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Three answers and three questions from Real Madrid’s victory over Granada

Los Blancos got the job done at the Bernabéu

Real Madrid CF v Granada CF - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid secured a 2-0 victory over Granada at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Saturday evening, adding to a run of 15 consecutive wins against the Andalusian side. Brahim Díaz gave the team the lead as they struggled to break down Granada’s deep defensive unit, with Rodrygo Goes adding a second after the break to double the team’s advantage.

Three answers

1. Can Rodrygo keep scoring?

Six goals and four assists in his last four games meant that Rodrygo Goes came into this tie on fire, and he kept that run going by netting a seventh goal in five games early in the second half. This one showed the kind of cutting edge confidence that allowed him to bury at the far post as he reacted fastest as André Ferreira palmed away Jude Bellingham’s shot. It was worth 0.2 xG on the expected goals scale and he made it look easy. There’s nothing that can stop the Brazilian at the moment and he’s carrying the team at the moment with his goals.

2. Who would Carlo Ancelotti start in goal?

A lot of the build up to this game was centered around who would start between the sticks for the home team, following Carlo Ancelotti’s claim last week that Kepa would be selected ahead of Andriy Lunin provided he was fit. Fortunately for the Italian, he was able to postpone a selection headache as the Chelsea loanee was not fully fit and had to settle for a place on the bench while the Ukrainian continued in goal. It was Lunin’s fifth consecutive start since the Basque goalkeeper was injured, and his third clean sheet after shut-outs against Cádiz and Braga. With Kepa expected back for the game against Real Betis, Ancelotti will still have a decision to make, but it has at least been pushed back to next weekend.

3. How would Granada react with a new manager bounce?

Alexander Medina replaced Paco López this week and made his coaching debut in Europe at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. It was somewhat of a free pass for the Uruguayan with expectations at rock bottom for his first game in charge. “It’s difficult, but we have to be convinced and give our all,” he said pre-match. The Granada team looked more defensively resolute than they have in recent weeks, even without Real Madrid loanee Jesús Vallejo, but eventually the Real Madrid attack was just too much for them to handle. Medina may be encouraged by some aspects of their play, but it wasn’t enough to concern any Madridistas.

Three questions

1. What’s wrong with Joselu?

Since early October, Joselu had only recorded one goal from 2.44 xG and he even held up his hands in apology as he celebrated that strike deep in injury time against Napoli in midweek. Against Granada, Ancelotti gave him his second consecutive start in LALIGA in a clear show of faith. He didn’t quite respond. He had fewer touches than other outfield player to start the game, with only one in the first 20 minutes and only another three by half time. He recorded only one shot, which was blocked outside the box, and generally looked disconnected from play. In truth, Joselu is neither as good as his goals first suggested nor as bad as his recent form makes him look, but Real Madrid will be hoping to get him back to a more consistent standard soon.

2. What went wrong early on in this game?

Real Madrid didn’t have a shot until Brahim gave them the lead on 26 minutes, and they wouldn’t record another one on target until Jude Bellingham’s shot was saved for Rodrygo to react and make it two on 57 minutes. While Granada looked solid, this was more a matter of Real Madrid not quite being on the ball, especially in the early stages. There was a lack of fluidity in the team’s play and several key players looked to be a little tired, particularly coming up against a low block which was ready to make Real Madrid work hard to try and find space. With the schedule testing math players to the limit, this week-long break can’t come at a better time.

3. When will Antonio Rüdiger be rested?

This was Antonio Rüdiger’s 17th start from 19 games for Real Madrid this season. Since he came on to replace Éder Militão against Athletic Club in the first game of the season, his only absence to date has been the win over Valencia for which he was suspended. On top of that, he has played every minute in six friendlies for the German national team. It’s true that Carlo Ancelotti is not blessed with great strength in depth in defence and Rüdiger is also yet to miss a game for Real Madrid since he joined the club, but even so, at 30 years of age and with his physical style the risk of injury is only increasing. It might have seemed that this, a home game against a struggling team, was the ideal time to give him a break, but he was selected to play the full 90 minutes.

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