La Liga Preview: Granada v Real Madrid
By Football News
Asier Illarramendi could be in line to make his Real Madrid debut when they travel to Granada in La Liga on Monday.
The midfielder moved to the Bernabeu from Real Sociedad in July after Madrid met his €39million buy-out clause, but failed to make an appearance in pre-season as he recovered from muscle injuries sustained during the UEFA European Under-21 Championship, which he helped Spain to win.
However, he took part in full training ahead of the game and will be a useful boost to Carlo Ancelotti's midfield numbers.
Xabi Alonso (foot) and Sami Khedira (knee) have been absent from training recently, with the former definitely ruled out.
Khedira limped out of Madrid's narrow 2-1 win over Real Betis last week and is likely to be replaced by Brazilian Casemiro, who came on in his place in the home victory.
Raphael Varane remains unavailable for selection due to a knee injury sustained at the end of last season, leaving Sergio Ramos and Pepe as the only senior centre-backs available to Ancelotti.
Isco is likely to continue in the creative hub for Madrid after scoring their late winner last week. Jorge Molina had given the Andalusian side a 14th-minute lead before Karim Benzema equalised shortly afterwards.
A frustrating game for Madrid looked to be heading for a draw, until the former Malaga man nodded home on his home debut in the dying embers.
Granada also kicked off their league campaign with a 2-1 success, impressively turning over Osasuna away from home.
Two goals in the space of seven first-half minutes from Hassan Yebda and Youssef El-Arabi were enough to seal the points and leave Granada one place above Madrid in the embryonic Liga table, thanks to alphabetical order.
Manager Lucas Alcaraz is likely to be without captain Diego Mainz, who was forced to sit out the win over Osasuna.
Goalkeeper Roberto will once again play through the pain of a toe injury, but experienced striker Carlos Aranda is sidelined.
Guilherme Siqueira was left out of Alcaraz's team last week amid rumours of a move to Liverpool or Real Madrid, with the 47-year-old boss admitting that the left-back is unlikely to feature for the club unless he remains after the transfer window closes.