Despite continued rumblings of unrest off the field, Real Madrid are maintaining their impressive form on the pitch since the turn of the year. The fact that they remain one of the best teams around, despite lying 15 points adrift in La Liga, was confirmed as they played out an entertaining 1-1 draw with old foes Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal.
It would be understandable for Madrid to be focusing on the cup and Champions League, but they have shown anything but in winning their last two league outings by an aggregate score of 9-0. As they prepare to face relegation-threatened Granada on Saturday, midfielder Jose Callejon has said that the side remains committed to trying to improve their position in La Liga.
“It will be a very difficult match,” he said, according to Real Madrid’s official website. “They’ve made some great signings and like any team that plays against Real Madrid they will give 200 percent to come away with a win. They really need the points, but are confident and we want the points to catch up with the leaders in the League. In the last few matches we have seen quite an improvement and we will try to keep it up”.
The headline signing for Osasuna to which Callejon referred was referring is former Malaga attacking midfielder Diego Buonanotte. The Argentina international is far from the only change at Osasuna in the past week, with head coach Juan Antonio Anquela having been replaced by Lucas Alcaraz. The Granda-native returns for his second spell in charge of the club after 15 years away.
Alcaraz will have Youssef El-Arabi available after his return from African Cup of Nations duty, although Pape Diakhate is suspended.
Madrid boss Jose Mourinho welcomes back Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao and Angel Di Maria from suspension, although Mesut Ozil will serve a one-match ban. Iker Casillas and Pepe remain out injured.
D: Nyom, Lopez, Mainz, Siqueira
M: Iriney, M. Rico
El-Arabi, Brahmi, Buonanotte
Real Madrid (probable)
D; Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Coentrao
M: Khedira, Alonso
Di Maria, Modric, Ronaldo
Prediction: Real Madrid put in a fine performance against Barcelona and will be boosted by the return of a trio of players for the trip to Granada. Raphael Varane was particularly impressive in midweek and should form a strong partnership with Ramos to keep out the lowest scorers in La Liga so far this season. Madrid also look to be in a rich vein of form going forward and look set to prove far too strong for Granada.
Granada 0-3 Real Madrid
Where to watch: The La Liga contest will kick-off from the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes at 4 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion, will be available here.