La Liga: Real Madrid eager to make amends against Valencia, Barcelona travel to Granada
After a short Christmas break, La Liga is back in full swing. There were some cracking matches last weekend, and Real Madrid’s defeat by Getafe certainly raised some eyebrows. We have two crunch games to look forward to this weekend — Granada v Barcelona, and Real Madrid v Valencia. We will also see how the latest match odds are shaping up.
Xavi continues to steady the ship at Barcelona
Before Xavi took over the reins at the Nou Camp, Barcelona were insipid and lacked an identity on the pitch. However, Xavi has rejuvenated the Catalan giants, who are now looking up the table, and they are trending in the right direction. A 1-0 win over Mallorca last weekend lifted them up to fifth in La Liga.
A Luuk de Jong strike just before the half-time interval proved to be the difference between the two sides. The Dutchman was the best player on the pitch for Barca, who were down to the bare bones as they had 14 men out due to a combination of injuries, COVID-19, and suspensions.
Barcelona officially unveil Ferran Torres after clinching deal
Ferran Torres became the first January signing for Barcelona, and it is a statement of intent. After being introduced to the crowd, Torres did his customary kick-ups, and Barca president Joan Laporta fielded questions from the media. He was unequivocal in his joy of bringing Torres to Barca from Manchester City. He said: “The signing of Ferran Torres is a spectacular one.”
Granada not out of the woods yet
Granada may have picked up some form of late, as they are undefeated in their past five La Liga outings. They have a seven-point buffer between themselves and the drop zone, but things can quickly change. Defeat to Barcelona could see them start to look nervously over their shoulders.
Granada v Barcelona: A tale of past encounters
Although Barca have been far from their imperious best for large chunks of the season, Granada will still face a stern test. While the two sides shared the spoils at the Nou Camp back in September, Barcelona were 4-0 winners on their last visit to Granada a year ago. Granada can’t cave in like they did that day.
Real Madrid’s title charge dented by Getafe
At times, Real Madrid have been adorning the cloak of invincibility. It did seem as if their title march would be a procession. However, they tasted their second defeat of this La Liga season when they were stunned 1-0 by strugglers Getafe last weekend.
An Enes Unal strike in the ninth minute provided three precious points for Getafe. Real had dominated possession, and they spurned a series of presentable chances. Luka Modric went close to rescuing a point, but his powerful strike cannoned back off the crossbar. Nevertheless, Real are still eight points clear at the top of the table, so the Getafe defeat is a minor blip.
Meanwhile, Valencia harbour European ambitions of their own. Currently, they sit in eighth spot, two points adrift of Rayo Vallecano. They seemed to have turned a corner in the past couple of months, with just one defeat in their past eight La Liga outings. Real have been warned!
Real Madrid v Valencia: Unlocking the vault on past clashes
Real Madrid will relish making amends for their loss to Getafe, and they will be going into their game against Valencia with fire in their bellies. They have won their last two matches in La Liga against Valencia. In their previous encounter, Real Madrid won 2-1 at the Mestalla. After going behind in the 66th minute, Los Blancos enjoyed a dramatic victory.
Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema struck in the last four minutes of the game. Once again, you imagine both these players will have a big say in the outcome on Saturday evening. Benzema has plundered 15 goals this season, while Vinicus Jr has 10 goals to his name. Overall, Benzema has had more goal involvements (22) than the Brazilian, as he has supplied more assists.
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