Evening all! Week 21 in La Liga is completed as Sevilla welcome a struggling Granada
outfit to the Estadio Ramon. Sevilla picked up a 1-1 draw against Getafe in the league last time out, while Granada picked up a welcome three points against high-flying Rayo Vallecano. Neither side has had much to get excited about this season, but there is still much to play for in the second part of the campaign.
In terms of the recent meetings between the two sides, both have won one of the last three matches. The pair have already met this season at Granada in August 2012, with the points being shared in a 1-1 draw. However, the corresponding fixture last season ended in a comprehensive 3-0 success for Sevilla. A similar result would move them up the league table.
Let’s take a closer look at how both teams have fared in the league this season. Sevilla currently sit in 13th position in the table with 23 points from 20 matches. Despite being tipped to challenge for a European spot, they sit just five points outside of the bottom three. However, three points this evening would move them into 11th spot, but still some nine points off the top four.
They also enter the match having taken just five points from the last 18 an offer. That is in contrast to Barcelona who top the form table on 15 points alongside Rayo Vallecano. Meanwhile, Getafe sit bottom with just three points from their last six matches. Granada have fared slightly better in recent weeks, taking eight points during the same period.
SEVILLA: Cuesta; Navarro, Spahic, Fazio, Cicinho; Reyes, Rakitic, Medel, Kondogbia, Navas; Negredo
GRANADA: Roberto; Diakhate, Siqueira, Nyom, Mainz; Iriney, Brahimi Rico, Recio; Ighalo, Orellana
So there we have it. Strong starting side for Sevilla with Jose Antonio Reyes and Jesus Navas flanking the lone forward Alvaro Negredo
. Meanwhile, Gary Medel
and Cicinho also both start. Granada welcome Mikel Rico back into proceedings along with Iriney Santos, but Dani Benitez is still out with a long-term injury.
Granada currently occupy 17th position in the table, just two points outside of the bottom three. However, with a game in hand, they could open up a five-point gap over those below them with victory this evening. The proximity of the league table is demonstrated with just five points from 18th to 13th-placed Sevilla. It promises to be an enthralling end to the season at both ends of the table.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at how both teams have fared this season. Sevilla have conceded 29 goals in their 20 matches thus far, that number is shared by Granada, who have conceded the same amount in the same number of games. However, Sevilla have kept two more clean sheets (five) than their opponents this evening.
In terms of the goals scored column, Sevilla have registered 24 goals in their 20 matches thus far. Granada have struggled, however, scoring just 18 times, the second-lowest total in the division. Just to put that into context with the rest of the division, Barcelona have scored an incredible 71 league goals, while Real Madrid have hit 54.
Sevilla’s home form has been fairly encouraging with five wins, one draw and three defeats from nine matches, while they have managed just one win away from home. Granada’s away form is also slightly better than would be expected for a team languishing at the bottom, they have managed three wins from 10 matches on the road, just one less than Malaga and Atletico Madrid.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch. The pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. Just about time for my pre-match prediction, Sevilla were impressive last time out against Real Zaragoza and therefore I am backing a home win this evening. Granada get the action underway.
Confident start from the home side with Jesus Navas gaining possession before finding Ivan Rakitic in the middle of midfield. The latter attempts to find the run of Negredo behind the Granada defence, but it comes to nothing. Not a full house inside the stadium, but there is a decent atmosphere.
Sevilla continue to make most of the early running as they pass and probe outside the Granada penalty area. A reminder that new Sevilla boss Unai Emery has yet to taste defeat since taking charge of the club. He will expect that to continue this evening. A half-chance comes to Reyes as he strikes an effort from outside the box, but it moves high of the crossbar.
Not too much to get excited about for the away supporters thus far with Granada just attempting to feel their way into the match. Three points for the away side would move them clear of the relegation zone with little under half of the season remaining. Reyes causes problems once more down the right, but his searching cross is headed clear by the skipper Mainz.
Again the home side come close as Reyes darts into the box before striking a low cross towards Negredo, but once more Mainz is across to clear. Granada attempt to launch a counter with Mikel Rico, who in turn finds Ighalo, but the pacey Nigerian striker cannot gather under pressure from Fazio.
Another half-chance comes from Reyes as the winger strikes a powerful effort from outside the box, but Roberto pushes it wide of the target. The resulting corner creates a heading chance for Navarro, but the Spaniard can only fire wide of the target from close range. Sevilla have certainly taken control of the early stages of this match.
