Granada vs Real Madrid
The La Liga title is so close, Los Blancos can almost taste it.
Even the first of the obituaries for Barcelona and their manager Quique Setien have been written as the football media expects Real Madrid to dethrone Barca as Spanish champions.
Yet, it’s always a dangerous game to predict the outcome of a title race between the two giants of Spain.
Few are surprised that Real have been able to turn on the style since football restarted following the coronavirus pandemic. What has surprised many, however, is that Barcelona have dropped six points to leave Real with a four-point advantage at the summit with just three games remaining.
It means they can even afford to lose this game against the early-season surprise package and still remain in control of their own destiny.
Boss Zinedine Zidane knows his side should win their first league title for three years from this position and is too shrewd and experienced a campaigner to allow complacency to set in.
He also knows the squad he manages is not as talented as the one he guided to three successive Champions League victories from 2016 to 2018.
With that in mind, he will give full respect to Granada as their title dream moves ever closer.
There’s no question Real have had some breaks in recent weeks with Sergio Ramos living up to his role as the pantomime villain (for rivals) by netting successive match-winning penalties in narrow contests.
However, there has been nothing fortuitous about eight straight league victories since the restart.
Their most recent success, against Alaves on Friday night, also had to be overcome with defensive absentees.
Due to the season-ending injury to Marcelo, Ferland Mendy returned to the left-back position, while the suspensions of Dani Carvajal and Ramos paved the way for Eder Militao to pair with Raphael Varane at centre-back.
That didn’t stop them producing more attacking La Liga highlights but the spine of the side is contributing just as much to their recent form.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois hasn’t conceded in 457 minutes of football and is just 78 minutes away from a record that was set by himself (535 minutes).
In 2014, Courtois was one of the stars of city rivals Atletico Madrid’s title triumph which featured 20 clean sheets.
This season he has only let in 18 goals and earned 18 clean sheets, statistics that have played a big part in Real’s form.
That plans are afoot for a Real celebration is understandable but is something which would be embarrassing and come back to haunt them if they fail to finish off the job in the next week.
I cannot see that happening and expect a continuation of their fine form in this fixture. Real have won 12 of their last 13 meetings, with Granada’s only win coming way back in 2013.
When they met earlier this season, newly promoted Granada were flying high, including a five-match unbeaten run which featured one of the shocks of the season – a 2-0 home success over champions Barcelona.
They promptly put up a spirited display in going down to a 4-2 defeat.
Madrid have actually won their last nine matches against Granada with clean sheets in six of those games. Indeed, Real have won all six matches at the Bernabeu by an astounding scoreline of 29-4. That includes a 9-1 hammering back in 2015, which saw Cristiano Ronaldo score a hat-trick in just eight minutes en route to his first-ever five-goal game.
They last met back in the 2016-17 season, with Real also winning by an aggregate score of 9-0 — 5-0 at home with a brace from Isco and goals from Karim Benzema, Ronaldo and Casemiro sealing the win, as well as a 4-0 away success.
Granada’s only ever win at the Bernabeu was in 1974.
|Granada vs Real Madrid||First Half 1X2 Real Madrid @ 2.13|
|July 14, 04:00 (GMT+8)|
You can’t rule Granada out. Their European hopes are still very much alive after a superb 3-2 win at Real Sociedad on Friday night took them within a point of seventh spot which holds a Europa League berth for 2020-21.
How can you bet against another Real win, though, when they are so close to regaining the league title from their arch rivals Barca?
I’m not going to be so bold as to predict a repeat of the free-scoring clash from earlier this term, although correct score 2-4 would earn you a pay day of @ 50.00.
Some may go as far as tipping Granada to get a draw @ 4.00; others may opt for a shock to keep the title race alive with the home side available to back 1X2 @ 6.80 or Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 2.13.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:|
|= €20 (Highly confident)||= €10 (CONFIDENT)||= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)|
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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