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On Monday at 9.00pm CEST, FC Barcelona have their first Liga fixture for three weeks, and it’s at home to a side that picked up an unexpected victory at Camp Nou earlier on in 2021. Time for a closer look at Granada, who are winless so far in La Liga 2021/22.
With a population of around 470,000 people, the beautiful Andalusian city of Granada sits beneath the Sierra Nevada, about an hour by car from the Mediterranean coast, and is a popular destination for students and tourists alike. Its most famous monument is the Alhambra, an Arab citadel and palace.
Granada Club de Fútbol was founded in 1931, and its greatest achievement was reaching the cup final in 1959, which it lost 4-1 to Barça. But towards the end of the century, the club declined, and when Granada finally won promotion back into La Liga in 2011, it was their first appearance in the top flight for 35 years.
The season before last the Nazaríes (the nickname comes from the Moorish dynasty that ruled Granada in the Middle Ages) finished 7th, their best position since 1974, and the prize was qualification for Europe for the first time in club history. The marched all the way to the quarter finals of the Europa League, eventually going out to Manchester United.
Head to head
Barça had suffered the very occasional reverse at Granada’s Los Cármenes ground over the years, but they had a 100 per cent record against them at Camp Nou. The Andalusians had never even managed a draw.
All that changed when despite leading 1-0 through Leo Messi in April of this year, second half goals from Machís and Molina earned Granada a shock 2-1 win in the Barça stadium, a result that practically ended all hope of a blaugrana league title.
The teams also met in a dramatic Copa del Rey quarter final earlier this year. Granada were heading for a 2-0 victory when two extremely late goals from Griezmann and Jordi Alba nicked a draw to send the game into extra time. There were still four more goals to comes, as Barça ended up winning 5-3.
Granada spent all of last season threatening to qualify for Europe once again, but eventually had to settle for ninth place in La Liga.
They began the current season promisingly enough with draws against Villarreal and Valencia, but they followed that with a hefty 4-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano and then lost 2-1 at home to Real Betis. Just two of a possible 12 points means they are languishing in seventeenth place in the table.
As well as several loanees returning to their main clubs, Granada have also lost goalkeeper Rui Silva to Betis and striker Roberto Soldado to Levante. New acquisitions have included Peruvian international defender Luis Abram, experienced Colombian striker Carlos Bacca (formerly of Sevilla, AC Milan and Villarreal), and Monchu on a free transfer from Barça B.
Players with international caps
Carlos Bacca (Colombia, 52), Luis Abram (Peru, 27), Darwin Machís (Venezuela, 27), Maxime Gonalons (France, 8), Ramon Azeez (Nigeria, 6), Dimitri Foulquier (Guadeloupe, 2), Luis Suarez (Colombia, 1), Yan Eteki (Cameroon, 2), Domingos Duarte (Portugal, 3)
Top goalscorers 2020/21 (all competitions)
Jorge Molina (15), Roberto Soldado (14, now Levante), Darwin Machís (9), Yangel Herrera (8, now Espanyol), Kenedy (8, now Flamengo), Luis Suárez (7)
Midfielder Ramón Rodríguez, known as Monchu (pictured below) was a La Masia resident for the best part of a decade and played 63 games for Barça B. He made his first team debut against Napoli in the Champions League, but spent last season on loan to Girona before going to Granada on a free transfer last July.
Midfielder Luis Milla shares his name with his father, who was a product of the Barça youth system and played 54 games for the first team before leaving for Real Madrid in 1990.
Rather than being a former player, Robert Moreno first started coaching when he just 14! After managing a number of teams in his native Catalonia, he caught the interest of Luis Enrique, who used him as an assistant at a number of clubs, including Roma, Celta and, of course, FC Barcelona, as well as the Spanish national team. Moreno first went it alone as manager at Monaco and then accepted the offer of the Granada job ready for the current season.
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