Fresh from destroying bitter rivals/neighbours Atletico Madrid 3-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final, Zinedine Zidane and his men had to travel to Granada for their La Liga clash against Granada CF.
While Real Madrid seem to be in a good position to win their first league title in half a decade, before tonight’s match they had four finals in the league to take care of. The four finals were in the form of games against Granada, Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Malaga. Now that Granada has been taken care of, Los Vikingos need to ensure that the other three finals follow suit.
Coach Zidane made eight changes from the game against Atletico Madrid, retaining only Ramos, Casemiro and Nacho.
Los Blancos now look forward to facing Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League Semi-Final and Sevilla FC in La Liga.
Francisco "Kiko" Casilla Cortés – 7.00
Kiko Casilla was selected to start, as Keylor Navas was rested by the Mister for the upcoming fixtures against Atletico Madrid and Sevilla. Casilla will have a good night’s sleep as he managed to have a clean-sheet — not that Granada was a threat at any moment in the game. Zidane’s second-choice goalkeeper did not have a lot to do, as the entire game was dominated by Los Merengues.
Danilo Luiz da Silva – 8.00
Danilo was excellent tonight. While the Brazilian is nowhere close to emulating Dani Carvajal’s contributions, he laid waste to the left hand side of Granada from the first minute. He did well in defense. Danillo proved to be a menace for Granada — going forward and and not allowing us to miss Dani Carvajal at all.
José Ignacio Fernández Iglesias – 7.00
‘Mr. Dependable’ Nacho stepped in for Varane as he has been doing for most of the season. Nacho looked sharp and was relaxed sitting alongside Sergio Ramos as Madrid’s juggernaut of a midfield did a splendid job. Nacho had a fine game, while nothing outside of the ordinary.
Sergio Ramos García – 7.00
Sergio Ramos had a decent game. He did fine in protecting Real Madrid from the little threats Granada seemed to have managed. Ramos was offensively very involved as well. He did give away the ball and was also caught out of position at one point, but Granada being Granada could not make anything out of those little mishaps.
Fabio ‘Fabulous’ Coentrao – 9.00
Fabio Coentrao was given a rare start by Zidane as Marcelo was rightfully rested by the Mister. Tonight the Portuguese fullback was everywhere. He played his role to perfection. Coentrao was also responsible for Real Madrid’s second goal when he delivered a sublime ball from the left wing for an unmarked James to head it in the back of the net. Coentrao paid Zidane’s faith in gold with his performance tonight.
James David Rodríguez Rubio – 9.50
James Rodriguez might have lost his starting spot a long time ago, but the Colombian never fails to impress whenever provided with an opportunity. Tonight was no different; James scored two goals in the first ten minutes. The Colombian was also thoroughly involved in attack from start to finish as he tried setting up his teammates for more goals until the very end of the match.
Carlos Henrique José Francisco Venâncio Casimiro – 7.00
Casemiro did well tonight. The hot-headed Brazilian seemed calm and did not go looking for trouble as he usually does. He was gifted a wonderful opportunity to score in an open net, only for his shot to somehow go over the bar.
Mateo Kovačić – 7.00
Kovacic was not alone this time around. The Croatian had Casemiro with him to anchor the midfield. Kovacic did well in carrying the ball forward as he usually does. He also provided a beautiful ball to Lucas Vazquez, creating a wonderful opportunity for the Spaniard to score, only for Casemiro to find the loose ball and make a mess of it.
Marco Asensio Willemsen – 7.00
Wonder-boy Asensio got the call to start as Madrid’s midfield heavyweights Luka Modric and Tony Kroos were provided with some rest before the crucial semi-final game against Atletico Madrid. The young Spaniard contributed well in dominating Granada from the get-go. Given that it was Granada that they were facing, maybe Asensio was expected to do something extra special, other than that the youngster did a fine job.
Álvaro Borja Morata Martín - 9.50
Alvaro Morata is a hungry man. He is always hungry for goals, as was the case tonight. As always, he did a great job in getting involved in Madrid’s attacking play. He scored the third and the fourth goal for Real Madrid. Both his goals were jaw-droppingly good and, well, a gif speaks a thousand words.
Lucas Vázquez Iglesias – 8.50
Lucas Vazquez has been doing a brilliant job in the right wing replacing the ill-fated Gareth Bale on numerous occasions. Tonight, Lucas made his intentions clear as he conquered the right wing from the first minute of the game. Lucas’ involvement was key in the creation of the first goal. The ever-so-reliable Spaniard was heavily involved in the Madrid attack and was unlucky to not have scored a goal himself.
Karim Mostafa Benzema – 6.50
Someone explain why Benzema and Morata are both on the field when Real Madrid are playing Granada, leading 4-0 no less.— Naguib Anam (@NaguibAnam) May 6, 2017
The Frenchman’s inclusion was a surprise to most as it was clear that Karim belonged in the ‘A’ team from coach Zidane’s point of view. He came in for Asensio. It is possible, that the coach wanted Karim to relocate his scoring boots. The French forward made some good runs and participated in the attack in his short time taking good advantage of the demoralized and tired legs of the Granada players. Big Benz also outmuscled the Granada defense at times. Alas, the goal did not come. Nevertheless, a fine showing by the under-fire Benzema.
Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez – 6.50
imagine being down 4 goals, ur getting relegated, and then isco comes on to face you.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) May 6, 2017
Isco replaced Casemiro in the 69th minute. Isco did well in contributing to Madrid’s continual attack. He tried to set up his teammates several times in the short duration of his presence and even cheekily won the ball from Granada at one point.
Mariano Díaz Mejía - 6.50
Mariano replaced Lucas Vazquez as Zidane’s final change of the night. In his only 13 minutes of play, he did well moving forward and even provided Benzema with a beautiful ball only for the Frenchman to put it wide by a few yards.
Man of the Match
Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez
This was a difficult decision. Both Morata and James were superb, making a strong case for both to win the ‘Man of the Match’. Therefore, the ‘Men’ of the match are awarded to both Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez.
Zinedine Zidane - 10.00
I wonder if Zidane has tried his hand in Casinos across Las Vegas. If not, he should definitely give it a try as his gamble as always paid off even tonight. While it is well known that Granada are 19th in the table and are already relegated, but Zidane still gambled by going into this match without his most prolific goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo; midfield giants Luka Modric, Toni Kroos; difference-maker Marcelo and first choice shot-stopper, Keylor Navas.
The Mister has managed to exploit (in a good way) each of his squad members’ talents for favourable results in this season’s campaign, even including Fabio Coentrao. The inclusion of the Portuguese allowed Marcelo to rest, who has been playing endlessly.
Zidane got what he came for and those are the three huge points, thereby keeping the pressure on our arch-rivals Football Club Barcelona.