Match Preview: Granada vs Barcelona, Copa del Rey quarter-finals

On the back of a dominant display against Athletic Club Bilbao, Barcelona will seek to reclaim the Copa Del Rey title as they travel to Granada for the quarter-finals of the competition.


Date and Kickoff Time: 3rd February 2021; 21:00 CET
Stadium: Nuevo Los Cármenes
Competition: Copa Del Rey

Overview

The last time Fútbol Club Barcelona and Club de Futbol Granada faced off, Ronald Koeman’s side pulled the rug from right under Los Nazaríes feet, beating them by four goals to nil in a dominant performance away from home. Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, each with a brace, sealed the victory and all three points for the Catalan giants.

Heading into tomorrow night’s game, both sides find themselves in similar circumstances. On the one hand, Barcelona wrapped up January with their eighth victory in nine games, and this too by taking revenge on Athletic Club Bilbao for their defeat in the Spanish Super Cup.

Griezmann put up an absolute show against Granada the last time out. (Photo via Getty)

With this win, they climbed to second on the table, a phenomenal return given just two months prior they sat fourteenth on the log, seeming more like relegation candidates than they were title contenders. Tomorrow night the Blaugrana embark on their quest to reclaim the Copa Del Rey, and they do so against a side whose best King’s Cup finish was in the semifinals of the previous edition.

Ever since their pummeling at the hands of the Garnet and blue in early January, Diego Martinez’ side’s performances have been rather questionable to say the least. They immediately bounced back from the defeat with a victory against Osasuna, following it up with their elimination of Malaga from the Copa Del Rey. In a shocking turn of events, they went winless in their three subsequent La Liga outings, losing the reverse fixture against Osasuna by 1-3 at El Sadar.

What to expect from Barcelona?

Finally back to familiar territory near the helm of La Liga, Barcelona have begun the second half of the campaign on full throttle. They overcame Athletic Club at the Camp Nou by virtue of a petrifyingly dominant display against Los Leones. The victory took them to second on the log, tied on points with defending champions Real Madrid, though they hold the advantage of goal difference. As per expected statistics, Barcelona have the best performing attack, at 46xG, and the strongest defence, at ~22xGA. In contrast to their points tally on the table, Barcelona top the log as per expected points, thanks largely to Atlético de Madrid’s otherworldly level of overperformance.

The tie against Athletic saw a return to the infamous 4-2-3-1. Much to the fans’ content, this did nothing to alter their dominance in their tie against their Basque counterparts, as a collective masterclass from Ronald Koeman’s side brought them all three points. Right now, the context changes, and it’s a lose or go home situation for the Catalans, begging the question, who will start?

Starting with the goal, given the fact that Marc André Ter Stegen took back his spot from Neto Murara over the weekend, his Brazilian counterpart is almost certain to take back ownership of the gloves in this midweek tie.

Ronald Araújo is another definite pick for the centre-back position, as his last twelve successive games have seen rack up some staggeringly brilliant displays, signing his status as an untouchable in Koeman’s system. More often than not the left centre-back spot is a cause of controversy between Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet. However, given the form he has displayed of late, form that began against Granada, it is the former who should start.

Now back from injury, Sergi Roberto will probably take back the reigns from Oscar Mingueza, giving him some much-needed rest, with Jordi Alba occupying the left-back spot despite the own goal.

Roberto is expected to make his first start in over two months. (Photo via Imago)

The midfield is rarely ever a cause of concern, as a majority of those available, either as starters or as rotational players, show extreme dexterity in their craft. Now back from his suspension from the game against Athletic Club, Sergio Busquets takes back in his role from Miralem Pjanic, and Frenkie de Jong, arguably Barcelona’s best player in recent weeks, maintaining his free role in the side.

With chances coming more and more as time passes, Ronald Koeman might be tempted to start Riqui Puig in place of Pedri González, not only because it’s a Copa Del Rey tie, but also because his last outing against the Andalusians was a picture-perfect cameo performance.

The attack does raise a few questions, however, Ronald Koeman is most likely to start an attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé. Both Frenchmen had a sensational performance in the attack against Los Leones, with Antoine Griezmann scoring a brace, however, given the severity of the tie, Koeman could also be pushed into playing one of Martin Braithwaite or Francisco Trincão.

What to expect from Granada?

Still, in a zone of relative familiarity in midtable in La Liga, Granada have begun the second half of the campaign in a rather questionable manner. They kicked off the new year with consecutive defeats against Eibar and Barcelona respectively, gained some momentum in the week that followed, however, lost it all once more and are currently in a three-game winless run with just two points from a possible nine.