It really is all one-way traffic at the moment as Navas darts into the penalty area before driving a low cross into the box, but Mainz is across to clear. The resulting corner comes close to bringing the opening goal as Fazio collects a loose ball in the box, but he can only clip wide following a smart save from Roberto.
Granada force their first corner of the match following good work from Recio. However, the resulting delivery from Iriney is some way short of what is required with Fazio on hand to clear with an easy header. The tempo has just been interrupted with a host of fouls in and around the centre circle in the past few minutes. The score remains 0-0 with 14 minutes on the clock.
Another half-chance comes to Sevilla as Negredo collects a loose ball in the penalty area before striking towards goal, but he just scuffs his shot at the vital moment. Navas picks up possession moments later, but the Spaniard just runs out of room. Granada just need to take control of the ball in order to quell this early pressure. The Sevilla opener does appear to be coming.
Again Granada are in all sorts of trouble in defence as a Reyes corner causes problems in the penalty area. The shooting opportunity comes to Negredo as the Spaniard is found by Cicinho, but Diakhate is across to make a strong block. Granada clear the danger momentarily, but it just keeps on coming back. Wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium at the moment.
Sevilla continue to pass and probe outside the penalty area with Kondogbia acting as a shield in front of their back four. In truth, they could have played without a defence in this match thus far. Granada do gain some attacking territory with a couple of throws, but they come to nothing with the final pass once more lacking.
Reyes is the latest player to have his name taken as the Sevilla winger makes a high challenge on Orellana. The Chilean forward takes the resulting free kick, but Iriney can only turn wide of the post. Not too much to get excited about, but at least it is something for the away supporters to cheer. It remains 0-0 with little under half of the first period played.
Another half-chance for Sevilla as Negredo collects a pass from Rakitic before rounding the goalkeeper, but the Spaniard just takes it too wide of the goal. Navas comes across to have an effort on goal, but the danger is scrambled clear. Granada launch a counter down the other end, but once more it comes to nothing with the final pass lacking.
You just get the feeling that if Sevilla score the first goal in this match then they will go onto win comfortably. Granada are closing out the danger as they hold onto their clean sheet, but they will be forced to change should the home side open the scoring. Slightly scrappy period of the match in the last few moments with a host of challenges flying in from both sides.
Granada want a free kick as Iriney is felled on the edge of the Sevilla box, but the referee shakes his head. The home side launch a counter attack, but Navas just makes the wrong decision in the final third, deciding to shoot rather than find the pass to Medel. Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining, Sevilla in control, but no goals to report thus far.
It's decent pressure from the away side as Orellana turns before finding Ighalo in the penalty area. The Nigerian strikes turns in the box, but he just holds possession for too long and Fazio is across to clear the danger. That is poor from the forward. However, Granada have just started to enjoy some decent pressure as Nyom tests Cuesta from close range.
The pressure continues as Orellana whips a dangerous corner into the penalty area, but Rico just cannot make contract, with Reyes carrying possession out of defence before being felled by Mainz. Much more of an even contest as things stand, with Sevilla just becoming extremely wasteful in the final third of the pitch.
GOAL! Sevilla 1-0 Granada (Kondogbia)
Kondogbia opens his account for the club as the powerful midfielder meets a corner from Rakitic before thumping his header into the back of the net. That is brilliant movement from the Frenchman. You have to worry for Granada having conceded the opening goal.
Kondogbia comes close to scoring his second moments later as he drives into the penalty area, but Mainz comes across to make a challenge at the final moment. The home supporters wanted a penalty as the Frenchman was felled, but the referee shakes his head. Meanwhile, Rico fires straight at Cuesta down the other end.
CHANCE! Navas comes close to scoring Sevilla's second and his first goal of the season as he meets a bouncing ball before lifting his effort towards the top corner, but Roberto makes a fine save. The resulting corner also causes problems in the box, but Nyom rises high to clear under pressure from Negredo.
Granada just cannot get to grips with this match at the moment as they continue to give possession away in their own half. Navas and Reyes continue to cause all sorts of problems with their pace and attacking movement, eventually Rakitic has a strike from outside the box, but it is well wide of the target.
