Spanish LaLiga

La Liga Tips: Real Madrid's Plan B to sweep Granada aside

Carlo Ancelotti observes his team from the dugout
Real Madrid won't let up despite sealing La Liga title

Ahead of matchday 35 in La Liga, Jamie Kemps returns to preview three games across the division, including Real Madrid's trip to Granada as the newly-crowned champions...

Granada v Real Madrid - Sat, 17:30

Granada could be officially relegated from La Liga this weekend, although the writing has been on the wall for some time already. Indeed, besides an Almeria side having an historically poor campaign, the Andalusian side have unfortunately been the next-worst thing this term.

Now onto their third manager of the campaign in the form of Jose Ramon Sandoval, the remit for the current boss is merely about trying not to make their season any worse. He's unlikely to be the man entrusted to lead their fightback in 2024-25, but in his second spell at the club, offers the experience and steadying appeal that the club felt compelled to call on a few months ago.

As tends to happen when a team finds themselves in a position with little left to lose, Granada have actually picked up a few wins under Sandoval. They've won their last two home games against Alaves and Osasuna, but adding a third against Real Madrid is of course a different prospect entirely - even if it is a heavily rotated version.

Real Madrid's 'second string' have been particularly dependable for Carlo Ancelotti this season, and those players who make up the bench have played a big role in their title win too. The likes of Luka Modric, Brahim Diaz and Joselu have all played valuable roles without being starters, while in recent weeks we've also seen the likes of Arda Guler come to the fore.

Los Blancos' title win this season has had a lot to do with professionalism, and those players who've had limited opportunities to start have never wavered from the task. When their opportunities have come, they've almost always responded in positive fashion.

Along with a Real Madrid win, I'll back the man of the moment Joselu to score anytime after being rewarded with a start, as well as 1+ shot on target for a well-rested Brahim Diaz.

Cadiz v Getafe - Sun, 13:00

It's getting to pretty much now or never time for Cadiz, who come into the weekend six points from safety and with just four games to go. Their quest to stay up looks unlikely, but it's far from impossible, especially if they can clinch a victory at home to Getafe this weekend.

According to Opta, Cadiz have the second-easiest run-in to finish the season in terms of opponent difficulty, but that won't count for much unless they can pick up three points on Sunday. Throw in the fact that their closest competitors Mallorca face a Las Palmas side who've lost seven in a row and the urgency to win for Mauricio Pellegrino's side only heightens.

The good news is Cadiz are almost always competitive when they play at the Nuevo Mirandilla. No team outside of the current top eight in La Liga has won there this season, and their only defeat in their last five home games came against Barcelona - a pretty sturdy record for a team who are desperately trying to stay in the division.

As for Getafe, they've not been too hot on the road this season. Only Atletico Madrid (+25) have a bigger margin between points won at home versus away than Getafe (+15) this season, with Jose Bordalas' side winning 29 on their own patch and just 14 on the road.

Indeed, Getafe haven't been in particularly great form since losing top scorer Borja Mayoral to injury. They've only won two of their nine games when the 27-year-old hasn't started this term, while their goals per game average of 1.4 when he has been in the starting XI drops to 0.7 per game when he isn't.

Against a visiting side not particularly playing for much, and struggling for form since losing their best player, this has to be the day Cadiz take a step towards an unlikely survival.

Atletico Madrid v Celta Vigo - Sun, 15:15

Atletico Madrid are very nearly there in terms of securing their Champions League qualification for next season, with a six-point gap to their closest competitors Athletic. Diego Simeone's side don't have any time to relax completely, but would have to collapse in a pretty major fashion if they're to miss out from here.

Despite what will inevitably be remembered as a fairly par season for los Colchoneros, when playing on home soil they've been pretty much as good as anyone. They've won 15 of their 17 games at the Civitas Metropolitano this season (D1 L1), with only champions Real Madrid (47) collecting more home points than Atletico (46).

If you go even further back, Simeone's team have the best home record in La Liga since the end of the 2022 World Cup, taking 80 points from their 30 games (W26 D2 L2). The last team to win there that wasn't either Real Madrid or Barcelona was Villarreal all the way back in August 2022.

With respect to their opponents, Celta Vigo should be a tougher nut to crack than they were just a few months ago. Since Rafa Benitez was sacked, the Galician side have won half of their games under new boss Claudio Giraldez (W3 D1 L2) and played some much more expansive football in the meantime. Indeed, their three wins under Giraldez are just one fewer than they managed in their last 24 under Benitez (4).

Celta are easier on the eye now and should carry a threat, but their defensive record remains far from formidable. Away to an Atletico side who average 2.4 goals per game at the Metropolitano in La Liga this season, I'll opt for the hosts to win and cover the -1 handicap.

Along with that, I'll add a goal anytime for Angel Correa. Diego Simeone has been keen to reward him with more playing time at the back end of the season, and has the second-best minutes per goal ratio (141) for the club this term. "I think the numbers end up speaking for themselves about Correa," Simeone said last week.

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