So, my Granada side is back in the bottom three, but the good news is that we have a game in hand on the teams surrounding us.
Sporting Gijon, in 17th place, are still within our grasp, and we still have both Leganes and Alaves to play in our remaining fixtures. If we can take six points against our relegation rivals, we might just survive.
After a well-contested defeat to Real Madrid, the same team have had enough rest to be able to go again. Consistency is key in putting a run together, right?
An away trip to face Celta Vigo is next, and they’re sat in eight place in La Liga with European football still to play for. I opt for the 4-4-2 to start, as at the Bernabeu, but have a Plan B in which Andreas Pereira moves into the No.10 role, depending how the first half plays out.
A 13th-minute own goal from Ruben Vezo wasn’t quite the start that I wanted. Celta dominate the ball for the opening half an hour, too, so a disappointing Artem Kravets makes way for Pereira, who drops into the hole as planned.
At the break, I lie through my teeth and tell the lads they’ve been unlucky. We haven’t created anything of note at all. We deserve to be 1-0 behind. However, my deceit rewards me with a lot of green morale.
Just four minutes after the restart, Alex Martinez gives away a penalty. Giuseppe Rossi steps up to the spot and makes it 2-0 to the home side. And the team talk had gone so well…
I push Mubarak Wakaso and Mehdi Carcela further forward on the wings, in a desperate attempt to try and force a bit more of the play to be in Celta’s half. We don’t see much more possession, but we do create a few half-chances at least.
Eight minutes from time, we finally find a breakthrough, as Pereira steps up to a free-kick on the edge of the penalty box and curls home a beauty. We keep the pressure on and quickly manage to force a corner. It’s whipped in from the right, with substitute left-back Franck Tabanou doing well to bring the ball down and give it to Carcela near the penalty spot. The Moroccan shoots and, with the aid of a kind deflection off Nemanja Radoja, finds the back of the net. We’re back level with six minutes of normal time left to play.
But then, with only seconds left on the clock, Uche Agbo gives the ball away to Theo Bongonda on the edge of our box. The Belgian winger scampers into the area and tries his luck, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief when he drags his effort terribly wide.
A point salvaged from the jaws of defeat, and Pereira’s performance has earned him a place in the team when we’re away from home.
Leganes are the next team to pay a visit to our patch. They’re bottom of the table and are insistent on using a five-man defence and deep wingers that could cause problems in terms of creating chances. We’re going two up top to try and gain an advantage.
Leganes also have Lassana Diarra in midfield, which is just downright strange. Seeing how deep they are positioned, I change our mentality to attacking and push Carcela further on as an inside forward, with Dimitri Foulquier at right-back set to an attacking duty to offer width.
This time it’s our turn to profit from an own goal, with Alberto Martin touching home a cross under seemingly no pressure six minutes in to make it 1-0. Three minutes later, it’s two, as Carcela curls home a beautiful free-kick in Pereira’s absence.
And then, with just 15 minutes played, we surge into a 3-0 lead. Carcela appears to enjoy his advanced role and chops infield before smashing home a brilliant finish into the top corner.
After the third, I decided to calm things down and control the game, and we see the contest out without further incident, aside from Pereira coming off the bench to strike the crossbar. Three goals, a clean sheet and we don’t even allow Leganes a shot on target. We’re too good to be scrapping in the bottom three.
After playing on the Saturday, we have to wait a day to know the outcome of Sporting Gijon’s weekend game against Valencia.
Fortunately, a Dani Parejo penalty was enough to overcome Los Guajes at Mestalla, which keeps us two points clear of the relegation zone with two league matches left to play. Sporting replace us in the bottom three, for now.
Our two remaining fixtures are against Alaves at home and Athletic Bilbao away. With Nigel Reo-Coker by my side, we will give it everything to seal our miraculous survival.