Few expected much from Granada last season considering their 35-year absence from top-flight football and the club predictably clung on with all their might to narrowly avoid relegation. Vital wins against sides that were also fighting the drop resulted in their last-minute salvation allowing the club a second chance to make an impact.
Based on their working during the summer, it appears Granada are anxious to prove their ambition going into the new season as they have not only brought in over a dozen new players but have signed a new Coach who is typified by his hard work, strength of character and dedication to the cause. Giving him a two year contract instead of the standard one year contract they usually offer their Coaches, there is great believe in Juan Antonio Anquela, the man who masterminded a 4-0 victory over Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey in 2009 when he was in charge of Alcorcon.
Addressing their impotence in front of goal, an array of attacking talent has been brought in, most come courtesy of another Giampaolo Pozzo owned club, Udinese. Antonio Floro Flores and Youssef El-Arabi, who cost the club a large sum of money considering the club’s budget, have arrived with the hope that they can net the goals the club struggled to score last season. In their first season back at the top, Granada only managed to score more than relegated Racing Santander and despite producing many shots, few of those chances were on target or finished by a clinical striker. Based on the friendlies played in the early summer, the squad was still struggling to create the necessary goal-scoring opportunities.
Thankfully for the team, they managed to keep hold of some of their best performers from last season and combined with the new talent they have brought in, they hope Anquela’s infectious determination will inspire them to a more comfortable season even if anything more than survival will be considered an achievement.
The difference maker – Gabriel Torje
Technically gifted and hailed as the most exciting Romanian attacking midfielder of his generation. The youngster is known for his acceleration, explosive style of play and captivating technique and Granada will be hoping the midfielder will inject creativity to a side that could barely score last season.
Best signing – Youssef El-Arabi
Costing the club €5m, the Moroccan striker who managed 17 goals in 23 games for Saudi club Al-Hilal is the man tasked with solving the club’s attacking impotence. A player capable of making an impact, he boasts mobility and dynamism that overwhelms defenders allowing him to create and finish goal-scoring opportunities.
His time? Fabian Orellana
Granada’s sporting director, Juan Carlos Cordero, tipped him to be the surprise of the season. Despite playing a key role in getting Granada promoted to the top Division, his alleged sour relationship with Fabri Gonzalez saw him sent on loan before Coach Anquela specifically requested his return. Effective between the lines, he is versatile enough to play any role in attack.
Coach – Juan Antonio Anquela
Inexperienced when it comes to top-flight football, Anquela is the man who thrilled as the Coach of Alcorcon. “This is the first time in my life as President that I have signed a Coach for two years and that says it all,” Said a proud Quique Pina. A man who loves to work, Anquela wants an ambitious and hungry squad willing to suffer for the cause.
The big question…
Are they strong enough to survive for a second season in the top flight? So many new players brought in and a tactician who has never coached at the highest level could prove to be a problem for a side that need a good start to the season to avoid relegation.
Probable line-up: Roberto; Nyom, Lopez, Gomez, Siqueira; IRINEY, Mikel Rico, TORJE, ORELLANA; EL-ARABI, FLORO FLORES
IN: Toti (m, Cadiz), Alex Goikoetxea (d, Cadiz), Oscar Perez (m, Cadiz), Kabiru Akinsola (a, Cadiz), Silvan Widmer (d, Aarau), Brayan Angulo (d, Atlético Baleares), Youssef El-Arabi (a, Al-Hilal), Matias Campos (m, Universidad Catolica), Alex Cruz (m, Sabadell), Fabien Orellana (a, Celta de Vigo), Iriney Santos (m, Real Betis), Borja Gomez (d, Karpaty Lviv), Juanma Ortiz (m, Rangers), Tono (gk, Racing de Santander), Gabriel Silva (d, Novara), Goku (m, Alcala), Gabriel Torje (a, Udinese), Antonio Floro Flores (a, Udinese), Darwin Machis (a, Udinese), Allan Nyom (d, Udinese), Dani Benitez (m, Udinese)
OUT: Richard Boateng (m, San Roque de Lepe), Mohammed Fatau (m, San Roque de Lepe), Jeison Murillo (d, Las Palmas), Anya Ikechi (a, Watford), David Ferreiro (m, Racing de Santander) Daniel Pudil (d, Watford), Hector Yuste (m, Racing de Santander), Abel Gomez (m, Cordoba), Ikechukwu Uche (a, Villarreal), Henrique Almeida (a, Sao Paulo), Franco Jara (a, Benfica), Jaime Romero (m, Udinese), Odion Ighalo (a, Udinese), Julio Cesar (gk, Benfica), Carlos Martins (m, Benfica), Alex Geijo (a, Udinese), Yohan Mollo (m, Nancy), Juanjo Serrano (a, Logrones), Alex Bernal (m, Mirandes), David de Coz (d, Lugo), Jose Juan Figueras (gk, Lugo), Jose Maria Cases (m, Mirandes)