La Liga Betting: Real Madrid to grind out a win at Granada



Journalist - and Iker Casillas' girlfriend - Sara Carbonero said on Mexican television this week that "the atmosphere in the [Real Madrid] dressing room is not good". You can only imagine the conversation which took place at the dinner table the next evening between her and the Madrid captain, but she probably has a point.

But that was before the fast-paced 1-1 draw with Barcelona, from which both sides claimed a moral victory. The match proved why Ricardo Carvalho had fallen so dramatically out of favour, whilst announcing the arrival of a new defensive prince in the form of Frenchman Raphaël Varane. On his Clasico debut the centre-back cleared off the line, made a number of exquisitely timed tackles on Lionel Messi and co, and rose like a salmon to head home the equaliser. It was his first goal of the season and what a time for it to arrive.

Juan Antonio Anqduela received his marching orders from Granada just a few days ago and has been replaced by Lucas Alcaraz, who started his coaching career with the club back in 1995. The Andalusians brought in Diego Buonanotte from Málaga on transfer deadline day. The Argentine is yet to fulfil his promise and was only used intermittently at the Champions League side.

Team news

Another Granada signing, Nolito, may feature - though his assertion that he "always wanted to play" for the club is difficult to believe. Pape Malickou Diakhaté will miss out and is likely to be replaced by Iñigo López. Dani Benítez is doubtful.

Fabio Coentrão, Ángel di María and Sergio Ramos will all return from suspension for Real Madrid. Mesut Özil will be missing after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend, so Luka Modrić will get another chance to impress.

Form

Hovering just above the relegation zone, El Graná have only five wins in the league this season - although two of those arrived in the previous five games. The 3-0 defeat to Sevilla on Monday sealed Anqduela's fate.

Following the loss to Málaga before the winter break, Los Blancos are now unbeaten in their last eight matches, which included meetings with Valencia and Barcelona. Have they turned a corner?

Recent head-to-head

The last time Real Madrid visited Los Cármenes it took a stoppage time own goal from David Cortés to give them the three points. Granada had three red cards in the three clashes in 2012; another sending off can be backed at 2.75.

Goalscorer betting

Gonzalo Higuaín has completed a full game just twice in his last ten outings for the whites. The striker is constantly linked with a move away from the club and continually has to prove the doubters wrong, time and time again. The naysayers are circling and that's when 'El Pipita' normally pounces. The forward is 4.80 to score first and 2.00 to net within the 90 minutes.

Verdict

Only Osasuna have scored fewer goals than Granada this season, but the introduction of extra attacking players should provide more firepower. Alcaraz will be hoping for the new manager bounce and that Madrid struggle from tiredness after midweek. But with the expected rotation and the fact they are unbeaten this calendar year, it's likely Real Madrid will have enough to get over the line winning this one at 1.33.

Bonus bet

There have been over 2.5 goals scored in six of Real Madrid's last seven games in La Liga. With Granada matches producing over 2.5 goals in their last three meetings with the visitors, the over seems the sensible option at 1.42.

Score prediction: Granada 1-3 Real Madrid (11.50)