Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Prediction: Barcelona vs Granada

Verdict: Barcelona win by three or more goals

Best odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: Betfair

The battle for Champions League qualification through table positions in La Liga is over, with Real Sociedad, sitting fifth, now unable to catch up with Sevilla in fourth. However, the race for the title is still wide open, and Barcelona will look to improve their chances when they host Granada at the Camp Nou on Thursday evening.

Barcelona

Having already triumphed in the Copa del Rey by beating Athletic Bilbao in the final, the Catalans are now looking to add another trophy in a season which for a long time looked destined to be labelled unsuccessful. They gap to Atletico Madrid at the top seemed far too big, and the feelings of failure multiplied when Paris Saint-Germain knocked them out of the Champions League in the round of 16.

Now, however, Barcelona sit in third place, a point above Sevilla, equal to Real Madrid in second, and only two points behind Atletico, with a game in hand on all of the teams in contention for the trophy.

Ronald Koeman’s team won five of the last six league outings, losing only to Real at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium earlier this month by 2-1. They beat Huesca at home by 4-1, Real Sociedad away by 1-6, Valladolid at home by 1-0, Getafe at home by 5-2, and Villarreal away by 1-2 on Sunday.

Barcelona saw a change in the club presidency this term with Joan Laporta returning to the role to replace Josep Maria Bartomeu, but they’re still sweating on the future of club icon Lionel Messi, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season as things stand.

Team News

Midfielder Philippe Coutinho, winger Ansu Fati and forward Martin Braithwaite remain absent for Barcelona, but other than that, Koeman has no injury worries.

Koeman is likely to name the same lineup as he did against Villarreal, but there could be a question mark over right-back Sergino Dest, who was replaced at halftime in that match. Sergi Roberto could step in, if need be.

Granada

Having finished seventh last season and qualified for the Europa League, Granada successfully passed through the group stages and edged out Molde in the round of 16, but they were eventually knocked out by Manchester United in the quarterfinals.

And doesn’t look very likely they’ll be able to play in Europe again next term. At the moment, they are eight, seven points behind Villarreal in seventh and Sociedad in sixth, and like Barcelona, they have a game in hand on the teams near them. A win at the Camp Nou would certainly put them right back into contention, but realistically, they won’t be expecting to take anything from that encounter.

Granada won three and lost three of the last six matches in the league, displaying what you could describe as patchy form. They beat Sociedad at home by 1-0, lost away to Valencia by 2-1, lost at home to Villarreal by 0-3, beat Valladolid away by 1-2, smashed Eibar at home by 4-1, and lost 2-1 away to Sevilla.

Team News

Unlike Koeman, Granada boss Diego Martinez has a number of injury absences to compensate for. Goalkeeper Rui Silva, as well as defenders German Sanchez, Jesus Vallejo and Carlos Neva, are all expected to miss out, as are defender Domingos Duarte and midfielder Luis Milla.

To make matters worse, striker Antonio Puertas and midfielder Angel Montoro are suspended.

Martinez obviously doesn’t have a lot of options. Aaron Escandell is expected to stand between the posts in the absence of Silva, while Puertas’s place upfront is likely to be taken by Darwin Machis.

Conclusion

It’s hard to imagine, with all due respect to Granada, anything at their disposal stopping Barcelona from charging to the top of the table in this game. The visitors will consider themselves lucky if they lose by three goals or less.

Verdict: Barcelona win by three or more goals

Best odds: 11/10

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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