Real Madrid had to overcome a one goal deficit again to get their needed three points. Jose Mourinho gave Esteban Granero, Hamit Altintop and Ricardo Carvalho another chance to start, and while the two defenders looked a little sloppy, Granero completed a good game overall.
The other star player of the game for Real Madrid was clearly Mesut Özil. The German has come back from Christmas break in real good shape and is finally looking as good as last season. Özil has given seven assists in January and today scored his first goal of 2012.
Real Madrid's lineup was a statement of intent. Granero and Xabi Alonso together suggested that the team wanted to have full control of the tempo and possession of the ball, though these two players are often too slow for what Real Madrid needs.
While both Granero and Alonso were still getting into the rhythm, Zaragoza scored a very smart goal, and caught Carvalho and the whole defensive line sleeping. Although it was only the 11th minute, this is Real Madrid's 10th game without a clean sheet. The defense is not looking as sharp as other aspects of Madrid's roster, but as long as the strikers keep their ability to score more than two goals, the team will earn three points every time.
The team didn't react as well as expected after Zaragoza's goal. Granero participated well, but he slowed the tempo and the speed too much. He is looking good lately, but the Spanish midfielder needs to realize that Real Madrid often requires him to pass the ball a little bit earlier.
Kaká had a good chance to equalize the score with a header, but the ball went over the top of Zaragoza's goal. Although the Brazilian midfielder didn't play as well as in other games, he was in the right place for almost every play and scored Real Madrid's first goal after a great pass from Ricardo Carvalho. Kaká is slowly getting into the form he showed last October, when he was performing at a very good level.
Unluckily for Real Madrid, the team couldn't score the second goal before halftime, so the players knew they were going to need one more goal in order to maintain the five-point lead against FC Barcelona.
Shortly after the second half started, Granero delivered a great pass to the right wing, right where Özil was headed. The German player crossed the ball to the box and Cristiano Ronaldo only had to push it inside Zaragoza's goal. Santiago Bernabéu's crowd then started to chant at the Portuguese striker, who clearly enjoyed this moment. He had a hard time llast month when the Bernabeu asked him to do more, and he surely has fulfilled these demands by pressing more and helping defensively.
The team was already in a comfortable situation being up in the score, so Zaragoza pushed a bit more offensively until Mesut Özil received the ball inside the box and scored his first goal of the month. With that goal, Özil earned a standing ovation from the Bernabeu. The German is obviously a very important player for José Mourinho, especially when Di María is out, so it will be very good for the team to recover him.
Xabi Alonso left the field for Lass Diarrá due to a groin injury. Callejón and Higuaín entered the game for Kaká and Benzema and Madrid started to care solely about the possession of the ball. Marcelo got injured as well but kept playing in the right wing so he didn't need to run a lot. Mourinho didn't sub him because he had already made his three substitutions, so Callejón moved to Marcelo's spot until the game was over. Marcelo didn't play as well as other times, but he is key to this team. Nonetheless, if he is going to miss a lot of games, Coentrao is more than ready for that task. That's an area in which Real Madrid has improved from last year: the backup left-back.
The last minutes of the game were really meaningless, and when the referee called the end of the match, the Bernabéu showed their approval of the team for another good come back. Real Madrid will now enjoy two days off and will come back to the training field on Tuesday to prepare for the next la Liga game next Saturday against Getafe.