Granada just appeared to have stemmed the tide in the last couple of moments with a decent spell of possession in midfield. However, they are no closer to testing the home side's goalkeeper. Little under five minutes of the first period remaining and Sevilla are once more on the attack down the left with Reyes, who is enjoying a productive half.
Sevilla continue to dominate the possession as we enter the final couple of minutes of the half. You just get the feeling that should Sevilla score again, then it would be almost impossible for Granada to respond. A half-chance comes to the home side as Orellana handballs outside the box, but Reyes's set piece comes to nothing.
Sevilla end the half in the ascendancy as Rakitic picks up possession before striking an effort towards goal, but it just moves wide of the post. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional one minute of stoppage time at the end of the half.
HALF-TIME: Sevilla 1-0 Granada
So there we have it. The referee brings the opening period to an end with Sevilla leading courtesy of a header from Kondogbia after 32 minutes. In truth, it could have been a lot more with the home side dominating proceedings against a side that is just outside of the relegation places in La Liga.
Let's take a look at some statistics from the opening half of football. Sevilla have dominated the possession with 59%, while they have had 10 attempts to Granada's two, which have both been on target. It is hard to see the away side coming back from this position, but a goal early in the second period would give them hope.
Let's take a look at the benches this evening. The home side have a host of attacking options in reserve with the likes of Manu and Diawara taking their place on the bench. Granada also have options, however, with Torje and Juanma Ortiz in their 18-man squad this evening. Both managers could influence proceedings from the sidelines.
Just a quick reminder of what we have to come this week on Sports Mole. The first leg of the semi-final Copa del Rey clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona will be brought to you on Wednesday, with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla to follow the next evening. Be sure to join us for that.
Here we go then. Both sets of players join us on the pitch ahead of the second period. No changes for either side at the interval which is not all that surprising at this stage of proceedings. As it stands Sevilla would move into 11th position, while Granada would remain 17th. Sevilla get the second half underway.
Strong start from Sevilla with Kondogbia finding Navas down the right, but Siqueira comes across to clear the danger. The pressure continues as Rakitic finds Negredo in the box, but the Spaniard just cannot turn and find a shot. No respite for Granada on the pitch in the early stages of this half.
Another half-chance comes to the home side as Rakitic collects possession in the box before firing a low cross towards Negredo. However, the attack is cut short as the linesman raises his flag. Replays have shown that it was a poor decision with the Croatian at least a yard onside. That could well have been game over.
Granada appear to have a problem here with Recio hurting himself in a challenge with Cicinho. It doesn't stunt the progress of the home side as Negredo attempts to find Navas behind the defence, but he cannot find his Spanish teammate. Granada attack down the other end with Brahimi, but once more the final pass is poor.
Still not too much for the away supporters to get excited about as they remained penned into their own penalty area. Meanwhile, it does appear that Siqueira will have to be replaced here as the Granada defender walks around holding his back. Surely the change should be made sooner rather than later?!
Sevilla launch another counter attack as Medel finds Reyes on the right, the former Arsenal winger delivers a cross into the penalty area, but Roberto is out to collect the danger. The end-to-end period of the match continues as Rikel advances down the other end, but his final pass towards Ighalo is just short, with the Nigerian unable to collect.
Granada are indeed forced into the change as Siqueira is replaced by Juanma Ortiz. The former has been really struggling in this second period and that injury could keep him out for the next couple of weeks. Back to the action, Sevilla continue to dominate possession with little over 30 minutes of normal time remaining.
Slight controversy here as Diakhate launches into a high challenge with Medel, leaving the midfielder with a serious cut on his head. The referee awards the Granada defender a yellow card when it perhaps should have been red. Slightly scrappy period of the match in the last few minutes with neither side taking too much care in possession.
Orellana attempts to force the issue for the away side as he drives into the penalty area before finding Nyom outside the box, but the defender can only fire his effort over the crossbar. That is just about as close as they have come in this second period. Meanwhile, good news for the home side as the patched-up Medel returns to the pitch.
Still no movement on the home side's bench which is not all too surprising based on how the match is progressing, but they will be keen to score the second goal. The challenges continue to fly in, however, with Cicinho the latest player to have his name taken for a late challenge on Riko. There is just no passing tempo with little over 25 minutes remaining.
Half-chance for Navas as the Sevilla winger strikes an effort from outside the box, but it was always dragging wide of the post. Meanwhile, the away side make their second change of the match as Carlos Aranda replaces Ighalo, who has really struggled this evening. You just get the feeling that there is another goal or two in this match.
