Just a week after winning El Clásico, Real Madrid was visiting Granada, and Carlo Ancelotti presented the same starting lineup he used against Barcelona. Considering Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 10 more goals (16) than the entire Granada squad this season (six), it didn't look good for the home team.
It only took Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo 1:36 to score the first goal of the game after Dani Carvajal brilliantly recovered a ball in Granada's territory. Dani then passed it to an open Karim Benzema in the box and the French striker quickly crossed it to Cristiano, who left Roberto without a chance. 0-1.
Granada's high pressing was actually good and forced a few turnovers. There were times when there were six Granada players in the visitor's half, but it didn't alter Ancelotti's 4-4-2 formation. On Real's side, Cristiano, Marcelo and James were by far the most dangerous players. The Colombian challenged Roberto a couple times with long shots without success.
The next great chance for Real Madrid came in the 22nd minute, as Benzema controlled the ball inside the box, turned around and shot but Roberto was able to make the save. Then, after a brilliant play featuring pretty much every player in black (from Marcelo to Isco, to Carvajal, to Modric, to Ronaldo), Carvajal ended up inside the box but his shot went high.
At the 30th minute, James Rodríguez scored one of the best goals of the year. Real Madrid had a throw in in the right wing. Benzema controlled it and assisted the Colombian who, without letting the ball hit the pitch, delivered a perfect volley with his left boot which went right to the top left corner to beat Roberto. 2-0.
Things were going pretty well for the visitors but at the 37', just a couple minutes after Pepe accidentally kicked Ramos in the chest, Carvajal left the game with what looked to be a hamstring injury. Álvaro Arbeloa took his place.
Córdoba didn't look as helpless as most expected in the first half. Lots of pressing and counters but they just couldn't finish their plays. Real Madrid had the lead and were clearly the better team, but they were stuck passing the ball from side to side, well contained by a defence led by Murillo.
Just eight minutes into the second half, Cristiano and Benzema combined again for another goal. This time, it was Cristiano with the assist: a brilliant back heel assist to leave Karim open in front of Roberto. The French striker didn't waste any time and quickly scored the 0-3.
That goal seemed to crush Granada's spirits. After Marcelo hit the crossbar with a long shot, Cristiano had yet another successful back heel pass outside the box but it went to Isco this time. Sadly, Alarcón's shot was deflected, but it looked as if Granada were finally overwhelmed by Los Blancos. Real Madrid's fourth goal looked imminent at this point.
Granada barely possessed the ball anymore and their pressing was gone, mostly thanks to an otherworldly Luka Modric, who absolutely dominated that midfield. Also, they started turning the ball over inside their own territory quite often, and since they were focused on attacking, there were lots of spaces for Real Madrid to attack on the counter. Still, Granada kept fighting and had a great chance inside Madrid's box at the 67th minute as Rochina came in with no one in front of him, but Ramos quickly recovered to block the shot.
Sami Khedira then replaced a terrific Modric with 15 minutes to go. Right after the substitution, Marcelo wasted a fantastic chance to score Real Madrid's fourth goal (and what would've been Benzema's third assist) as his shot from the left of the box went way above Roberto's goal.
Real Madrid still weren't done and James finally scored the fourth goal of the game after a brilliant play set up by the Colombian himself, Benzema, Arbeloa and Cristiano Ronaldo. Arbeloa's cross wasn't properly shot by Ronaldo, but before a Granada player could clear the ball, James pushed it in to make it 0-4 with three minutes left on the clock.
While Granada bravely competed during the first half, that quick goal in the second half killed their hopes. It also felt like Real Madrid didn't really try that hard, and it still resulted in a dominating 0-4 win. Not bad, but that's what you're going to get with a roster as deep as Real Madrid's. Isco and James have been ridiculous and Bale's return will only make things better for Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti.
Benzema keeps silencing his critics (if someone even dares to still criticise him) and today he just led Real Madrid to victory with an outstanding performance: two assists, a goal and he also set up Real's fourth goal. Also, great performance by Modric and James Rodríguez.
Next, it's Champions League time again as Real Madrid returns to the Bernabéu to face Liverpool next week.