Real Madrid could temporarily go to the top of La Liga standings when they lock horns with Granada at Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes this weekend.

Real Madrid will have their sights set on the top spot in La Liga table when they travel to Los Carmenes to face off against Granada in Matchweek 14 on Sunday afternoon.

Real Madrid are currently third in the standings, with 27 points from 12 games. Carlo Ancelotti’s men are a point shy of leaders Real Sociedad and Sevilla. They can overtake them with a win on Sunday, at least temporarily, considering that La Real won’t be in action until later in the day while Sevilla have already played out a 2-2 draw against Alaves on Saturday. 

Los Blancos are unbeaten in their last four La Liga encounters, most recently beating Rayo Vallecano 2-1 and will be hoping to extend that streak this weekend.

Granada have not made the best of starts to the new season and are languishing in the 17th place in the table, having won just two of their 12 matches. Ahead of 18th-placed Elche only on goal difference, Robert Moreno’s men need to start racking up points if they are to pull away from the drop zone. They have shown signs of resurgence, losing just one in their last five games. But it will be easier said than done against the title contenders.

The corresponding fixture last season, played in May earlier this year, ended in a 4-1 win for Real Madrid, with Luka Modric, Rodrygo Goes, Alvaro Odriozola and Karim Benzema finding the back of the net. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday afternoon, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Granada

Domingos Duarte remains unavailable for selection for Granada until next month. In addition, Luis Milla and Isma Ruiz are doubts for the contest, as Robert Moreno prepares his team for the visit of Real Madrid. The hosts ought to line up in a traditional 4-4-2 setup with two blocks of four shielding the goalkeeper as they look to stay compact and disciplined while looking to hurt their opponents on the break.

Luis Maximiano will be manning the goal for Granada. He will be protected by the defensive line consisting of Quini and Carlos Neva as the full-backs, flanking the centre-back pairing of German Sanchez and captain Victor Diaz.

Maxime Gonalons will hold down the fort in the middle of the park with support coming from on-loan Barcelona youngster, Monchu. The pair will largely stay behind the ball and look to negate the influence of their Real Madrid counterparts in Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. 

Ruben Rochina and Alberto Soro should line up on the flanks for Granada, with the pair set to be key in creating chances for the team by utilising their pace on the counter. They will act as the supply-line of chances for the two-pronged strikeforce of Luis Suarez and Jorge Molina, who has a decent record against Real Madrid.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Maximiano; Quini, Diaz, Sanchez, Neva; Rochina, Monchu, Gonalons, Soro; Molina, Suarez

Real Madrid

Real Madrid will be without Eden Hazard again, with the Belgian ruled out due to an illness. Gareth Bale also misses out after picking up a fresh injury while away on international duty with Wales. There is some good news, though, as Rodrygo Goes is back in contention after recovering from his fitness problem, while Federico Valverde is also closing in on a return.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men will be lining up in a 4-3-3 formation in front of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Likely to dominate possession on the afternoon, they will need their midfielders to be at their creative best to pick apart the hosts’ defence, while the marauding full-backs will also have a key role to play with regard to chance-creation for the visitors.

Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy should have a lot of freedom to push forward, but they will need to produce quality final balls if they are to hurt their hosts. Eder Militao and David Alaba have been reliable at the heart of the defence but will have their task cut out against the physical duo of Suarez and Molina.

Casemiro will slot in as the deepest of the three midfielders for the visiting side and look to cut out any counter-attacking opportunities for Granada while recycling possession quickly and efficiently. The majority of the creative onus will fall on the shoulders of the veteran midfield duo of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

The fit-again Rodrygo will be pushing for a start on the right-wing, but Lucas Vazquez is likely to get the nod on Sunday. Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior are undisputed starters in the remaining two attacking slots for Real Madrid.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Vazquez, Benzema, Vinicius

Key Stats

  • Real Madrid have won their last 12 La Liga games against Granada. They have scored 40 goals during this run.
  • Granada have won only one of their previous 12 home La Liga matches against Real Madrid (D2 L9) – way back in February 2013.
  • Real Madrid have lost only one of their last 21 away La Liga games (W14 D6) – a 1-2 defeat to Espanyol earlier this season.
  • Granada star Jorge Molina has scored six goals in 15 La Liga appearances against Real Madrid, including one in his last game at Los Carmenes against Los Blancos in May earlier this year.
  • Carlo Ancelotti has won 100 of his 135 games in all competitions as Real Madrid manager (D17 L18). Only Jose Mourinho (133) needed fewer games to reach 100 wins in the club’s history.

Player to Watch

Karim Benzema

The French striker has been the go-to man for Real Madrid this season, stepping up and delivering the goods in the final third consistently. Indeed, in just 15 matches across all competitions, Benzema has already found the back of the net on eight occasions while also creating eight goals for his teammates. 

The 33-year-old’s strike was once again pivotal in Real Madrid bagging a win against Rayo Vallecano last time out. Ancelotti & co. will be hoping for more of the same from their in-form superstar at Los Carmenes as they look to take the top spot in the La Liga table.

Prediction

Granada 0-2 Real Madrid

Granada had displayed some fight before the international break even though they lost to Espanyol in their most recent fixture. However, they will be coming up against a Real Madrid team that are in the frame for the title and have shown great resilience and strength to carve out results even at times when things aren’t going their way.

The form Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior are in, coupled with Los Blancos‘ record against Granada, makes them the overwhelming favourites to grab all three points on Sunday afternoon. The Hard Tackle predicts a straightforward win for the visitors at Los Carmenes, catapulting them to the top of the table, even if it may be temporary.

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