Granada will play host to league-leading Barcelona Saturday afternoon in what will be a highly exciting matchup.
For Barcelona, the La Liga season has been one to be very proud of. But for the Granada-based club, the season has certainly been a disappointment.
Yet, playing on the road could be difficult for Barcelona. Granada will look to win big against the Catalans after recently triumphing against Real Madrid.
If Granada is able to pull off a victory, it would be a big shock to both clubs. But the game will definitely come down to some tough matchups on the pitch. In this article we will take a look at the key battles every fan should watch.
Ighalo has been a pleasant surprise for Granada this season and could cause problems for the Barcelona backline. With Granada likely to wait to hit on the counter, it will be up to Gerard Pique to stop the young striker.
Against Real Madrid, Ighalo gave the defense a headache for the whole game. He was surprisingly able to get three shots off against the Madrid-based club as well as win over 2 dribbles (via Whoscored).
It is obvious that Ighalo will be the main source of attack for Granada. Yet, fans should expect Pique to be able to keep the attack at bay.
The tall Catalan has been in top form this season and it should continue against Barcelona’s hosts. The pure strength and size of Pique will make things very tough for Ighalo so viewers should expect the Catalan to win this battle.
Sergio Busquets is arguably the most important player in the Barcelona lineup. Week after week, the Catalan is tasked with holding the midfielder and giving the defense strong coverage.
The midfielder will have his hands full again against Granada. Busquets will look to hold down Recio, which will not be an easy task.
Recio has been one of the most consistent players for Granada. The young midfielder is the brains of Granada at this point and any chance of winning against Barcelona will rest on his shoulders.
Though Busquets has the best chance of winning this battle, Recio is a player full of surprise. Do not be shocked if Recio gets the better of his Catalan counterpart on a few occasions.
Quite possibly the most exciting battle will be between Guilherme Siqueira and Dani Alves. Both players are wing-backs by nature, but are very attack minded. This will prove to be very thrilling for fans, and dangerous for both clubs.
Siqueira is the leading scorer for Granada on the season with four goals. However, it must be noted that each goal was scored by penalties (via Goal). Despite all of his goals being penalty shots, Siqueira is still a very dangerous attacking defender.
On the other hand, Dani Alves will be matched up with the 26-year-old defender.
Alves will also look to go forward and link up with the attack. The Brazilian is very strong when on the offensive and should be a vital piece to the Barcelona attacking puzzle.
With both defenders trying to push up in attack, they will have to be constantly watching each other in defense. The battle may very well lead to a goal for one player, and it will be the most exciting of the match for sure.
A constant battle that teams in La Liga are faced with is holding Lionel Messi. For Granda, that task will fall to Tono, who has had a strong season to this point.
In his last four games, Tono has secured three clean sheets. The keeper has a solid defense in front of him but is a tremendous shot stopper. Tono will have a near impossible test in front of him, but he is capable.
For Lionel Messi, goals are almost a certainty. Messi will surely make things difficult for Tono on the night and fans should expect him to score.
At the very least, Messi will get the best of Tono once. The real test will come with how Tono handles Messi throughout the entire game, including how Messi will look to set up teammates as well.
In all honesty, Barcelona should win every battle they are faced with. But Granada has shown that they are strong and will not back down. Fans are surely in for a thrilling match.
What matchups will be the most important for both clubs? Who will win in Granada? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.