It’s now six wins in a row for Real Madrid, after goals from Casemiro and Karim Benzema saw Los Blancos overcome Granada 2-0. This game actually produced a lot of talking points and they’re discussed below, while this match also answered some questions too.
1. Would Zidane’s Granada prediction be right?
Speaking before the match, Zinedine Zidane spoke about how Real Madrid often struggle against deep-lying teams. Yet he insisted that he didn’t think Granada would be one of those teams. “I don’t think Granada will defend very deep tomorrow as this is a team that also knows how to play football and attack,” he said. And, he was proven right. Granada were ambitious in this game, pressing Real Madrid high early on and creating some good early opportunities. Sure, they got back quickly and in numbers when they had to, but this was not a park-the-bus type of performance from Granada. Credit, though, to Los Blancos for finding a way through.
2. Would we get to see Hazard or Ødegaard?
Eden Hazard and Martin Ødegaard were both in the squad for this one after their recent injuries. But, neither player was given a single minute. It seems that the reason is they’re still not 100 percent and that Zidane didn’t want to risk them, especially with a seven-day break coming up now where they can further recover full fitness. Zidane even explained in his post-match press conference that he didn’t think this was the right game for easing Hazard back in, suggesting he would have introduced the Belgian had Real Madrid held a more comfortable lead in the second half. After the Christmas break, the Belgian and the Norwegian will surely return then.
3. Would Benzema keep up his great Granada record?
Karim Benzema loves playing Granada. Coming into this fixture, he’d scored 12 goals against them in 14 matches, meaning that they’re the second team he has the most goals against. Only against Athletic Club (13 goals in 22 matches) did he have more. Now, he also has 13 against Granada. The French striker scored a late effort from outside the box to seal the deal, something that has actually happened often this season. That was the seventh time Real Madrid have scored in the 90th minute or later. Only once (Casemiro’s equaliser vs Borussia Mönchengladbach) did it change the result, while the other six were to extend a win. On four of these six occasions, it was Benzema getting to goal to wrap up a win and he did so again here to mean he now has even more goals vs Granada than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
1. How serious is Rodrygo’s injury?
That Rodrygo injury did not look good. The fact he immediately went down clutching his hamstring was already a bad sign. Then, the fact he even had to be stretchered off was an even worse sign. A typical hamstring injury usually means an absence of about two to three weeks, but this might not be a typical hamstring injury and that could mean a much much lengthier absence. Let’s hope it’s not as serious as it looked.
2. Can Asensio turn his flashes of brilliance into full performances?
Marco Asensio came on for Rodrygo and was very good. There were 100 particularly good seconds where he hit the post with an attempt that could have been the goal of the season, set up Fede Valverde for a shot and then assisted Casemiro. All between 54:40 and 56:20 on the clock. He has had flashes of brilliance since returning from his serious knee injury. His very first touch after coming back was that goal vs Valencia, of course. But, can he turn these little moments into something consistent across 90 minutes? Nobody is asking him to create a chance every 10 minutes, but he need to consistently provide danger like Vinícius does, convert the number of chances that Rodrygo does of cover the amount of kilometres that Lucas Vázquez does in order to get a full 90 minutes – or even close to it. Perhaps during this Rodrygo injury, there will be more opportunities for Asensio.
3. Will the week off halt the good momentum?
Real Madrid are on fire right now, with six victories in a row. It’s starting to feel like the post-lockdown Real Madrid when they just won and won and won. So, maybe this week-long Christmas break could come at the wrong time. Maybe Real Madrid would rather have another game on Saturday or Sunday. But, their next fixture will be next Wednesday. Fortunately, it’s against an Elche team in freefall, so it should provide an opportunity to ease back into things and to keep up their good form.