Granada vs. Barça: That Which Defines Them


A challenging fortnight begins for Barça with an away game to Granada.

With no mid-week game last week, the team even had 2 days off and 6 days in total to recover and prepare for what will be a decisive and intense 15 days.

Prepare yourselves, culés!

16th Feb: Granada vs. Barça (La Liga @ 20:00 CET)
20th Feb: AC Milan vs. Barça (Champions League @ 20:45 CET)
23rd Feb: Barça vs. Sevilla (La Liga @ 22:00 CET)
26th Feb: Barça vs. Real Madrid (Copa del Rey @ 21:00 CET)
2nd Mar: Real Madrid vs. Barça (La Liga @ 16:00 CET)

These will be the matches in which the results will determine whether the team will make it hard or easy for themselves for the rest of the season.

~ Wins or draws in La Liga will strengthen their hold on the lead.
~ A win at San Siro (a.k.a. Stadio Giuseppe Meazza) will give them an upper hand in this CL knock-out leg.
~ A win (or a highly unlikely 0-0 draw) in the CdR sees the team progress to the Final against either At. Madrid or Sevilla.

One step at a time, beginning with tonight’s game.


Granada’s Coach

“The team has to face every game without dwelling on past performances. Prior to every game, I always have to think about what things will be of benefit to the team and what will improve it. If you think optimistically that things will turn out well, you can often get a good result.” ~ Lucas Alcaraz in this week’s press conference.

Poor results prior to Christmas had Granada’s former coach, Juan Antonio Anquela, dumped out of his job after the first game of 2013. In came Lucas Alcaraz.

Alcaraz is one of a rare breed of football managers who didn’t play football in any serious capacity prior to becoming a coach. He’s no stranger to Granada – born and bred in the city – and his first coaching job was at Granada CF between 1995 and 1998 while they were in the 3rd Division.

Since then, he’s gone through 10 other mostly unsuccessful stints with other teams (including 2 at Almeria) before landing back at Granada.

It’s as if he knows that this is probably his last chance to prove himself, (or maybe he’s happier now that he’s back in his home town), because the team results have been largely successful since he took over.


Where does Granada Stand?
In the 5 games under Alcaraz, Granada has lost to Sevilla, drawn with Getafe and won against Rayo, Real Madrid and Deportivo.

Those first 2 games are notable victories. Rayo is currently 6th on the Liga Table and doing good things. This puts them in Europa League contention, although they’re being hotly pursued by Sociedad, Betis and Levante.

The win against Madrid was remarkable, given that they won 1-0 without a single shot on goal in the entire game. A headed Cristiano own-goal gave them the extraordinary victory, much to the rapturous delight of their partisan home crowd.

Sitting 14th with 26 points, Granada can’t afford to relax, especially with Bilbao (26 points), Zaragoza (24) and Osasuna (22) close behind and the only buffer between them and the relegation spots. (Mind you, the way in which Celta, Mallorca and Depor are playing at the moment, it’s going to take some small miracles to shift them out of relegation.)


The Club
Without looking too deeply into it, I reckon that Granada has one of the most International teams there is, with players from Spain, Argentina, Cameroon, Morocco, Algeria, Brazil, Senegal, Colombia, Romania and Nigeria in their ranks.

Out of the 13 Granada players that are currently out on-loan, there are also reps from Ghana, Czech Republic, Scotland, Switzerland, Chile and Venezuela.

That’s 16 different countries.  We only had 13 different nationalities at our wedding!

In 2009, the club was in such dire financial straits that it almost folded. Salvation came in the form of a partnership with Italian Club Udinese Calcio. Granada is now the recipient of on-loan players from Udinese as well as helping to develop its youth players and reserves.

The club currently has 4 players in its First Team on-loan from Udinese – Cameroonian Allan Nyom, Spaniard Dani Benítez (Dani Alves’ nemesis), Romanian Gabriel Torje and Nigerian Odion Ighalo.

