Coach: Jose Ramon Sandoval
Key signings: Rene Khrhin
Key sales: Jeison Murillo
Last season: 17th
This season [predicted finish]: 17th
Predicted finish is the average prediction of the Football Espana team.
Granada are set for their fifth consecutive season in Spain’s top division after yet again scraping to survival by the skin of their teeth. A goalless draw at home to Atletico Madrid on the final day of 2014-15 was just about enough to keep El Grana out of the relegation zone as they, Eibar and Deportivo La Coruna all finished level on points. By virtue of not having the worst head-to-head record in matches between the teams, Jose Ramon Sandoval’s team escaped the drop.
While Elche’s subsequent demotion for off-field matters meant that ultimately Granada would have survived even if they had finished 18th, a dangerous pattern is emerging. Finishes of 17th, 15th, 15th and 17th since their arrival in the Primera, with survival only secured on the final day of three of the four previous seasons, suggest it is a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ the Andalusians succumb to relegation back to the Segunda.
One of the key concerns surrounding Granada’s attempts to have a better season this time around will be a chronic lack of goals. Youssef El Arabi top scored for the Los Carmenes side last season with eight strikes, but other than him and fellow forward Jhon Cordoba nobody found the net on more than four occasions. A tally of 29 goals in 38 League matches, more only than relegated Cordoba, and subsequent failure to add any significant firepower during the summer hint at another year of struggle ahead for the club.
Sandoval has, however, made some important additions to his midfield. Slovenian Rene Khrkin, who impressed on loan at Cordoba last season, has been brought in from Inter for a fee of over €1m, while Ruben Perez has arrived from Atletico Madrid on a permanent basis. Promising young winger Robert Ibanez is back for a second year on loan from Valencia and the arrivals of Nico Lopez and Edgar Mendez on temporary deals from Udinese and Almeria respectively should further bolster Granada’s attack.
Sandoval has also conducted an overhaul of his defensive ranks. Regular goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez has departed for Lugo to be replaced by namesake Andres Fernandez, who comes in on loan from Porto. Defenders Jeison Murillo, Allan Nyom and Manuel Iturra, all of whom were first team regulars, have also gone. In their place come Miguel Lopes, Musavu King, Salva Ruiz and David Lomban, all on loan or on free transfers.
All in all, Granada’s heavy reliance on the loan market and high turnover of Coaches ensure stability is not a word commonly associated with the club. Sandoval, whose four games in charge at the end of last season yielded 10 points and secured a near-miraculous escape from relegation, is the latest man to be charged with the task of ensuring a higher finish. Do not bank on it, though.
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