Athletic Club - Granada preview; Home side aiming for a win against a struggling Granada

Athletic Club welcome Granada to San Mames for an early Sunday morning match, Athletic will want the three points to push for a Europa League spot whilst Granada are close to the relegation zone.

Athletic Club - Granada preview; Home side aiming for a win against a struggling Granada
Raul Garcia (Getty Images)

Last time both clubs met, Granada picked up the win against Athletic Club in a 2-0 win at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes. The home side took an early lead through an Aymeric Laporte own goal,  followed by the killer goal through Isaac Success on the 60th minute to pick up all three points. Athletic Club’s five win run in all competitions was ended by Granada.

Form

Athletic Club have had a decent run in the last month with their only main defeat coming to Espanyol which was the last game before the international break. They did lose to Valencia in the Europe League second leg, but the Basque side managed to pick up the away goal at the Mestalla to qualify for the next round. The gap from seventh place to fifth is only a point, Athletic will be expecting to pounce if Celta Vigo and Sevilla drop points this weekend.

Athletic’s top goal scorer Aritz Aduriz will be the key player to look out for, the Spaniard has 17 goals and five assists this season. He has also picked up five Man of the Match awards during the 2015/16 campaign and will be looking to continue his goal scoring record this weekend. He has been a vital player for the Basque side for the past few years.

Granada have been very poor this season, only managing seven wins in 30 league matches. They have also struggled for goals this year, managing just 32 goals and have conceded 56 goals. Granada haven’t really been on a good form at any time, but recently they have picked up eight points out of 15 which is a small sign of improvement for a team battling for survival.

Key player to look out for from the Granada side is Youssef El-Arabi, the Moroccan international is the club’s top goal scorer this season with ten goals. The struggling side will have to expect the attacker to be on his best form, if they stand a chance of picking up a draw or win at the San Mames on the weekend. It will be a tough game without Isaac Success who has been an important player from time to time.

El-Arabi (Getty Images)
El-Arabi (Getty Images)

Team News

Jose Gonazalez’s side could change their formation around due to a few injuries, forward Isaac Success is suspended for the game against Athletic. Defender Miguel Lopes and midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure are back in training but their status for the game is uncertain. Robert Ibanez who picked up a stomach problem few days ago is a big doubt. Meanwhile Diego Mainz will definitely miss the match, the defender should return very soon for the away side though.

Granada’s predicted line-up: Fernandez, Foulquier, Babin, Lomban, Biraghi, Perez, Krhin, Marquez, Rochina, Penaranda, El-Arabi.

Ernesto Valverde’s side will be expected to play in 4-2-3-1 formation, key player Aymeric Laporte will be out for the remainder of the season after he sustained a broken leg whilst on international duty. Sabin Merino and Inigo Lekue will return to the Athletic squad and will be available for the game on the weekend. Iker Muniain who was out with a muscle injury, has returned to training but won’t be fully ready for the Granada match.

Athletic Club’s predicted line-up (4-2-3-1): Iraizoz, De Marcos, Etxeita, Boveda, Balenziaga, San Jose, Benat, Williams, Raul Garcia, Susaeta, Aduriz.

What to expect

Despite their defeat to Espanyol, Athletic Club have been on a good run in all competitions. It will be a big task to compete without key player Aymeric Laporte, but they should have enough quality in the squad to confidently beat Granada. Granada will be looking to counter attack the home side.