Granada Season Preview 2020/21 – Key Men return as El Graná make European Debut

Granada season preview

Granada put together one of the best ever seasons by a promoted team in LaLiga last term to secure Europa League qualification. If they can win their qualifiers, that will bring its own challenges in an already congested 2020/21 campaign as Diego Martinez’s men look to prove they are no one-season wonders. Read on for our Granada season preview.


Last Season – 7th

Granada were widely tipped to struggle on their return to LaLiga after two years in the Segunda Division. However they very quickly made pundits eat their words with a fantastic start to the campaign which saw them briefly top the table after a victory over Betis in the autumn.

Solid defensive foundations and strong home form was the key to their success and despite losing 8 straight away games in LaLiga through the winter months, they regrouped to finish strongly and sealed European qualification for the first time in club history with a convincing 4-0 win over Athletic Club in their final game.


Granada Summer Transfers

Players IN

Dimitri Foulquier | from Watford | €2m

Luis Milla | from Tenerife | €5m

Maxime Gonalons | from Roma | €4m

Jesus Vallejo | from Real Madrid | LOAN

Jorge Molina | from Getafe | FREE

Yangel Herrera | from Manchester City | LOAN

Players OUT

Alvaro Vadillo | to Celta Vigo | FREE

(Transfers up to 1st September 2020.)


Coach –  Diego Martinez

Diego Martinez has done a wonderful job at Granada. He took over a side that had just finished 10th in the Segunda Division in the summer of 2018. Two years on and he is preparing to lead Granada into Europe having quickly established a clear identity and found the winning formula at Los Cármenes.

The only worry will be that last season’s success will raise expectation levels to unrealistic heights and juggling European and domestic commitments will be another major test of Martinez’s managerial skills. Still just 39, he is currently viewed as one of the brightest young coaches in the Spanish game and if Granada can repeat last term’s miraculous achievements, it would be no surprise to see a bigger club come calling for Martinez’s services.


Possible Granada Line Up 2020/21

Granada line up

Granada had a number of players shine on loan deals last season and much of their summer transfer activity has centred around trying to get those men to return. Largely they have been successful with Dimitri Foulquier and Maxime Gonalons arriving on permanent deals while Jesus Vallejo and Yangel Herrera are back on loan.

Defensively, they will be hoping to field the same goalkeeper and back four as last term. However Portuguese keeper Rui Silva is yet to agree a contract extension and could still be sold with just one year left to run on his current deal.

In front of the back four, Herrera and Gonalons should provide plenty of protection and once again Granada ought to have a strong spine that will be difficult for opposing teams to break down. New signing Luis Milla may complete a midfield three having completed a €5 million switch from Segunda outfit Tenerife.

Darwin Machis and Antonio Puertas are the most likely candidates to start out wide while Jorge Molina arrives to provide competition for and perhaps occasionally start alongside Roberto Soldado in what would be a veteran strike-force.

One blow for Granada is that forward Carlos Fernández has returned to Sevilla having excelled on loan in the latter stages of last term with some key goals that helped El Graná seal European qualification.


Key Man – Yangel Herrera

In truth, Granada do not have any outright star players and that has been a key ingredient in their success. If we’re going to pick one who stands out, it would probably be Yangel Herrera.

The 22 year old was very impressive on loan from Manchester City last term and the Venezuelan looks wise beyond his years at times. It’s a real coup for Granada to get him back for another season and he should be one of their standout performers again in the middle of the park.


One to Watch – Luis Milla

At 25, Luis Milla is not exactly a youngster any more, but he will be a new name to anyone who doesn’t watch much Spanish football outside of the top flight. The son of a former Real Madrid midfielder, Milla emerged through the Atleti youth ranks before moving to Fuenlabrada where he famously scored at the Bernabeu in a 2017 Copa del Rey tie.

Milla’s game has gone onto a new level since joining Tenerife in January 2018. A regular for the Canary Islands team, Granada have picked him out as one of the top Segunda talents and will be hoping he can make the step up. He will bring a slightly more attacking dimension to the centre of the Granada midfield and could be given license to roam forward with the likes of Yangel Herrera and Maxime Gonalons content to play holding roles.


Granada 2020/21 Targets

Much will depend on whether Granada make it through the Europa League qualifiers. With single-legged ties in those matches, Granada’s European campaign could consist of anything between 1 and 18 matches. That makes recruitment a difficult proposition at this stage and clearly their European progress, or lack of it, is likely to have some impact on their league season.

A solid mid-table finish and progression into at least the Europa League group stage would represent a good campaign for Diego Martinez and his side who will struggle to replicate last season’s outstanding 7th place finish.

That being said, it would be totally wrong to assume they are going to do an Espanyol who were relegated last term having qualified for Europe the previous season. Granada’s recruitment has been much shrewder and their starting XI should be close to the one that ended last season now they’ve managed to get some key men to sign on for another year.

LLE Prediction: 12th


Alhambra
Alhambra, Granada

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Spanish football writer
About Mark Sochon 1703 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid, writing mostly about Spanish football. His work has been published by the likes of Guardian Sport & World Soccer. Contact: marksochon (at) hotmail.co.uk