Last season saw Granada CF return to La Liga for the first time in two years. They then exceeded expectations by finishing seventh, which won them a Europa League spot for the first time in their history. They now have to deal with the added pressure of playing La Liga football as well as Europa League football, though this is dependent on them qualifying as they face Teuta in the second qualifying round.
This data analysis will provide a season preview on Granada. I will provide an overview of the season just gone by, with an insight into how they played last season and therefore how they are likely to play this season.
I will also use statistics and data in this analysis to analyse the Granada squad in more detail to understand more about the squad strength and how Granada could look to invest as they need the squad strength to compete in La Liga, Europe League and Copa Del Rey.
Summary of the previous season
As mentioned earlier, Granada finished in the Europa League places, however, they had been outside the top seven since 9th November. Below shows that they began the season really well as they averaged high expected goals per match and a relatively low expected conceded goals. Their position fluctuated between 11th and eighth for the mid part of the season as they struggled to create as many goalscoring opportunities as the beginning of the season.
Granada would switch to a narrow structured 4-4-2 formation when defending, 49.60% of their pressures were in the middle third as their mid-block was aggressive in forcing opposition passes backwards away from goal and wide away from the centre of the goal. The press was relatively intense as they allowed 9.04 passes per defensive action per 90.
Above, Granada are shown to have pushed the opposition into shooting from distance and less threatening positions, as each shot faced had an expected goal value of 0.10, though, they did concede 11 long shots last season. Granada looked to be proactive in reducing this threat as they averaged 2.74 shot blocks per 90, so they will rely on being proactive as the Europa League includes players who can shoot from distance.
When in possession, Granada look to transition quickly from defence to attack as they held possession for an average of 11.90 seconds, the average in La Liga was 14.1. When in possession they would attack via the wide areas, particularly the right-hand side, where 35% of attacks came from. The visual below supports the opinion that Granada like to transition quickly from defence to attack.
Granada would transition quickly through long passes, 30% of their passes were long per 90. The majority of these passes were focused towards the attacking third as they looked to make use of their limited possession, their desire to transition quickly meant that they held 1258 possessions at less than five seconds. This means that they lost possession quickly on a number of occasions, they averaged 44.5% possession last season.
Granada’s full-backs would look to support the attacks, however, Granada lost possession 42.64 times in the attacking third per 90. This meant that Granada were highly vulnerable in a counter-attack as their full-backs were positioned high, and they conceded seven counter attacks last season. So, Europa League sides may look to exploit this.
Granada have already improved their attack this summer as they look to be more clinical from their limited possessions, though, it is likely they will look for more reinforcements, they will be analysed in this data analysis.
Formation and squad width
Granada played 41% of their matches in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Their plan B formations were 4-4-1-1 and 5-4-1, however, they would sometimes use variations of these formations at times such as a 4-4-2, the formation they would transition to when defending. The visual below displays the squad width.
Rui Silva’s brilliant hot-stopping and handling ability is highlighted below and helped Granada maintain their strong defensive performances, keeping 12 clean sheets. He outperforms Barcelona goalkeeper Marc Andre-Ter Stegen on this particular test, evidence of his European level ability. Granada hope to keep him although Villarreal have been interested recently.
Substitute goalkeeper Aarón Escandell featured in the early round Copa Del Rey matches and three La Liga matches, in his eight appearances he kept two clean sheets and had a save percentage of 76.67%. His data is from a small number of matches, though, he appears an able deputy and is likely to improve this season, aged only 24.
Domingos Duarte and Germán Sánchez were Granada’s first choice centre-backs last season and are likely to be this season. Duarte is Granada’s standout centre-back and performs well in his ground duels. Both are influential in possession to help the direct attacks, they both completed 71% of the forward passes per 90.
Granada have struggled in aerial duels, the team as a whole only won 43% of their aerial duels and this is a weakness sides have and will exploit, Rui Silva’s strength in handling crosses has helped to prevent this being more of an issue.
Granada have re-signed Real Madrid centre-back Jesús Vallejo on loan and also have left-footed Neyder Lozano in their ranks, although he didn’t play any minutes last season. When Granada played a three at the back formation, right-back Víctor Díaz played as a centre-back and Granada will be looking to provide more depth in this position.
Granada may look to invest in a left-footed centre-back with only one at the club. It could allow for more passing lanes to be opened when possession is in defence and could help to improve defending against opposition attacks down the opposition right-hand side half space.
Granada could look towards signing Premier League left-footed centre-backs Marcos Rojo or Malang Sarr on loan. They have been linked with Malaga’s Diego González recently and appears to be rated highly by Diego Martinez.
