Two years after their relegation to the second tier of Spanish football, Granada are back in La Liga. They will have only one goal in mind this season, which is to stay afloat and grow into a genuine La Liga team once again.
They performed impressively in the Segunda Division last season. By match week four, they had sealed a spot in the top six and never dropped below that. They also conceded the least goals (27) and had the most clean sheets (20), and ended the season with the best defensive record although they didn’t perform as well upfront scoring just 51 goals.
Knowing they need a better performance upfront, they acquired the services of veteran La Liga striker, Roberto Soldado from Fernabahce to help lead the charge in the attack.
The 34-year old former Villareal and Valencia striker has had an impressive career so far. He has played 260 league matches and scored 133 goals across the three leagues he has graced (Spain, England and Turkey) including his one goal in three appearances so far for Granada. However, he hasn’t had the smoothest career as he has been suffered serious injuries that kept him out for very long spells, as well as career downtimes where he went long periods without a goal.
Now he is back in La Liga, having turned down an offer from Levante to play for newly-promoted Granada and is poised to make what many consider as one last push for immortality while helping Granada stay in the top flight.
WHAT HE CAN OFFER THE CLUB
A prolific goalscorer when fit and mentally unburdened, Soldado will bring a lot of experience which will be invaluable to the club and coach, who are all mostly only limited to Spanish football, having witnessed three different leagues and their playing style.
He is a striker who is willing to drop deep and collect the ball when necessary, however he doesn’t do that often. He has good vision too, as he can start counter attacks by playing a pass to a teammate who has found some space when he picks up the ball from deep positions.
He also has good hold up play, which can enable his teammates to break free into spaces as the defence focuses on him while he’s with the ball.
Standing at 5’10” tall, he doesn’t pose much aerial threat for the opposition so Granada do not have that option with Soldado starting upfront for them.
He can make also life difficult for his teammates as he sometimes forgets he’s a striker and is found nowhere in the box. This can work to his team’s advantage though, as his presence outside the box could distract the opposing team’s defenders, who will be looking to stop him from getting into the box. However, on occasions this doesn’t work, that will be an attack that goes to waste.
He also tends to overanalyse his performances after a match. He, in fact, attributed his poor stint at Tottenham to this behaviour, claiming it messed up with his mental space and prevented him from playing as he would have wanted. His frequent injury problems too can be a problem for his psyche, as he takes a while to get his rhythm back after recovering from an injury.
Granada are definitely not looking for much this season, compared to the other three clubs he has played for, and the reduced pressure is what Soldado needs to get his mojo back. His manager and teammates definitely have a lot to learn from the veteran and he, if he stays fit, can be pivotal to their aims this season.
PREDICTION: We are predicting double figures for goals and just under that for assists in all competitions this season for Soldado.