Andy Brassell on European Football: Granada back on top of La Liga

Granada coach Diego Martínez
Diego Martínez, who worked with Unai Emery at Sevilla, has shone in leading Granada to the top

Andy Brassell looks at a surprise leader in La Liga, Thiago Motta's eye-catching coaching debut and Borussia Mönchengladbach emerging as the entertainers in Germany...

"It’s a bit premature to suggest Granada are in with a shout of Europe, but they have already matched the 20 points they won in the whole campaign the last time they were up, in 2015-16."

Granada profit from El Clásico delay

Okay, so we missed out on El Clásico this weekend, but the postponement meant that there was plenty of space to enjoy some of the other stories bubbling away in La Liga. Few are more noteworthy than that of Granada, newly promoted and now on top of the pile for the second time this season after edging Real Betis in Sunday's Andalucian derby.

The winning goal was a great story in itself, tucked away by Álvaro Vadillo, Betis' youngest-ever player when he debuted as a 16-year-old in 2011 before a pair of serious knee injuries derailed his progress. Back in the top flight at last, he deserves this moment, having already scored in the shock win over Barcelona.

It's a bit premature to suggest that the men from Los Carmenes are in with a shout of Europe, but they are on the brink of getting one hurdle out of the way, having already matched the 20 points they won in the whole campaign the last time they were up, in 2016-17. Coach Diego Martínez, Unai Emery's erstwhile assistant, is a canny operator and they are already making it a memorable season.

Granada are 5.14/1 to win at Getafe

Can Motta magic threaten Juve?

The eternal question is how much does a player's personality endure as a coach, under the ultimate pressure? We are perhaps getting a slightly different answer than expected from Thiago Motta's first few steps in a senior job, having been appointed by Genoa, who he also represented during his playing career.

A metronomic midfielder with an uncompromising edge when he played at Barcelona, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain, Motta threw caution to the wind after his side came in at half-time a goal down on his debut against Brescia. He revamped his XI in the first 20 minutes of the second half, using all his substitutes, and all three - Kevin Agudelo, Christian Kouamé and Goran Pandev - got on the scoresheet to turn the game around and snare three vital points.

Chapter two of the Motta era is as hard as assignments get, taking Genoa to champions Juventus in Serie A's full midweek programme. The market doesn't expect much of them, offering 6.05/1 even on a draw, but the club's bold choice in appointing a young and ambitious coach already looks like a good one, and gives them encouragement ahead of their mission.

You can back the draw between Juventus and Genoa at 6.05/1

Gladbach aim to challenge Dortmund on two fronts

The Bundesliga has been full of surprises so far this season, and nowhere was that better underlined this weekend than in the contrasting fortunes of Borussia Mönchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund. Gladbach's thrilling 4-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt took them back to the top of the table while Dortmund, led by former Foals boss Lucien Favre, stumbled to a goalless draw in the Revierderby at Schalke.

It wasn't supposed to be this way around. Dortmund had a more satisfying transfer window than any of their competitors but have lost the joie de vivre of the early weeks of the season, becoming quite "laboured" in their play, in the words of sporting director Michael Zorc. Favre is under the microscope as his exciting, attack-minded squad splutters, though the club insist his position is safe.

Gladbach, with versatile attacking tools and depth led by Marcus Thuram and Breel Embolo, travel to Dortmund for a DfB Pokal tie on Wednesday considerably overpriced at 4.84/1 and also with the experience of a recent, narrow league defeat at Signal Iduna Park to draw upon. If they reproduce recent form, they could easily crank up the pressure on Favre.

A Gladbach win can be backed at 4.84/1

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