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Verdict: Karim Benzema to score

Best odds: 4/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

Real Madrid will play host to Granada at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium on Wednesday evening in what will be the 15th La Liga game of the season for Los Blancos, while for Granada it will be the 14th. It goes without saying that points are very important for every team at this stage of the campaign.

Real Madrid

Real were under a lot of pressure recently, probably none more than head coach Zinedine Zidane who was at one point reportedly in danger of losing his job. Nevertheless, Los Blancos have snapped out of the poor run of form and their results have improved significantly, which means the Frenchman can now breathe more easily.

His team sit second in the La Liga table at the moment with 29 points to their name – the same as Atletico Madrid at the top, though the Rojiblancos have two games in hand on their giant city rivals. Real’s chances of defending their title of Spanish champions now seem much more realistic than they did a month or two ago.

It was a narrow squeeze for Real in the Champions League as well, where they needed three points against Borussia Monchengladbach to avoid the shame of dropping out of the competition after the group stage. Fortunately (from their perspective), they managed to win 2-0 and finish top of Group B, ahead of Gladbach, Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan.

Real beat Eibar away on Sunday by 1-3, courtesy of strikes from Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Lucas Vazqez, while the only goal for the home team was scored by Kike.

The improvement in Real’s form is clear when the fact that they’ve won five of their last six matches in all competitions, all after the last defeat they suffered.

Team News

Zidane has no confirmed absentees for this game, though there are several names highly unlikely to appear on the team sheet. Eden Hazard is one of them, with the Belgian winger still not fully fit after a muscular problem. Vinicius Junior and Isco Alarcon missed the Eibar clash through gastroenteritis and an ankle knock, respectively, so they are doubts as well. 

With Hazard and Vinicius probably missing, Zidane is very likely to start with Rodrygo Goes and Marco Asensio either side of striker Karim Benzema. Fede Valverde could be given a start as well, in case the coach decides to relieve the burden on 35-year-old Modric who recently had an injury of his own.

Granada

Granada have been one of the more pleasant surprises in the Spanish top flight over the last few campaigns. Having finished the 2019-20 season in seventh place and qualified for the Europa League, Diego Martinez’s team are doing well again this term. At the moment, they sit in sixth place with 21 points from 13 games, the same as Barcelona in fifth, and they appear ready to fight for a European place again.

As for their Europa League adventure, Granada have secured passage into the knockout stages by finishing second in Group E, behind PSV Eindhoven, and ahead of PAOK and AC Omonia.

Granada also achieved an important triumph on Sunday, by beating Real Betis 2-0 at home. Both goals were scored by former Valencia, Tottenham Hotspur, Villarreal and Fenerbahce striker, Roberto Soldado.

Overall, Granada won three of their last six matches on all fronts, drawing twice and losing once.

Team News

Martinez won’t be able to rely on Maxime Gonalons, a very important player in midfield, whose fifth booking of the season earned against Betis means he is suspended for the Madrid trip. The middle section of the team is further weakened by Angel Montoro and Fede Vico being absent through injury. In defence, the team will be missing centre-back Neyder Lozano and right-back Victor Diaz.

Yan Eteki, 23, is likely to come into the starting XI in the place of Gonalons; a game away to the reigning La Liga champions would certainly be an important experience for the 23-year-old.

Upfront, Soldado will probably be flanked by Darwin Machis and Luis Suarez once more.

Conclusion

There can be no doubt that Real Madrid are huge favourites to win this contest. Most of their players could find themselves on the scoresheet, but you have to name Benzema, whose form has been superb recently, as the likeliest one.

Verdict: Karim Benzema to score

Best odds: 4/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

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December 22, 2020
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