El Centrocampista

Win the Battles, Win the War – Granada get ready for the survival fight


As the quest for permanence in Liga BBVA sees Granada CF travel to Mallorca this weekend, an objective of nine points from their remaining seven games, is the target set. Whilst some might question the logic of focusing on particular “key” matches, rather than looking to gain points from every encounter, in recent weeks those “key” matches highlighted a few weeks ago by manager Abel Resino, have so far been won.

When taking on the job in January, Abel Resino made it clear that the record of beating some of the bigger clubs, especially away from home, whilst dropping points to direct rivals in the lower half of the table, was somewhat “abnormal”. Winning key battles along the way, in his opinion, would be crucial to winning the war for survival.

In the last four games, Granada have beaten two of those direct rivals. Vital wins were gained over Sporting Gijón and Racing Santander, with defeats in between against Barcelona and Sevilla. Two games where points would be a bonus, but ultimately could be sacrificed.

The defeat against Barcelona hardly raised any eyebrows, but Granada managing to score three against the Catalan giants for the first time in their history at Camp Nou, certainly did. By stark contrast, a failure to take advantage of numerous chances early in the game, saw Granada given a harsh lesson in finishing, by a much more clinical Sevilla side. Even with Abel Resino encouraging a more creative approach that has lead to Granada producing much more chances in games, the spectre of an inability to convert them, has sometimes haunted him as much as it did for his predecessor.

The trip to Mallorca this weekend is another of the “key” games the manager highlighted, where nothing less than three points will be enough to keep the effort to avoid relegation, firmly in their own hands, before they host Athletic Club Bilbao, the conquerors of Manchester United. Whilst Athletic have performed exceptionally in Europe, their lack of league consistency sees them sat in a somewhat disappointing 11th position. At the moment though, anything from this tie would be regarded as a bonus for Granada.

With Real Zaragoza having enjoyed a resurgence of late and three consecutive wins, they look to be in a much stronger vein of form than Racing Santander and Sporting Gijón, in the fight for survival. Their task in the next two games to maintain that momentum may be difficult, as they host Barcelona this weekend, before making the trip south to Sevilla.

Granada will be keeping one eye on those matches, but irrespective of the outcome of matches for both clubs over the next seven days, the following weekend sees them face one another. The game at La Romareda on Sunday 15 April could very much shape the destiny of both clubs – and both will regard the encounter as a battle that must be won.

Aside from the relegation battles, Granada suffered a setback after goalkeeper Roberto suffered a relapse of the herniated disc injury that has plagued him since October. Club doctor Antonio Fernández suggested that unlike the last match against Racing Santander, it is highly unlikely Roberto will be able to play through the pain barrier and talismanic keeper may need an operation. This would need to be done sooner rather than later, which would put him out for the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, on loan defender Borja Gómez looks set to stay at Granada. Signed initially on loan from Ukranian side Karpaty Lviv, impressive individual performances have prompted Granada to take up their €800,000 option to make the move permanent.

Club president Quique Pina has also revealed that “at the request of Carlos Martins”, the club are in advanced talks with the player and Benfica, to seal a permanent move for the Portuguese international. Carlos Martins had earlier in the week stated that he would be more than happy to “stay for few years”, having being overwhelmed at times by the strength of the support he’s received, whilst his young son battles illness.

Whilst the player himself seems keen to stay, one potential stumbling block could be the option to buy clause in his loan contract, previously reported to be around €6,000,000. Although a vital player for Granada this season, it’s difficult to see the club paying such a large fee for a player who reaches the age of 30 at the end of the month. Some hard negotiating will certainly lie ahead, as the Granada president will almost certainly look to reduce the clause valuation.

Additional hurdles to overcome during negotiations, may come from two factors. Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has previously suggested his preference would be for Martins to return to his club, at the end of the season. Also, whilst Granada president suggests rumours are “uncertain”, there is apparently interest from Real Betis, who it is suggested, have also made approaches.

Finally, Quique Pina spoke about the longer term future of manager Abel Resino. Whilst at first suggesting that any contract extension for the manager will be fully addressed “at the moment the club stays in the Primera”, he did add that he was “very pleased” with Resino “in all senses”.


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