Granada vs Barcelona: Andalusians seek to topple Barça for third consecutive win
Getty Images/Aitor Alcalde

Granada vs Barcelona: Andalusians seek to topple Barça for third consecutive win

Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona will make the 890km trip to face Granada on Saturday evening

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Thomas Hay

Newly promoted Granada will be hoping to maintain their recent run of form against a Barcelona squad which is likely to include both Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi. The teams sit side by side in the La Liga table, with Barça edging ahead on goal difference after big wins at home against Real Betis and Valencia. 

Granada will go into Saturday's game at the Nuevo Estadio de los Cármenes on the back of two straight away wins against Espanyol and Celta Vigo. They may well fancy their chances against Barcelona, who at times rode their luck against Borussia Dortmund in midweek to escape with a hard-fought 0-0 draw.

The Catalans' rather jittery start to the season could be attributed to the absence of several key players. Luis Suárez was judged fit enough to return last week against Valencia, scoring twice after coming on as a substitute for the impressive Ansu Fati. Having played the full 90 minutes against Dortmund on Tuesday, Suárez is more than likely to feature in Ernesto Valverde's starting XI in Andalusia.

Whether or not Messi will start this one is unclear. The Argentinian made his first competitive appearance of the season on Tuesday, coming on as a substitute for Fati with 30 minutes remaining in Germany. Valverde could choose to rest Messi again this weekend, with either Fati or Carles Pérez joining Suárez and Antoine Griezmann up front for the Azulgrana. 

Key players
 

Frenkie De Jong was an integral part of Barça's resounding 5-2 victory over Valencia last week, setting up Fati for the opening goal and combining again with the youngster to put the home side 2-0 up in under 10 minutes. Despite only arriving in the summer, De Jong already appears to have a great understanding of how those around him play, and his partnership with Arthur in midfield is another feature of Barça's play that Granada will have to watch out for. 

Granada have not been without their own injuries at this early stage of the season. Quini Marín and Fede Vico have both been ruled out of the Saturday's game with mid to long-term problems, while Neyder Lozano, Alex Martínez and Yan Brice Eteki remain doubts ahead of the match. Last weekend's goalscorers Germán Sánchez and Roberto Soldado remain fit, and their performance will be key if Diego Martinez's side are to take anything from the champions. 

"We have a belief than anything can happen" - Martínez

Granada are less likely to dominate play quite as they did against 9-man Celta last weekend. Despite heading into this fixture level on points with the Catalans, Martínez was quick to point out the gulf in class that exists between the two sides.

"A lot of things mark the difference between Granada and Barcelona, we both belong to very different universes," Martinez explained to the press on Friday morning. However, he does believe that his team are capable of digging a result out of this game.

"I visualise the match in a positive way. I can see us winning, although I'm aware of the difficulties that come with facing one of the best teams in the world." 

"We're going to have to work a lot, run very hard and squeeze as much as we can out of ourselves, but we have a belief that anything can happen."

Predicted Line Ups

Granada CF: Rui Silva, İsmail Köybaşı, Víctor Díaz, Domingos Duarte, Germán Sánchez, Yangel Herrera, Ángel Montoro, J. A. R. Díaz, Álvaro Vadillo, Ramón Azeez, Roberto Soldado

FC Barcelona: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Nelson Semedo, Gerard Piqué, Clément Lenglet, Junior Firpo, Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets, Arthur Melo, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suárez, Ansu Fati

 

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