20 March 2012

Spotlight on Granada

Granada were playing in the third tier of Spanish football two seasons ago , but two successive promotions have seen them get back into the top flight after a 35 year absence and after changing managers in January, they are fighting hard to stay there for at least another year.

This is Granada’s 18th season in the top flight since they were founded in 1931, though it’s their first season back since 1976, since when they have hit the depths and now risen again to the heights of the Spanish game. Granada were relegated at the end of the 1975/76 season and then spent 25 years scratching round the second and third tiers of the Spanish League before in 2002 they were relegated down to the fourth tier.

It was a tough period for a club who although they have never won a title, were runners up in the Cup in 1959 – when Barça beat them 4-1 in the final - and had spent 13 years in the first division in the 50s, 60s and 70s. In 2006, after four years in the fourth level, Granada won promotion to the third and within 5 years they had won a place in Primera again. Last year they finished 5th in the second division, but beat Celta de Vigo and Elche in the play offs to seal their second promotion in two years.

Granada are currently 15th – seven points off the drop zone – and won an important three points at the weekend by beating fellow strugglers Sporting 2-1. Granada have been in the bottom half all season, but fought their way out of the bottom three in week 11 and have managed to keep out of the danger area since then. In their last seven away games they’ve won just once -1-2 at Betis – and lost all the other six, including a 5-1 defeat at the Bernabéu and all season they’ve managed just 8 goals on the road.

Abel Resino took over the reins at Granada on January 23rd this year after Fabri was sacked and the former Atlético Madrid keeper made a bright start, with three wins in his first four games, before losing three on the trot and finally getting back to winning ways at the weekend, to leave his record standing at 4 wins and 4 defeats since taking over. Resino had previously managed Levante and Atlético Madrid in the top flight and Murcia, Castellón and Valladolid in the second division.

Granada’s striker Ikechukwu Uche made his name with his extraordinary scoring feats against Madrid. In the 2006/7 season he scored a fantastic goal in Recre’s 0-3 win at the Bernabéu, then in 2008 he scored the only goal in Getafe’s 0-1 win on the same ground and the following season scored the third in Getafe’s 3-1 win over Madrid. The following season he was sold to Zaragoza, but suffered a serious injury that kept him out for nearly eighteen months. Last summer he was sold to Villarreal who sent him out on loan, where he scored the team’s first goal back in the top flight in the 1-0 win over….Villarreal! (via FCBarcelona.com)