Real Madrid will be happy to have begun the New Year in winning ways in La Liga. Securing an easy 3 points against Granada, Real Madrid are serious contenders for the La Liga Title. Additionally, with the win, Zidane’s men have equalled FC Barcelona’s Spanish Record of 39 games unbeaten in all competitions.
Madrid winning with five goals and conceding zero was not surprising at all considering it was Granada that the Whites were pitted against. If anything Real Madrid were expected to score more goals.
Los Blancos now look forward to facing Sevilla in back to back matches in the Copa del Rey and La Liga respectively.
First Eleven Ratings:
Navas - 7/10
His team made his job very simple in the first half and he almost had no saves to make. He still made himself useful by playing from the back and helping with build-up as the players executed a very ball oriented, pass heavy formula to control the game. Wasn't challenged very much in the second half either except for a good save towards the end of the match to get the clean sheet.
Navas - 7/10
The Costa Rican was not surprised with the lack of action on his end, thanks to Madrid’s relentless hunting of Granada. He produced some fine saves when called upon to ensure the team’s second consecutive clean sheet in the New Year. Keylor seems to have gained back the confidence that was lacking at the start of the season.
Marcelo - 7/10
Marcelo was active from the very beginning and continuously probed and tested the right hand side of the Granada defense with his dribbling and crossing. He did extremely well to create space for himself and played a fantastic cross for Ronaldo to finish in the 27th minute. That was standard for the left back for the rest of his time on the pitch although he became more conservative as the game wore on because Madrid simply looked to close the game. He also did well in the situations that called for his defensive intervention. Came off for Coentrao in the 68th minute.
Marcelo – 9/10
The creative Brazilian was as a nightmare for Granada, as he laid waste to their right side. He proved to be a constant threat and provided some accurate crosses and was on target himself. He provided a pinpoint cross to Ronaldo who scored Real’s third.
Varane - 8/10
Led from the back being essentially faultless in the opening 45 minutes as he and Nacho nullified any hints or suggestions of attacking play from Granada in the first half. He made excellent clearances and interceptions which was complemented with great passing. A more constrained second half for the 23 year old as Real dropped their tempo and intensity to see out the match but did push up when required to stop counter-attacks.
Raphael Varane – 7.5/10
In the absence of veterans Ramos and Pepe, it was Varane who ensured defensive stability. The young Frenchman has been enjoying his pairing with Nacho and this match was no different. Varane has been extraordinary this season and has proved that he is more than capable of filling Pepe’s big shoes.
Nacho - 8/10
Marshalled the defense with his French partner dealing effectively with any (relatively few in the opening half) attacks that reached our defensive third. His composure on the ball was great as evidenced by his confident and intelligent passing. Lost his man in the 42nd minute in a very dangerous position as he was free in the box but Carvajal fortunately deflected the cross from the Granada player attacking our right wing and the ball went straight to Navas. Nacho did equally well in the second half and made a particularly important challenge when a Granada player was on a breakaway and Nacho faced a possible 2 on 1.
Nacho Fernandez – 7.5/10
Real Madrid are fortunate to have a reserve CB in Nacho who gets the job done whenever called upon. Continuing his good run from the game against Sevilla, Nacho dominated the occasional Granada attack and at times enjoyed a stroll forward.
Carvajal - 7/10
Stretched the Granada defense with great wide play in the first half creating passing lanes for Varane, Modric, Ronaldo and others. His crossing was a touch below his usual standard but very good still. He did well to handle lessened defensive responsibilities as Real Madrid stifled Granada from the first minute. His recovery to get a foot to the attacker’s cross from the wing in the 42nd minute was a critical potentially goal denying play. Made more excellent game opening runs for the earlier part of the second half but again his crossing left a little to be desired. Decreased his offensive forays for the latter part of the half.
Dani Carvajal – 7.5/10
He performed his defensive and offensive duties well, as he was able to shut down threats on his side and looked dangerous going forward. He also delivered some good crosses as he usually does. Personally, I feel that his crossing ability is quite underrated.
Kroos - 7/10
Helped define the nature of Real Madrid's dominance with superb distribution and interplay. Perfectly in sync with Modric and Casemiro - the trio were the fulcrum of everything good about the performance linking defense to offense and selectively choosing when to steady play and when to advance or progress towards goal. His work-rate was great as he hassled everybody in a black shirt whenever they had the ball. Came off for James at half time.
Kroos – 7.5/10
Kroos did not have his best game. Unlike Modric, he could not get himself involved as much as he would have liked. Nevertheless, he was still solid in possession. He was rightfully substituted considering he has seen yellow four times this season and Madrid need the visionary German when they play away to Sevilla.
Casemiro - 9/10
Great in the first half and showed amazing awareness to step up to the ball and play a one-time pass to Benzema that resulted in the Frenchman's assist to Isco for the match's first goal. He was a defensive force throughout as he (along with an impressive team shape) closed down aggressively reducing the size of the pitch and space availability extensively to the point that Granada could not form coherent strings of passing plays or offensive moves. In addition, his passing was good despite a few mishits. Almost (if even possible) stepped up his defensive game in the second half and commemorated his wonderful performance with a goal in the 58th minute after he did well to anticipate the trajectory of James' cross to score. Maintained his intensity even as the team went into a more relaxed mode to finish the game.
