to post what channel it will be on in your country/city.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. nzm
    September 21, 2012

    With this match, there is one thing for which I’m grateful – Dani Benitez isn’t playing.

    Benitez, on loan from Udinese, gives Dani Alves the runaround every time they’ve met. The guy’s a street brawler and a sly one at that – the type to give you a slug from behind when you’re not looking. He manages to rile Alves up something wicked, and then Alves fouls, Benitez wins and Alves gets more upset which only encourages our Dani to get more reckless as the red haze thickens in front of his eyes.

    Towards the end of last season, an at home Granada met Real Madrid and the game was not without incident. Granada wasn’t “lucky” with the ref’s calls – the other team was – and Granada lost narrowly 1-2 in a game that perhaps should have at least been a tie, all things being equal.

    In the heat of a moment, Dani Benitez threw a plastic drink bottle at the referee, and was sent off. The RFEF, ever determined to do right, banned Benitez for 3 months – a term which ends sometime in November.

    So he ain’t playing vs. Barca.

    The moral of the story is: if you want to get a ban that sticks, throw a drink bottle at a referee. It’s obviously much more heinous than poking an opponent’s Assistant Manager in the eye.

    • simple_barcafan
      September 21, 2012

      For some reason, Dani isn’t the same player this season. I cannot point out what exactly the issue is..We don’t see his “sonic-the-hedgehog” runs nor the brilliant link up play with Messi. It started during the end of last season. We all dismissed it as fatigue/injury.And then in the pre-season, he was unhappy that the club didn’t publicly squash the rumors of him leaving. He sometimes looks dis-interested (or maybe I am imagining things). Probably I am reading too much into this. Probably it is too early to judge…Anyway hope he doesn’t become like the other Brazilians though, Ronaldo, Roanaldinho, Robinho….

    • nzm
      September 21, 2012

      Yes – Dani doesn’t seem to be sparking. I was surprised that he wasn’t banned for the first game this season, given that he was sent off in the last game against Betis. Maybe one of the cards was revoked?

      It could be that there is a lot of stuff happening for Dani that’s not job-related too. His marriage breakdown, naturally, has certainly affected him.

      On the pitch, one of the reasons why he isn’t as effective is that the pressing and speed has gone out of Barca’s play. His link-ups with Messi usually happen at pace when he can get the ball, drive up the sideline and put in the looping high ball to the forwards. Those ops have been non-existent lately as the forwards seem to be more content to simply pass the ball around the perimeter of the penalty box and look for an opening.

      Towards the end of last season Cuenca took on a lot of what Dani used to do up front, and now with Montoya snapping at his heels, he’s getting pressure from all sides.

      I was sorry that he missed out on the CdR celebrations in Madrid last season, and the team hoisted Abi’s shirt onto the trophy but there was no visible recognition of Dani at that time.

      I think that he just needs to be reassured that he’s still a valuable team member, but who knows what’s happening behind the scenes.

    • September 21, 2012

      No, Dani Alves isn’t the same player, for a number of reasons:

      –Teams have figured him out, and are using a defender to isolate him from playing with Messi. Alves by himself isn’t anywhere near as dangerous.

      –He can’t be as swashbuckling because teams have also learned to exploit the space left by Alves, while also attacking Busquets directly. This means he can’t drift over. Abidal’s pace fixed a lot of those issues in the past.

      –He really hasn’t been as awesome since those contract talks. He is an emotion player (in part). Who knows what little bit of fire the club playing hardball extinguished in him?

      It’s worth noting as well that he’s still a brilliant player, and I can’t (for now) think of someone I’d rather have. But ask me again next season, when Montoya is fully mature. He’s faster than Alves, and understands more when to be up and when to be back. Blasphemy, I know, but watch Montoya play. Rare are the times he is chasing back, like Alves.


    • _Lily
      September 21, 2012

      To be fair, Montoya also has less pressure on him and has played fewer high-stakes games. (Please note that I’m not saying he hasn’t played any – I’m saying that he’s played a lot fewer than Alves.) He looked good against Getafe, and he didn’t look any worse than most of the rest of the players on the field against Real Madrid in that nightmare 2nd leg. That’s not saying much.

