Real Madrid and Granada both opened the new La Liga campaign with victories. Although the two clubs have vastly different expectations for the season, both will be hoping to continue building off of their early success on Monday.
The Blancos were far from dominant in their triumph over Real Betis. After falling behind 1-0 inside the first 15 minutes, Karim Benzema scored to equalize later in the first half before Isco played the role of hero with the winning goal just minutes before the final whistle.
Granada were the superior club in the first half of their opener against Osasuna. However, after grabbing a 2-0 lead before the break, they came out sluggish in the second half and nearly allowed the Rojillos to steal a point. They ended up holding on, however.
Since Real Madrid were still searching for top form last weekend, a road match with Granada could pose a tricky early test. Let's check out all the important viewing information for the clash, followed by a preview and prediction.
Where: Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes in Granada, Spain
When: Monday, Aug. 26 at 3 p.m. ET (8 p.m. BST)
Watch: beIN Sport and Sky Sports 3
Live Stream: beIN Sport Play
Match Forecast (via Bloomberg Sports)
Real Madrid: 60.9%
Granada Player to Watch: Youssef El-Arabi
Granada lack explosiveness on the attack. They tied for the second-fewest goals in La Liga last term, averaging less than one per match. The only reason they were able to avoid relegation was a strong defensive effort, especially at home.
Since the Grana don't feature a lot of offensive depth, it puts a lot of pressure on players with finishing ability, such as Youssef El-Arabi. The 26-year-old Moroccan international led the club with eight goals across all competitions.
He got the new campaign off to a promising start, scoring Granada's first goal of the season. If they are going to get a positive result against a Real side with a distinct talent edge, El-Arabi will need to have a tremendous showing.
Real Madrid Player to Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo
Even though Cristiano Ronaldo didn't score in the opener, rarely does a match go by where his impact isn't felt, the victory over Betis included. His mere presence on the pitch forces the opponent to build its game plan around stopping him.
Quite often, that isn't even enough to keep him off the scoresheet. On the occasions where it does, Ronaldo is still able to open up space for fellow members of the Real attack. It allows players like Benzema and Isco to steal the spotlight.
The matchup with Granada won't be any different. Expect Ronaldo to get a lot of touches early in the clash as the Blancos establish possession. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see him net a couple of goals to jump-start his season.
Key Matchup to Watch: Granada back line vs. Real attack
As mentioned, Granada's defense was certainly the strength of the squad last season. Led by Allan Nyom and Guilherme Siqueira, it ranked in the middle of the pack in goals allowed and gave up just 21 in 19 home fixtures.
Those strong stats represent the type of performance it needs to keep Real Madrid at bay. The Blancos will arrive with three points on their mind and anything less would be a disappointment. They will be aggressive from the opening whistle, and the Granada back line must rise to the occasion.
Ultimately, the edge lies with the extremely deep Real attacking group. Whether it's Ronaldo, Benzema, Isco, Mesut Ozil or a host of other players, sooner or later they tend to break through, even against tough defenses. Expect that to be the case on Monday.
Real Madrid 3, Granada 1