As per expected statistics, Granada have the ninth-worst attack I’m the division, at just 22 expected goals from 21 games, and the second-worst performing defence, at a whopping 33.7xGA. In contrast to their points tally on the table, Granada are seventeenth on the log as per expected points and assuming they keep on performing as they are, they might be in course for a mighty collapse.

Diego Martínez’ Granada is a team built for resilience at home. In fact, such is their relative dependence on their performances in the Nuevo Los Carmenes, that they’ve won 21 of their 29 league points from there. They’ve recorded six wins from eleven, with three draws and just the two defeats, one of which was shockingly against Real Valladolid in a 1-3 loss.

El Grana often take up a few shapes. Their most common formation is a 4·2·3·1, followed up closely with a 4·1·4·1. The common denominator here is width, and for this, they rely on the likes of Antonio Puertas and Darwin Machis to provide it. They tend to attack down the right-wing, with 43{3851c0879557ceb6c70cddb6630c7df9a9750acfd53fffec21979e603af26faa} of their attacks being played down that flank. They aren’t that big on possession, as they average a mere 44.6{3851c0879557ceb6c70cddb6630c7df9a9750acfd53fffec21979e603af26faa} ball retention in games and with — just — a 70{3851c0879557ceb6c70cddb6630c7df9a9750acfd53fffec21979e603af26faa} pass success rate across the board.

Granada show several weaknesses across the board, one of these coming in their inability to adequately defend against set-piece chances, with 33{3851c0879557ceb6c70cddb6630c7df9a9750acfd53fffec21979e603af26faa} of their goals at home thus far coming from just that. They also get attacked quite often at almost identical rates down the wings to they do.

Player to Watch

Darwin Machis

Barcelona will have to tame Machis. (Photo via Getty)

Darwin Machis has been Granada’s standout player this season. Such is his dexterity in versatility and overall reliability in his manager’s eyes, that among forwards, he is the individual with the second-most minutes in his side.

He is Granada’s most creative player, averaging 0.22 Expected Assists per 90, and among forwards, he is their third most offensive player. He can occupy a multitude of roles, including, but not limited to both wings and the midfield, and given his sheer unpredictability, Barcelona better watch out lest they get punished by him.

Form

Granada

Previous games: DWLDW

Granada 0-0 Celta | La Liga
Navalcarnero 0-6 Granada | Copa Del Rey
Osasuna 3-1 Granada | La Liga
Villarreal 2-2 Granada | La Liga
Málaga 1-2 Granada | Copa del Rey

Position in La Liga

8th
29 points in 21 games
8 win, 5 draws, 8 losses
24 goals scored, 34 goals conceded
-10 goal difference

FC Barcelona

Previous games: WWWWL

Barcelona 2-1 Athletic Club | La Liga
Rayo Vallecano 1-2 Barcelona | Copa Del Rey
Elche 0-2 Barcelona | La Liga
Cornellá 0-2 Barcelona | Copa Del Rey
Athletic Club 3-2 Barcelona | Supercopa España

Position in La Liga

Barcelona

2nd
40 points in 20 games
12 wins, 4 draws, and 4 losses
41 Goals scored, 18 Goals conceded
+23 Goal Difference

Head-to-Head Record

Granada 0-4 Barcelona | La Liga 2020/21
Barcelona 1-0 Granada | La Liga 2019/20
Granada 2-0 Barcelona | La Liga 2019/20
Granada 0-3 Barcelona | La Liga 2015/16
Barcelona 4-0 Granada | La Liga 2015/16

Match facts

  • Barcelona are on a 10 game unbeaten run in La Liga.
  • Barcelona has not lost against Granada since 2019.
  • Granada are winless in 3 games in a row this season.

Team News

FC Barcelona

Absences

Injured: Gerard Pique (knee), Ansu Fati (knee), Philippe Coutinho (knee)
Dropped: Matheus Fernandes, Junior Firpo

Possible line-up

4-3-3

Neto
Roberto · Araújo · Umtiti · Alba
de Jong · Busquets · Riqui
Dembélé · Messi · Griezmann

Coach: Ronald Koeman

Granada

Absences

Injured: Maxime Gonalons

Possible line up

4-2-3-1:

Silva
Folquier · Duarte · Vallejo · Neva
Montoro · Herrera
Machis · Vico · Kenedy
Suárez

Coach: Diego Martínez

Prediction

Barcelona are on their best run of form for almost a year and have the most offensive setup in the entire division. They are coming up against La Liga’s worst defence, as well as the team with some of the least intense pressing in Spain. Given all these factors, chances are that Barcelona will overcome their opponents, and by quite a margin too given their form, they’re in.

Barca Universal Prediction: Granada 0-3 Barcelona

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