While the focus behind the scenes continues to be on securing a record-breaking transfer for Gareth Bale, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has matters on the pitch to attend to on Monday night. After a narrow win against Real Betis -- only secured by an Isco goal with four minutes remaining -- in their opening La Liga match last week, Ancelotti is hoping for an improved performance when his side visits Granada.
“The team is in good shape,” he said, according to Real Madrid’s official website. “We want to play better, because we didn’t play too well in the first match and we struggled to win. This time we want a more decisive win.”
Granada were far happier with their 2-1 win, at Osasuna last Sunday. After a summer of strengthening for the Andalusians, Ancelotti is well aware that his side will have to be on their guard to prevent a repeat of their defeat at Los Carmenes last season.
“We watched the first Granada game and they played very well,” he said. “They were quick, well organized both in defense and in offence and I think it will be a tough match. We’re confident we’ll have a good game and set out to win.”
There has been much speculation during the week over the futures of Karim Benzema and Iker Casillas. Benzema has been linked with a move to Arsenal, while Casillas was surprisingly left out of the team to face Betis as Ancelotti elected to start with Diego Lopez. Ancelotti claimed that Benzema very much remained in his plans, while refusing to confirm which goalkeeper would start on Monday.
“The club is very lucky to have two fantastic keepers and I have to make the decisions,” he explained. “It’s normal for me to make this kind of decision and gauge the reaction. I’m not going to say who the keeper will be tomorrow. There has been a lot of talk going around and I would prefer to talk to both players first, then I’ll make a decision, but it won’t be definitive.”
Madrid will still be without Xabi Alonso and Raphael Varane. New midfield signing Asier Illarramendi has returned to training, but has not been included in the match squad. Granada manager Lucas Alvaraz will be able to hand a debut to one of his new recruits after former Deportivo la Coruna forward Riki completed his suspension last week.
D: Nyom, Mainz, Diakhate, Angulo
M: Iturra, Yebda
Piti, Brahimi, Benitez
Real Madrid (probable)
D: Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo
M: Khedira, Modric
Ozil, Isco, Ronaldo
Prediction: This promises to be another tough encounter for Real Madrid and they are likely to have to produce an improved to emerge from Granada with a victory. Ancelotti is still trying to find his best attacking formula, with the introduction of Isco forcing Mesut Ozil to adapt to a slightly altered role. Another narrow win could be on the cards for Ancelotti’s men.
Granada 1-2 Real Madrid
Where to watch: The Premier Division match will kick-off at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport, with a live stream available on beIN Sport Play.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.