Real Madrid 1-0 Granada (Asensio). Here is the immediate reaction to the win. Coming up: press conferences, player ratings and the post game ManagingMadrid podcast.
The striker-less saga continued, as Luka Jović was once again overlooked in favour of a midfielder taking the role. This time it was Isco who would start up-front in place of Karim Benzema and Mariano Díaz who were both out injured. Castilla joint top goal scorer Juanmi Latasa was called up for the first time to give the limited position slightly more depth on the bench. He’d be sitting alongside Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard who were not able to get in on the action despite the absence of Vinícius Júnior thanks to suspension. Marcelo captained the team for this one.
The first half was one of the most mundane I have seen in recent times, with a severe lack of intensity leading to little in the way of chance creation. Madrid came closest through Toni Kroos shooting over, Rodrygo Goes shooting wide - and Dani Carvajal almost forcing an own goal, if not for the crossbar. The Kroos pass to find Dani was the best moment of the entire half. Madrid dominated the ball as expected, but looked lethargic in the final third. Granada created a couple of chances themselves, but Thibaut Courtois found them relatively straightforward to deal with. Isco proved that he can still be of use, but was effectively playing his usual deeper role rather than towing the line up top. Madrid would have to find a goal scoring touch from somewhere if they wanted to walk away with the points here.
Wild how much the normal left-sided dominance shifts with Benzema out of the team. Isco has naturally drifted to the right. Rodrygo and Marcelo haven’t had that presence in the left half-space to link with. Wonder how long Ancelotti keeps rolling with these forwards in 2nd half.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) February 6, 2022
Fede Valverde was brought on at half time, and almost had a quick impact as he was sent clean through by Marco Asensio. Or so we all thought, as the referee pulled play back after the defender Fede beat for pace went down and managed to win a free-kick. The play dried up once more, so Luka Jović and Eden Hazard were then brought on to give the game something fresh. Despite little actually changing in the way of offensive runs and options, Madrid did manage to take the lead after Marco Asensio picked the ball up outside of the box and smashed it home from distance in typical fashion. It looked like the home side were given a penalty after Hazard dropped down inside the area, but the referee judged the foul to have taken place outside of the box and the resulting free-kick was spurned. Asensio should have had a double but couldn’t find anything but the keeper from close range. The game produced little more, but Madrid had done enough to squeeze out the 1-0 win. Will you remember this game tomorrow?