Decent pressure from the away side in the last few minutes with Orellana the liveliest of their forward players. The Chilean crafts some space outside the box before finding Santos in the penalty area, but the Brazilian cannot turn and find a shot with Fazio in close contact. You can almost sense some nervousness inside the stadium with the home side leading by just the single goal.
Again it's good football from the away side as Riko finds Recio in the penalty area, but the Spaniard just cannot find room for a shot with Fazio coming across to make the challenge. This last few minutes will certainly have given Granada hope that they can push on in the remaining 20 minutes or so.
Granada make their third and final change of the match as Torje replaces Nyom. Attacking change from the away side with a midfielder coming on for a defender. It really is all or nothing. They will either concede or score, I would be surprised if there was not another goal in the remaining stages as the match begins to open up.
GOAL! Sevilla 2-0 Granada (Negredo)
Sevilla all but wrap up the three points as Rakitic finds the head of Negredo in the penalty area, with the Spaniard on hand to thump his effort into the back of the net. That is just about it for this one. Negredo is now on 14 goals for the season. Meanwhile, the home side make a change as Manu del Moral replaces Reyes.
Rico is the latest player to have his name taken for a foul on Reyes. The Spaniard has been moved to right-back since Nyom has removed which is a strange decision. The second goal came down the side of the midfielder. This could get worse for the away side in the remaining 15 minutes or so.
Decent football from Granada as Torje cuts inside before finding Recio outside the penalty area, but the Spaniard just cannot find a strike under pressure from Fazio. Sevilla advance down the other end, forcing a corner in the process, but it comes to nothing with Roberto punching clear of the box.
GOAL! Sevilla 3-0 Granada (Medel)
The resulting corner does bring the third goal, however, as Negredo finds Medel in the penalty area. The midfielder takes one touch before firing his effort into the back of the net. That is very poor defending from the away side. This could get really nasty in the latter stages.
The home side make another change as Maduro replaces Negredo, who will now put his feet up ahead of Thursday's Copa del Rey semi-final clash against Atletico Madrid. Little over 10 minutes of the match remaining and Sevilla continue to dominate possession. Granada have simply fallen apart in the last few minutes.
Cicinho continues to march down the right as the Brazilian combines with Navas before finding the winger once more. Eventually Navas has a powerful strike on goal, but Roberto makes a fine save. Meanwhile, it appears that Sevilla are preparing their third and final change of the match.
Half-chance for the away side as Brahimi turns on the edge of the box before striking a powerful effort on goal, but Cuesta is across to make the save. The resulting corner is taken by Iriney, but Fazio heads clear. Meanwhile, the home side's third change is indeed made with Rakitic being replaced by Stevanovic.
Not too much to get excited about in the last few minutes with neither side taking too much care in possession of the ball. Navas has a half-chance to advance into the Granada penalty area as he darts down the right, but Mainz is across to make the challenge. The same two clash moments later, allowing Navas to whip a free kick into the box, but Roberto turns just wide.
Little over three minutes of normal time remaining and Sevilla come close once more as Manu collects possession before driving into the box, but the striker just cannot find the target from close range. Stevanovic comes close with a looping header moments later, but Roberto is on hand to collect.
Granada simply have to start picking up points in the coming weeks. They play Real Madrid and Barcelona in their next few matches, but do have winnable matches in the latter stages of the season. They will remain outside the relegation zone despite this result, but it is just so close at the bottom. It's Sevilla with possession in the final minute of normal time.
Granada continue to make reckless challenges in the latter stages as Ortiz is the latest player to have his name taken. The resulting free kick is taken by Navas, but the danger is scrambled clear. Meanwhile, the fourth official indicates that we will play an additional three minutes of stoppage time and we are into the first of those.
Granada force a couple of corners in the final moments of the match, but neither comes close to testing the Sevilla goalkeeper. The home supporters are in full voice as we enter the final 30 seconds of normal time. A 3-0 score is just about correct on the balance of play.
FULL-TIME: Sevilla 3-0 Granada
So there we have it. Sevilla make it back-to-back wins as they move into 11th position in the table courtesy of a 3-0 win over Granada, who remain just one spot outside of the relegation zone. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action and be sure to join us for a host of live commentaries in the coming week. Until then!