Diego Martínez, a low-profile coach and product of the “Monchi Factory” (winning with Sevilla’s youth team and taking Sevilla B up to Spain’s second division), is now at the helm at recently promoted Granada, who have no glittering stars and catch the eye with their commitment and togetherness. Their biggest name is the seasoned Soldado, who brings a certain astute seniority to the side at difficult moments, and their formula is coarse but effective: positioning, smart collective movement, concentration, and an instinct for punishing opponents.
A far cry from tiki-taka
This is a long way from Spanish football’s finest hours, with its tiki-taka that made heads spin and bore limited but gilt-edged chances. From a brand of football that brought silverware, to both La Roja and Barça, a footballing method with Xavi and Iniesta at its heart, countering the old myth of force and fury and turning Spain into a major exporter of managers and players for the first time. Ever since, Spain has been football’s biggest certified designation of origin, its most exportable product, let’s say. But football, like everything in life, shifts and swings, and here we have Granada at the top of the table applying a different formula.
The word would be intensity, but I’m not sure it’s appropriate. Tiki-taka was intense in its zeal for possession, but Granada’s approach, like Cholo’s at Atlético, is physically intense, intense in the fight for every last inch on the pitch. As opposed to a drizzling rain that soaks through to the skin, almost forcing withdrawal, it creates a storm that blinds and startles. It’s all football and an equally worthy way to win – moreover, it is commendable that someone with more limited riches is able to win this way. It is more difficult to understand when there is someone with players that can offer more, and it’s not a matter of repeating well-known examples. That, though, is not the case with Granada, whose achievements adorn the front and back pages and bring happiness to the whole city.