After 22 years in lower divisions, Granada regained entry into the Liga Primera last season. They were almost demoted (losing their last game of the season to Rayo), but finished in 17th after Villarreal was heart-breakingly defeated (by At. Madrid) to take the last demotion spot.


New Players for the Club
Granada was very active in the January transfer window and picked up some solid players to reinforce their squad: 3 Mid-fielders and 1 Forward.

Former Barça B player, Nolito, has arrived on-loan from Benfica. He supplied the corner kick from which Cristiano scored to give Granada the win against Madrid, so you could say that his impact has been immediate!

Perhaps one of the more surprising moves was that of Argentinean Diego Buonanotte from Málaga to Granada on a 4.5 year contract. Just as he was starting to be more called upon by Pellegrini (Buananotte scored that sublime free-kick against Barça back in January), he upped sticks and left, claiming that he needed more playing time. (Diego’s personal – and playing life – were severely hampered by a car accident on an Argentine freeway in 2009 in which he lost control of the car that he was driving. 3 friends in the car were killed and Diego sustained serious injuries. Initially his recovery time was set at 7 months, but within 5 months he was back on the pitch playing on-loan at River Plate.)

José Luis García del Pozo (b.k.a. Recio) is on-loan from Málaga and scored his first goal for the club in the 2-0 win against Rayo.

32yo Forward Carlos Aranda has joined Granada from Zaragoza. A former Madrid Academy player, after leaving RM in 2001 Aranda has done the rounds of a lot of Spanish clubs before returning to Granada for his second stint at the club.


Old Familiars
Perhaps the thorn in the side of Barça, as far as the Granada team is concerned, is their GK Antonio Rodríguez Martínez, (b.k.a. Toño) who, like Valencia’s Diego Alves, can seemingly get into the minds of the Blaugrana players and stop them from scoring goals. Toño had a great game at Camp Nou earlier this season where he made fingertip save after save. It wasn’t until a determined Xavi was subbed on and blasted a high shot (that made it into the net after bouncing off the underside of the bar) that the stalemate was broken in the 86th minute, and the home side went on to win 2-0 after a Messi shot rebounded off Granada’s Borja.

Young Romanian Right-winger Gabriel Torje will be one to watch. He was the stand-out player in the game against Madrid a couple of weeks ago.

Moroccan NT Forward, Yousef El-Arabi has 4 goals credited to him for this season. Together with Brazilian Left-back Guilherme Siqueria who also has 4 goals, they lead the Goal Tally table for Granada.

The recognised play-maker for the team is 31yo Brazilian Iriney Santos da Silva. Whenever he’s on the pitch, you can be sure that the ball cycles through him and he’s a go-to guy for set pieces.

Sitting out injured are 2 players. The down-and-dirty street-fighter that is the Left-back/Mid-fielder Dani Benítez has a hamstring injury and Mid-fielder Fran Rico is sporting a knee injury.


The Travelling Blauberries
Dos Santos is once more mopping the floors and turning off the lights at home; injured Xavi wins time with Núria; David Villa recovers from kidney stones and gets more huggy-time with Luca, and Abidal is waiting for final clearance which may turn into a Roving Ambassador role for the club if he can’t play again.

The squad is:  Valdés, Pinto, Dani Alves, Montoya, Piqué, Bartra, Puyol, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Adriano, Thiago, Busquets, Song, Iniesta, Fàbregas, Alexis, Pedro, Messi and Tello.

I expect that Puyol may get a seat on the bench to rest him for the Milan game, as will Iniesta.

My guess at the line-up would be: VV, Alves, Piqué, Masch, Alba, Thiago, Busi, Cesc, Pedro, Messi, Alexis.

The team, Tito and Jordi will be wanting a win to regain some successful away form after the loss to Sociedad and the draw against Valencia.


The game kicks off at 20:00 CET on Saturday 16th February

Click here to convert the match time to your timezone: Granada CF vs. FC Barcelona

Streams for the match are usually found on First Row, Roja Directa and Bar TV.