Veteran right-back Victor Diaz has been ever present in the Granada defence as he contributes significantly when the team defends having made 11.49 successful defensive actions per 90. He is also an influence going forward as his technical skills are adequate and helps to provide Granada with their wide attacking shape. Deputy Dimitri Foulquier is able to step in the team when asked having played at right wing-back for Granada when they switch to three at the back.
Granada have depth in the left-back position, however, may look towards signing a left-back with better defensive abilities as first-choice Carlos Neva has struggled in his defensive duels, particularly his aerial duels where he only had a success rate of 42.31%.
One player who could be signed at left-back is Real Sociedad’s Kévin Rodrigues after he impressed at Leganés last season, as his ability to provide attacking threat while being sound defensively is advantageous. Barcelona B right-back Sergio Akieme has also been linked and would provide a youthful option at right-back.
Competition is high in the Granada midfield, when fit, Maxime Gonalons would partner Yangel Herrera in a double pivot. Both are suited to the role, as they helped maintain the core of the Granada defensive structure by successfully making a high number of defensive actions per 90. Gonalons’ strength in passing and experience in highly competitive games will be key for Granada in the Europa League and they will want to keep him fit having signed permanently from Roma.
Yan Eteki is capable of replacing either player in the pivot role as he is strong defensively, while Ángel Montoro hadn’t played so much, he provided more of an attacking threat from midfield.
New signing Luis Milla impressed for Tenerife in the Spanish Segunda Division. His strengths lie in passing and could be key to breaking defensive blocks, he successfully passed 77.3% of his 14.28 forward passes per 90 and could help pass between the lines to break low block sides.
Granada have strong squad depth in the central midfield department to challenge for Europa League and compete in the top half of La Liga. Therefore, they are unlikely to sign any more players in this position. Their central midfield department includes a variety of ages and strengths to help affect the game in different ways.
Wingers Darwin Machis and Antonio Puertas were key to Granada’s attacking transitions last season and are likely to be again this year. They provided a high goal and assist output given their position and were also prepared to help the Granada’s defensive structure to frustrate the opposition. They offer different qualities, Puertas boasted an impressive goal conversion rate of 16.28% and Machis made 3.74 successful dribbles per 90 last season.
Granada have signed Alberto Soro and Kenedy on loan and both will provide strength in depth and unpredictability on the ball.
Attacking midfielder Carlos Fernández has returned to Sevilla after his loan stint at Granada. This a position of weakness as Fede Vico struggled to nail down a starting position having, played the across midfield. Ramon Azeez appears more suited to a central midfield role, neither have a significant goal or assist output.
Granada have been linked with Jota, his best days were remembered at Brentford, though, he has struggled at Aston Villa. Others linked have been Barcelona B midfielder Monchu and Real Zaragoza’s Raúl Guti. Neither have La Liga experience but have performed well in the lower Spanish divisions, they are of similar a similar style to Milla and so would perform best in a deeper position. Fans could see Diego Martinez push Milla forward unless other signings are made.
Granada have been linked with Torino winger Alex Berenguer, though, with the recent loan signings it is unlikely another winger will be signed.
The experienced Roberto Soldado was Granada’s main striker this season and fans will see him supported by Jorge Molina for the upcoming season. Fans will be relieved to have signed Molina as he provides greater depth and has Europa League experience having played for Getafe last season. He is a hardworking defensive forward, his style fits well in Diego Martinez’s tactics.
Soldado and Molina have strong goal conversion rates at 21.16% and 20.66% respectively, key for Granada as they need to be efficient in front of goal due to averaging 44.5% ball possession last season. 20-year old Antoñin is another forward option and provides Granada with an option for the future as their other two strikers are nearing the end of their career.
Granada have been linked with Ante Budimir and Watford’s Luis Suarez. Budimir impressed last season having scored 13 goals last season and Suarez excelled on loan at Real Zaragoza scoring 19 goals.
Diego Martinez could look to play a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation with Soldado at centre-forward behind the striker. Increased strength in depth in attacking positions can provide Granada more firepower off of the bench and reduce the goal burden on the front three.
This data analysis has used statistics and data to analyse Granada’s tactics and their squad personal. This is an overview but it is unlikely that Diego Martinez will heavily alter the tactics that worked so well last season. It is clear that they are defensively strong, though could be even stronger with left-hand side signings that could also help improve their aerial success. In attacking areas, fans could see central attacking signings as the transfer window shuts in a few weeks’ time.
Diego Martinez has improved the lack of depth in some positions and if more signings follow it will provide Granada the ability to compete in the Europa League, while sustaining their place in La Liga. With the current signings and strong base in midfield, I believe that Granada will compete in the Europa League group stages and look to compete for the European places in La Liga once again this season.