Three goals for Madrid’s first 3 point haul of the season.
José Mourinho started the team in its usual 4-2-3-1 formation, but switched out 3 of his 4 attackers from the game on Wednesday against Barcelona. José Callejon came in for Angel di María, Karim Benzema for Gonzalo Higuaín and new signing Luka Modrić made his starting debut for Mesut Özil in the centre of the line-up.
Although it took the team a few minutes to get into their stride, they dominated the game from start to finish and kept Granada, who finished the game with 10 men, from scoring. At the end of the match, Iker Casillas had made no saves.
The stand-out performance of the first half was from Marcelo, who operated like an extra winger, passing well between the lines and playing well out of position high up the pitch.
More after the jump.
Madrid’s first goal came in the 26th minute, when José Callejon’s pass found Cristiano Ronaldo, who shot from what looked like an impossibly narrow angle. The ball found the back of the net and Ronaldo scored his first of the season in la Liga. It was the only goal of the first half.
Mourinho made his first substitution at half time, with Angel di María coming in for Callejon. Madrid had been dominating, but still lacked its cutting edge. Di María quickly gave his team the required spark, dribbling past defenders, putting his teammates into scoring positions, and earning several corners.
Madrid’s second goal in the 53rd minute was once again from Cristiano Ronaldo, another player who had an outstanding game.
Notes on other players: Modrić had a solid debut, passing the ball well and showing good energy; however, he was caught offside within the first minute of the game when he found himself on the end of a through-ball from Cristiano Ronaldo. He tackled well, ran well, and looked sharp and well-rested and entirely unimpressed by his surroundings. He looked as though he had been playing with the team for months. Still not entirely fit for the match, he was replaced by Özil in the 58th minute.
With Granada down to 10 men after an hour, the area in front of the goal-mouth was very congested and Marcelo, Özil, Benzema and di María were able to demonstrate how effectively they can split defences and maintain possession in close space.
Benzema and Higuaín also had an opportunity to show how well they can combine when they were both on the pitch together after Cristiano Ronaldo was taken off after receiving a slight knock. Benzema provided the final pass for Higuaín’s goal – Madrid’s third – a lovely team effort involving touches from every forward and finished off by Higuaín.
All in all it was a very satisfying, very solid game. Madrid dominated throughout and were rewarded with three goals and the first clean sheet of the season.
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