Parchis on the bus to the airport this morning
Playing Parchis on the bus to the airport this morning


  1. The interesting thing about Tello is that he doesn’t seem to care about Messi’s chastising…

    1. Absolutely, that is a good thing. Tello should think about scoring when he can. Otherwise he is going to follow in the declining footsteps of Ibra and Villa.

  2. These crosses are looking awfully dangerous.

    A propos of nothing, Inigo Lopez looks a lot like Montoya. I miss Montoya.

    1. Don’t know where this comes from. I want forwards that have confidence in their shooting and are quick enough to get shots off.

    1. And expensive to replace. That means less money for a center back and a right back, and I don’t know how it works out if we get Nemar too. We’re going to lose money on Sanchez.

  3. Shocking performance from Alexis after he was subbed off. Should have scored at least ten times.

    1. Not sure if this is sarcasm but perhaps not the best time to be utilising it. Tempted to say he could have had ten while he was on…..

    2. Agreed, Alexis was atrocious, the worst part is his confidence is in the gutter. I am starting to wonder if he is out of his depth in this system

  4. Fantastic 3 points to get at such a difficult ground against a newly re-vitalized team, Liga is wrapped up as far as I’m concerned. Rotations are vital because the treble is very well in sight.

  5. Cules though, when we beat teams by 6 or 5, they slag the liga inequality, boring,they say, when we scrape out a 2-1 win at a difficult ground, we are a one man team, a better quality team would have wooped our asses tonight would be their belief

    1. Haha, great observation. I personally really enjoyed today’s performance, this was a match that Pep’s team of 2011-2012 would have lost for sure. The team is much more dynamic now

    2. This is the team in 14th place who have only won about 7 games all season so they’re not great, even if they have had a couple of decent results. I would have hated to see us take them on today without Messi. I appreciate the victory but we need to be able to take more of our chances and be able to do it if necessary without Messi to be truly considered a great team. It’s more about how we play than the score for me at the moment. The quality of opposition just gets better from now on.

  6. It was a poor match. I think the problem was not so much our attacking game in genereal, although we missed Xavi and Iniesta. Still, we created a lot of chances and some of them were of high quality. Nothing wrong with that.

    But the way most of these chances were wasted was… unbelievable. Concerning Alexis, I too think the point is reached were he should get less playing time. I wish that he regains form and I am sure he is capable of helping the team, but obviously not now. I can live with a forward who doesn’t score if he excells in other elements of his game. Alexis’ game has some strong aspects but I’m inclined to say, that he is not so good that he makes up for his woeful finishing.

    For now, I’ll rate Tello and Villa higher than him.

    Alexis’ form may be frustrating for us cules, but I think it shouldn’t be our main concern. The main problem is our defence and can be separated in two distinct points:

    – Tactics. We press less. Yesterday I watched a match from the 08/09 season and I was like “WOW, how agressive we pressed!” We were all over the opponent, playing a high defensive line with a brilliantly working offside trap. Today we play much more conservative. And we can’t do that. We don’t have the muscle to do so. And it doesn’t fit our general approach to the game. Because most of the team is playing high up the field, the defence has to do so too. Otherwise the space between midfield and defence is much too big. That will cost us against stronger opponents.

    Playing a high defensive line with an offside trap may look like the more risky way to defend. But given our players and our playing style, it is much less risky than playing a conservative defensive approach.

    – Individual mistakes. I hope the problem isn’t that our players aren’t motivated. I don’t think it is the problem. But I’m not 100% sure. What is obvious is that some of our players lack concentration. Alves, Pique, Thiago, Messi, Adriano, Mascherano,… Given that I’m right and some of our players aren’t fully focused, the question is how to solve that problem. I’m not entirely sure about this. Maybe bring in some new players to intensify the competition within the squad. The ideal scenario would be that young players from the cantera can do so. But the coaching staff has to be bold enough to play the youngsters. I’m not sure if they are.

    To end on a positive note: 3 points.

    1. I’m not clear. Are you saying that Messi isn’t concentrating? I’d also question that description of Pique who has been in pretty good form for most of this season.