Casemiro – 8/10
Hot-headed Case seems like he had found his feet after enduring a long layoff from injury. His impressive work-rate allowed him to snatch the ball away from Granada multiple times. He also scored a superb goal to add to his performance. On the negative side, he got himself unnecessary booked against an already dead Granada.
Modric - 8/10
Controlled the middle of the park from the get-go along with Kroos and helped assert Madrid's control through possession and positional superiority. Made a few aggressive offensive passes that were intercepted but his searching eye ultimately led to a great shot from outside the box in the 20th minute that Benzema scored off the rebound. Modric continued to coordinate tempo while ensuring possession did not become sterile. He smartly latched onto a stray pass from the Granada defense and got to the byline to play a great ball for Isco to finish to make it 4-0. This game was one of the better illustrations of Modric's offensive strength and how he can help with penetrating defenses. A good example was his lovely give and go with Benzema at the end of the first half that led to a miscued shot from a good position in the box. Took full charge of the second half as Kroos went off and displayed his ability to dictate play and be the conductor.
Luka Modric – 9.5/10
Modric was godly as usual. He dictated the play with his technically gifted abilities, was rock solid in defense, and dazzled on offense. He brilliantly picked up Isco with a pinpoint cross for the the Spaniard’s second goal and was unlucky not to have scored for the second time this week.
Isco - 9/10
Started the game very well moving between the centre of the pitch and wings as needed. His efforts were rewarded as he scored from a Benzema assist in the 12th minute after helping win the ball back. He did not stop there and continued to torment the Granada defense by strategically floating laterally and vertically between the advanced and central zones making smart passes and retaining possession. Made an excellent run in the 31st minute at the far post to finish a great Modric pass across the face of the goal. Replaced by Asensio at the 50th minute.
Isco – 9.5/10
Real Madrid need to get Isco to sign an extension ASAP. Isco discoed throughout the match, starting by making a great tackle and having the loose ball provided back to him by Karim Benzema to score Real’s opener in the 11th minute. Isco scored his brace when he was found by Modric to score Real’s fourth. However, he was rudely denied a hat-trick by Ochoa.
Ronaldo - 7/10
As with Benzema, he did not have many touches but supported team structure and play effectively positionally and with his passing. He decisively headed into goal from inside the box after a sumptuous cross from Marcelo. Pressed the defense really well along with Benzema to force a dispossession that led to the Isco goal. He became the primary offensive weapon in the second half as he drove at the Granada defense again and again. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get a second goal despite getting in good positions and taking good shots. He could've done better with some of the opportunities (i.e. more incisive passing and focused shooting).
Ronaldo – 7.5/10
4 Time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo will be happy with the 3 points but disappointed with himself for not finding the back of the net more than once. Despite what he make think of his own performance, his finish for his goal was commendable, as he effortlessly guided Marcelo’s beautiful delivery with his head to the back of the net for Madrid’s third. What will rake Cristiano is that he should have scored from James’ free kick and from the handful opportunities he had.
Benzema - 7/10
Provided an assist to Isco for the first goal and was efficient with his touches through his movement and decision making. He was in the right place (if marginally offside) to put the ball in the back of the net after Modric's shot was blocked by the Granada keeper. His imprint on the game grew as he found his teammates in great positions such as key passes to Isco, Carvajal, and Modric in the first half. Facilitated further in the second half and could've scored at least another goal if he was more assertive or received better service.
Karim Benzema – 8.5/10
Karim did well to quickly disperse the ball back to Isco for the first goal of the match and win the race to Modric’s deflected shot to score Madrid’s second of the game. He also did well in linking up play to further strangle Granada’s defense.
James - 6/10
Did not take long to make an impact as he registered an assist from an exquisite cross from a freekick a mere 13 minutes after coming on. The ball to the back post was met by Casemiro who guided it into the net. Came close with another freekick shortly after.
James – 8.5/10
The Colombian shone again for the second time in a week. He looked dangerous in attack and found Ronaldo brilliantly with his free kick and almost scored a goal himself. His crowing moment was an exquisite cross to Casemiro for Madrid’s fifth goal on the night. He was also notably involved in the team’s movements and worked hard throughout the match. James looked good this week and he will flourish, irrespective of where he plays next season.
Asensio - 6/10
Won the freekick that led to the fifth goal by showing great shielding of the ball and using his body well.
Asensio – 6.5/10
By the time Asensio came in, Granada were already in the grave and Real Madrid’s intensity had dropped. Interestingly, the same happened in the Copa match against Sevilla when Isco came in and the match was already decided and Madrid had dropped Zidane’s favourite adjective, i.e ‘intensity’ from their play. As a result, Asensio did not have a lot to work with.
Coentrao - 6/10
Good showing by Coentrao who returns to the pitch for the first time since November.
Coentrao – 6.5/10
Coentrao obviously lacked Marcelo’s offensive prowess, but the Portuguese fullback did not give away a penalty this time nor did he get injured. His inclusion meant Marcelo could be rested for a tougher fixture in the form of Sevilla. Coentrao could prove to be useful throughout the season as a rotational option that can provide Marcelo with key periods of rest.
Man of the Match
C-Trick - Casemiro
The very best of the Brazilian as he showed how much he brings to the table. Isco would've been in contention was he not subbed out so early.
Naguib - Isco