Back in April 2017, former Arsenal player, Tony Adams, was appointed coach of Spanish top-flight club Granada. Adams was a personal friend of the owner and was brought in to try and prevent the club from being relegated. His first training sessions were caught on video and went viral – unfortunately, they lost all seven games under the Englishman and sunk back to the second tier. It was a dark period for the club who had only returned to La Liga in 2011 after a 35-year absence and were fearful of another long period in the wilderness.
Tony Adams new training regime is underway at Granada! You can’t beat it 😉 pic.twitter.com/x34Lk3wlCJ
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) April 15, 2017
The start of the revival
Fortunately, the fans did not have to wait as long this time around. After a 10th-place finish in the Segunda Division in 2017/18, they appointed former Sevilla assistant Diego Martinez as first-team coach and he immediately turned their fortunes around achieving promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt.
Martinez was just 39 years old when the 2019/20 La Liga campaign kicked off, making him the youngest coach in the division that season. He guided them to their best-ever start and after 10 matches they reached the top of the table and stayed there for two weeks. The club responded by extending his contract for another year.
Martinez was operating with one of the tightest budgets in the league but recruited wisely and kept the club in the top-half of the table for the entire season eventually finishing seventh and qualifying for Europe for the first time in their history.
The Road to Europe
Nobody would have been surprised if the club faded again after punching above their weight in the first season back – especially with Europa League games added to their agenda. However, they continued where they left off in 2020/21, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid in the opening stages of the season and establishing themselves as European qualifying contenders once again.
On top of all this, they stunned everybody by progressing through the qualifying stages of the Europa League and then finishing second in Group E. This was followed by a knockout win over Italian giants Napoli, which defied the odds, as well as a Round of 16 victory over Molde. This set up a dream quarter-final clash with Manchester United, their first-ever meeting with an English team.
Still Big Odds Available at the Bookies
If you bet on La Liga on a regular basis, you probably wouldn’t have had Granada on your list of teams to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League. They have continued to defy the odds at all the best bookmakers, not just in Europe but also in La Liga. Diego Martinez’s men can be backed as high as 28/1 to win the Europa League with the likes of Bet365, who are read very highly as one of the best sportsbook options on bookmaker comparison sites. However, overcoming the Red Devils will be a mammoth task due to the sheer amount of talent at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s disposal. However, if you fancy Granada to go one better than last year’s seventh-place finish in La Liga, you can get a massive 40/1 with Unibet for them to secure a top-six finish in the Spanish top flight.
⏱FINAL | 🔴⚪️2️⃣-0️⃣🔵⚪️
— Granada C.F. 🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@GranadaCF_en) February 18, 2021
Flying the Flag for Spain
In a season where many Spanish teams have fallen short on the European stage, the minnows of Granada have bucked the trend. And best of all, they have done it in style, playing bold and expansive football with a never-say-die attitude. Not only have Granada turned around their fortunes under Diego Martinez, but they have also reached brand new heights.
What Next for Granada?
The next phase in the Nazaríes history could be crucial. Martinez’s achievements could see him targeted by bigger clubs and he will be a tough act to follow. But whatever happens, fans of the small club from Andalusia are enjoying every second of their adventure.