Season preview: Granada

Season preview: Granada
© PA Photos
Sports Mole assesses Granada's chances of success in the new La Liga season.

Granada did not make too many noises in La Liga last season, eventually finishing 15th in the table, some six points ahead of the bottom three.

Lucas Alcaraz has made some clever signings this summer, however, with some suggestions that they could break into the top half of the table.

Here, Sports Mole predicts how the Spanish outfit will fare in the new league campaign.

In: Yacine Brahimi (Rennes), Douglas Santos (Nautico), Gai Assulin (Racing), Manuel Iturra (Malaga), Piti (Rayo Vallecano), Alvato Garcia (San Fernando), Riki (Deportivo La Coruna), Alexandre Coeff (Udinese – Loan), Orestis Karnezis (Udinese – Loan)

Out: Inigo Lopez (PAOK), Hector Yuste (Hercules – Loan), Juanma Ortiz (Hercules – Loan), Gai Assulin (Hercules – Loan), Manuel Lucena (Mirandes), David de Coz (Lugo), Ikechi Anya (Watford), Iriney (Watford), Richie Kitoko (Real Jean – Loan), Jona (Real Jean – Loan), Daniel Pudil (Watford), Tono (Elche), Silvian Widmer (Udinese), David Ferreiro (Hercules - Loan)

Last season: 15th

Manager: Lucas Alcaraz

Three key players:

Rayo Vallecano's Piti heads the ball during the La Liga match with Real Madrid on February 17, 2013© AP Photos
Piti: It was not a surprise that the Spaniard departed Rayo Vallecano after six years at the club this summer, but with respect to Granada, it was a surprise that a team higher in the table did not acquire his signature. The 32-year-old, who can operate through the middle or off the main striker, struck a very impressive 18 league goals for Rayo last season, the joint-sixth best total in the division. Granada struggled for goals last season, with their 37 strikes in 38 games among the worst record in the league. It was imperative that they looked for a goalscorer this summer, but surely they did not expect to pick one up on a free transfer. At the age of 32, Piti is coming into his prime as a footballer, while his wealth of experience in Spanish football is a major plus for Granada in the new campaign.

Malaga's Diego Buonanotte in action on December 4, 2012© AP Photos
Diego Buonanotte: When Buonanotte burst onto the scene in the early stages of his career, he had been expected to move to the very top. In truth, it hasn't quite happened for the Argentine, who at the age of 25, has not yet realised his potential. That said, it was a surprise when Malaga sanctioned his sale in January, with the midfielder joining Granada for a minimal fee. He had been expected to become an automatic choice for his new side, but again, it just didn't quite happen, with one league goal in 11 league appearances a disappointing return for a player of his ability. He is the type of player that needs to feel loved, needs to feel as if he is making a difference. If he can get his head right in the new season, he could become a serious talent for Granada.

Granada midfielder Dani Benitez on November 9, 2012© Getty Images
Dani Benitez: Although the 26-year-old is not officially contracted to Granada, he has been with the Spanish outfit since 2009. He joined Udinese from Real Mallorca four years ago, but has strangely not made a single appearance for the Serie A side, spending that entire period on loan at Granada. He has made 106 league appearances for his current club, scoring 17 goals in the process. There is no question that he has had his disciplinary problems in the past – with the midfielder gaining a three-month suspension for throwing a bottle at referee Carlos Clos Gomez during a 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid. Underneath the dramatics, there is a very talented footballer, who has been a key member of the team in recent seasons. If he can find some consistency, then Granada could make a push into the top half of the table.

First game: Osasuna (A), Aug 18

Sports Mole says: There is no question that the club have made some very intelligent signings in the transfer market thus far with former Deportivo La Coruna striker Riki, who scored 13 league goals last season, also joining this summer. They found the back of the net on just 37 occasions in the league last season, but their strength in defence allowed them to move clear of the relegation zone. The midfield has also been boosted by the signing of Manuel Iturra from Malaga, who will provide a presence in the middle of the park. However, the teams that they will be battling with next season have also strengthened, which makes it difficult to see them pushing into the top half of the table. That said, it would be a surprise if they found themselves pulled into a relegation scrap come the end of the season.

Predicted finish: 14th

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone during the Europa League match against Rubin Kazan on February 14, 2013
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