      I’m not saying that Montoya’s not a good player with a lot of promise – as it happens, I think that he’s an excellent player with a lot of promise. However, right now I think comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. Montoya has had a lot fewer chances to make mistakes, and Alves isn’t playing his best right now.

  2. nia
    September 21, 2012

    A win involving a clean sheet is all i want tomorrow. Is that too much to ask for? Hope Messi scores another brace, can’t be too early to start the pichichi race.

  3. ciaran
    September 21, 2012

    Would love if we see a lineup:
    Montoya – Bartra – Masch – Alba
    Thiago – Song – Cesc
    Alexis – Messi – Tello

    Montoya has been more consistent than Dani so far this season and game time can only help him.
    Bartra needs game time in case he has to play in the Clasico which he would line up next to Masch.
    Alba or Adriano at left back doesn’t really matter to me.
    I think the Granada match is the right one to rest Xavi again and Thiago played very well last weekend.
    Cesc also needs continuity to play his way out of a slump.

    If Alexis is 100% then I’d like him to get 60minutes if not then start Pedro and sub on Alexis & Villa again.
    Tello deserves another start while he’s in this form.

    • _Lily
      September 21, 2012

      Bartra, yeeesssss. I want to see Bartra out there, he’s amazing.

      I would start Pedro over Alexis, though – Pedro has been looking good and Alexis is still going down too much for me. Take a page out of Iniesta or Messi’s book, please.

      I also think that the lineup you’ve proposed has so few veterans in it (only Messi and Valdes have been on Barcelona for longer than two seasons) that it makes me extremely nervous. Are they all great players? Yes, but I don’t like the idea of having so many rookies out there. This is the first season for four of them. This isn’t even like playing a lot of Barca B kids – they’re B, but they all know how to play with each other. This is just a lot of new players.

      I don’t think Song should be starting without Iniesta or Xavi around for a little while yet, especially while there’s no Puyol behind him. Ditto Bartra and Montoya both starting the same game, especially when it’s just Mascherano at CB. Yes, Mascherano has become quite good in that position, but I would just want someone with a little more experience playing alongside three new defenders, especially when two have just left Segunda. I’d also start Pedro over Alexis in a heartbeat – I want Pedro’s finishing, not Alexis’s flopping.

      I’d say:

      Alves – Bartra – Mascherano – Alba
      Thiago – Busquets – Cesc
      Pedro – Messi – Tello

      Though I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Montoya starting over Alves alongside Bartra as long as at least one of Pedro or Busquets is on the field. Pedro is a better finisher, links up better with Messi, and knows how to hustle back to help when he needs to. In the Madrid match, Pedro helped cover Montoya several times in the second half.

  4. Dave
    September 21, 2012

    IMO It all went down hill when Alves got cosmetic ear surgery 🙂

  5. andres ito
    September 21, 2012

    i think that not having abi on the opposite side definitely is affecting dani’s play this year..maybe he know’s/or has been told that the cover is not there, so he hangs back more..he also sees montoya breathing down his neck for a starting spot..so he doesnt want to make any silly mistakes on D..also-our wingers have been getting behind their defenders on a consistent basis and sending in good balls..and we’ve won every game…so why are we complaining? these guys aren’t machines..

  6. Kimcelona
    September 21, 2012

    I dont see any huge dip in Dani’s performance. All the talk here is surprising to me. The team’s way of playing has changed slightly and the way teams play us has also changed, drastically. I don’t expect Dani to be bombing up and down the wings anymore. He’s just not afforded that time and space anymore. Simples.

    All I want tomorrow is a clean sheet and a win. If I have to settle, then a win is good lol

    My line-up would be:

    Dani Bartra Masche Alba
    Xavi Song Thiago
    Pedrito Messi Alexis

    Doubt that’ll be the lineup though..

  7. andres ito
    September 21, 2012

    hey-bfb staff-be careful..i just saw totalbarca has been hacked..

    • DumbOx
      September 21, 2012

      Saw that too. Looks Russian to me. Maybe Spartak fans are behind it. 🙂

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