I was very pleased to speak with Granada fan Adam (who you can and should follow at @AdamLaLiga on Twitter. We talk about a special club with a special manager making a special run in La Liga and Europe.
What makes Granada special as a club?
For me, it’s community spirit of the club, everyone is so welcoming and friendly no matter where you come from and I can speak from experience. Being English born and living in England the way I was welcome into the Granada family was truly incredible and I can now say that I am and still remain to this day a proud member of a Granada Pena based in Madrid. We may be a small club in Spain but we’re all a family and I’d take this any day over supporting Barca or Real Madrid for the glory days, when we have success it means so much more than it does to fans of those two clubs in my opinion.
We also have the best backdrop to any football stadium in Spain with the Sierra Nevada seen on matchday from the stadium and our ground is also situated in a little neighbourhood with lots of small bars including Pena Los Carmenes which is always popular on matchdays to not just members of all Granada Penas across Spain but even to those who aren’t members of penas. It’s not your upper class snobby Spanish football experience you’d see at Barca or Real Madrid, it’s just true, proper and traditional and it’s well and truly a proper Spanish football experience.
Talk to me a little bit about the Copa Del Rey Derby with Malaga.
When the draw was made last Friday I was hoping we’d get Malaga and when we did my initial feeling was pure excitement because to play them again is something I wanted us to and on Sunday it will happen.
An hour later and sadness creeped in as it dawned on me that of course due to the way the world is at the moment there will be no fans and I like many Granada fans can’t attend. Malaga is our main Derby and it’s without doubt the club we get on with most in the region of Andalusia
The relationship pre-match is absolutely incredible with both sets of fans mixing with no trouble at all, there’s also a pena bar where Malaga’s penas meet up and in turn so do our travelling pena members, it’s just incredibly special the relationship we have with Malaga.
I can only wish them the best apart from Sunday of course, it’s making me emotional and upset just telling you all this because the fact that it’s going to have no fans is just devastating. They’re still in difficult financial times but I just want to be able to have them back in La Liga again so we can have two great derbies again every season.
Editor’s note: Granada went on to win that match 2-1 with goals from Fede Vico and Jorge Molina.
What has it been like playing in the Europa League for the first time and how do you like your chances against Napoli?
Playing in the Europa League for the first time has been absolutely incredible but of course it’s been dampened by the fact that none of our fans can experience it in person which is absolutely devastating but on the other hand even though we can only watch on TV we’re still able to watch a Granada team play in a European competition and we’ll never ever forget that.
It was typical that we’d get some great away days in the group stages given that none of us can go and Napoli over two legs just adds to that, that would have been two special nights and with thousands of Granadinistas in Naples it truly would have been unforgettable.
As for our chances against them, listen if Napoli perform to the best of their ability of the two legs then they’ll probably beat us but anything can happen over two legs and you can’t write this Granada side off in any game. If we can produce the defensive solidity we are capable of in the first leg then I’m confident we can take a lead to Naples and avoid conceding that away goal.
The motto for me in the first leg is to keep it solid and tight at the back and let Gattuso and his lads worry about the likes of Machis, Suarez, Kenedy, Soldado and Puertas. We can hurt them in attack no question.
Luis Suarez was, to my knowledge, your record arrival in terms of transfer fees last summer. How would you evaluate his performances so far in a Granada shirt?
Luis Suarez has been our best signing of the summer no question and he’s along with Machis been the best performer for us this season in my opinion but as always with this team it’s hard to single out individuals and I’ve no doubt that if you asked several Granada fans you’d get different responses as to who’s been our best performer this season.
He is in fine goalscoring form and you guys should be extremely worried about facing him but as I’ve just mentioned as with regards to the Napoli tie, our attack are bang in form right now and we are returning to our very best in terms of our defensive solidity and the performance against Osasuna emphasised this.
In what ways has Diego Martinez changed this club since taking over in 2018, and what makes him such a perfect fit as manager of Granada?
Diego Martinez has not only made this team incredibly difficult to beat, incredibly well organised at the back, he’s made this team a unit, a family and brought them together. If a team is close then you get an extra 5-10% out of them in performance levels and believe me, this team is incredibly close.
It’s well and truly a family, everyone fights for each other so it’s not surprise that this team gives me 100% in effort every single game and as a fan that’s all you can ask for. I absolutely adore Diego Martinez, he’s the only man for the job and with the news Lopetegui has extended his deal until 2024 with Sevilla this week not only did Sevilla fans celebrate but many Granada fans did also.
Diego Martinez will one day leave Granada but in my honest opinion there’s only one club he’ll leave us for and it’s Sevilla so Lopetegui staying at Sevilla and doing well is what we want to see (as long as it’s not against us).
Because he manages little old Granada doesn’t get anywhere near the level of credit or recognition he deserves but he’s easily in the top 6 coaches in La Liga for me. He has also continued to show his vast tactical depth and knowledge to be able to use different systems with this squad and he has no problem in reading a game and then changing the system during it to give us an advantage in close games.
Editor’s note: Martinez managed in the academy at Sevilla from 2010-2017
What tactical features should Villarrreal fans be looking for when they face Granada?
As I’ve just mentioned we are able to use different systems and change to different systems during a game and this will give Emery lots to think about on Wednesday night not just before the game kicks off but also during it. We can play 5 at the back, we can play 4-2-3-1, a 4-3-3, we can also do other systems. To Villarreal fans, I say this your coach will have lots to think about in this game, our attack is bang in form and you can expect a very very difficult game oh and as I’ve mentioned already we’re returning to our best levels in terms of our defensive solidity. This won’t be another 4-4 like last season.
Score prediction for Villarreal vs Granada?
I think we’re capable of getting a point from this one so I’m going to go for a 1-1.