      Otherwise, I’d agree with most of your assessment. If we play a high line though we need Piqué and Puyol as the CBs. It’s not about pace there – it’s about holding a good line and they know the game and each other perfectly.

  7. I don’t think we played too poorly today. Granada did very well. We need to be more clinical ofcourse. I thought Messi was fantastic today. 10 completed dribbles is just crazy.

    On the Alexis issue: Quality player, but until he gets out of his own head we might want to use him only when we can afford to let him play himself out of this funk. I don’t think it’s time to abandon all hope for him though.

    We won an away game. 3 points. Yay us!

    1. I would argue that our position in the Liga does give us the chance to let him play his way out of this funk.

      I do hope its a funk and that he is not out of his depth in this team.

    2. I enjoyed the game. Except for the time when the ball would get to Alexis and the play would end up to becoming nothing. This is the business end of the season. Sanchez has had a year and a half to adapt.

  8. : Didn’t think Alexis had a bad match tbh, his movement was good but he didn’t finish. Pedro more anonymous but did a bit more in 2nd.”
    Via.Jnice, seconded#TeamAlexis

    1. Movement, Shmovement, he was dreadful. I actually think this was his worst match to date. Everytime he touched the ball you could tell he was overthinking everything. Pretty much every decision he made was the wrong one.

      Really not looking good for him, but its a good thing this gap in the liga can give us the opportunity for him to play out of this mess he’s in.

  9. Defense.

    On the bright side, I’ll take Pique in current form over any CB out there (for our style). Masch hasn’t had an own goal in awhile, but his positioning isn’t 100 % – he’s a great backup. Alba, despite a couple of recent mistakes, is the real deal.

    On the not so bright side, el Capitain can’t do it twice a week, every week anymore. Adriano is just too fragile, and thus can’t be counted on to be available. Montoya shows promise, but he’s not a-list yet. There’s another guy – Bar something, but his existence cannot be confirmed.

    That leaves Dani. I’ve been watching him closely this season, and while he’s capable of good service on occasion, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s a dangerous liability on defense and has to go. I’ve seen countless times this season where he’s drifted into middle for no apparent reason, either leaving his area or his man totally undefended. Much as Alexis ‘ defensive effort doesn’t make up for his poor finishing, Dani’s offensive moments don’t justify his defensive weaknesses.

    The problem of course, is where’s the money? We’re going to have to splash some cash for a new goalkeeper too.

    What say you Cules?

    1. Agreed on Adriano, ridiculously injury prone. Barely finishes a game these days.

      Disagree on Alves, I think he’s been getting his 08/09 form in the past couple of games. His intensity, workrate, and pure passion is a joy to watch.

    2. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree on offense. (still too many poor crosses/giveaways for my taste), but watch him around our box – he’s out of position way too much.

  10. So Jim, its not about the result any longer, its about how we played right?so you prefer us having 28 shots on target and loosing a match, kidding bro? Cut it, the hallmark of a great team is winning while playing badly, and not like we were that bad, if Alexis had his scoring boots on, we will be out of sight @ 1st half,not like he ever had it on though, if you wana be witnessing top class performance every week,with goals galore, bro kindly play FIFA 13 on easy mode,you will be fine, and I wonder what your comments where about after 6–1 demolition of getafe last week.PEACE! ViscaElBarca

  11. I don’t get it when after winning a game via MESSI’s goals, we suddenly become messi-dependent, chill out guys, Leo didn’t dribble eleven players, his first goal came off his awareness to react to a 1st time cesc shot, 2nd goal was from a foul on thiago,although a wonderful freekick,are you people indirectly wishing he gets injured,so nobody will save us when we need him badly,I knew many of yu who went into a white fasting after his injury scare vs benfica, please,not like he’s some sort of mercenary who is on rentage, he’s our player and he’s getting paid for what he’s doing, so why the lamentations of jeremiah, at least,he’s still ours and he’s doing what he does best, we know granada is not great, but the same team shocked EE two weeks ago, so relax and enjoy the hard-earned victory

Comments are closed.