Against Granada, Real Madrid won by 1-0. So the scoreline alone shows that the attack force Real Madrid put out against Granada was not perfect. It was a frustrating day to say the least.
If It wasn’t for an amazing Isco left foot cross and Benzema’s header from that cross, Real Madrid’s La Liga season would have been in tatters.
Currently Real Madrid sit behind Barcelona by 2 points. Barcelona won their game 4-1 and as usual, Messi missed a penalty. He scored one too to make it two goals for him for the night.
Real Madrid played a good passing game against Granada but just wasn’t able to get an end product for their hard work building up to the goal.
Injury to Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez meant that Benitez went with the trio of Lucas Vasquez, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo at the front.
It was surprising to see Lucas Vasquez getting a call to the starting eleven ahead of Jesse and Cheryshev, both of whom I thought deserved the place more.
Vasquez is just twenty four and has worked extremely hard to rejuvenate his career at Real Madrid. Against, Granada he was full of running in the midfield and showed great ball control when he ran with the ball. His ability to go past players is exceptional for a player who hasn’t had many starts in top flight Spanish football.
With that said, I don’t know what is it with strikers (or even attacking players in general) these days but their finishing isn’t very accurate at all. Vasquez, not bucking the trend did miss a chance one on one with the keeper. It was a tight angle so we’ll just let this one pass.
Despite his stature in the team, Lucas looked very much involved in all the attacking moves.
He was proactive throughout the game as he did not wait for someone to pass him the ball but instead made unselfish runs to warrant a ball from his teammates.
Lucas is an attacker who can defend really well for his position. Against Granada he constantly ran back to support the defense and the midfield. On the wings, he close down Granada defenders really well and look full of determination throughout the 90 minutes.
His dribbling skills especially in one vs one situation is very neat. Against Granada he tried to go past players whenever he could but Granada players were like human roadblocks. Even on a rare occasion, when Vasquez went past them, they fouled him immediately.
To be fair to him, it was nothing less than a miracle that he got so many opportunities on the pitch to get involved in play. Playing with Ronaldo and Benzema almost ensures that if you’re an upcoming player at Real Madrid, you would get dried up on the field because of lack of participation on the pitch.
Overall, Vasquez gave a good account of himself against Granada.
Real Madrid, this season, played only one game without Benzema and drew it 0-0. It was the only game Real Madrid played this season in which Benitez’s side did not score.
Something tells me Benzema is the key in this Real Madrid side which opens up opportunities for everyone else to join the attack and score goals.
But even Benzema wasn’t at his best tonight. He missed a pretty easy opportunity in the first half on a fast rebound from a low swerving Ronaldo shot. It was basically an open goal for Benzema but may be the ball was spinning to much and he sort of flashed at it to miss a golden chance.
Benzema was again put through on goal by a peach of a through ball by Modric, but he couldn’t score as he tried something cheeky with his left foot instead of just banging it into the goal.
But that is the thing with Benzema, even when he isn’t scoring goals, his contribution otherwise in invaluable for Real Madrid.
He played a very intelligent ball to Isco in space inside the penalty area which Isco blasted wide. Benzema delivered when the roles reversed and Benzema headed down into the goal from a great left footed cross put in by Isco from just inside the field of play .
That was about the last piece of activity Benzema was involved in against Granada as he was subbed in the 76th minute for Cheryshev.
Now Cheryshev is a player who has great speed and strength. He was consistently said in his interviews that he isn’t afraid of competing with Ronaldo for first team place. It’s refreshing to see someone who sees something impossible as possible but whatever.
Against Granada, his runs from the midfield into the attacking third were very forceful. His selfless runs into open space were also very practical in the attacking half of the pitch.
Undoubtedly, with 24 minutes on the pitch one cannot be expected to make a big impact and Cheryshev wasn’t able to either, though he tried hard.
Alex Ferguson once said that there hasn’t been a player in the past 20 years who takes so many shots on goal in a single match, who is so involved in every single match as Ronaldo is on the pitch week in, week out.
Against Granada he lived up to that billing as he could have scored another hat trick with the amount of chances he had.
Early on in the first half, Ronaldo went past one player easily before being brought down by the second defender near Granada’s penalty area.
And that is one of the biggest problems with Ronaldo. He is always surrounded by several players, so even when he gets past one or two, he eventually gets fouled by a back up third defender. In other words, he is marked very well in every game.
He did miss a quick finish from a Modric pass early in the game but that was not even the beginning of the amount of chances he would have later on in the game.
His free kick in the first half had a lot of venom and bounced right in front of the keeper who put it into the path of Vasquez to put it into the back of the net, which he couldn’t do.
Ronaldo’s free kicks are unique in the sense, that he always tests the keeper with different heights on his shots. He tests them downstairs as well as upstairs, so it is always hard for the keeper to know what exactly to expect from a Ronaldo shot.
Against, Granada Ronaldo also showed his selfless side of football. He pulled back the ball for Benzema inside the penalty area from a break but Benzema had overrun Ronaldo’s ball.
Normally both are very much in sync but against Granada Ronaldo and Benzema did not look like they were on the same page.
Ronaldo, frustrated, did make a bad pass which gave away possession of the ball to Granada but made up for it by laying the ball into the path of a incoming Modric (who had put Ronaldo through on goal from a nice through ball at the start of the move) who eventually hit the goalkeeper instead of ,back of the net.
Ronaldo also his the post from a vicious curring cross from Isco from the wings but it was judged offside in anycase. Even though it was an offside post, it showed that Ronaldo’s darting runs are uncontainable when he is on song.
Versus Granada, Ronaldo demonstrated that is the master of one touch goals (Inzaghi like). He gets into good positions before anyone else because is more agile and athletic than almost any defender in the world.
It is just amazing that his energy levels never drop till the end of the game which gives him an added advantage when others are fatigued.
In the second half Ronaldo looked very annoyed with himself when his right foot shot was easily picked up by the goalkeeper because it didn’t have any sting on it.
He took another shot which flew way over the goal. And that’s the special thing about Ronaldo, he doesn’t give up.
Ronaldo was at it again when he headed the ball really hard towards the goal. Sadly, it was straight to the keeper.
Granada were finding it extremely hard to keep Ronaldo out of the game even though Ronaldo wasn’t making them pay for their mistakes. Ronaldo took another left foot shot which rattled the goalkeeper and brought out a big save from him in the second half.
The injury to Ramos meant that Real Madrid’s aerial ability was severely blunted as Ronaldo missed another header opportunity from a corner.
Modric’s wonder through ball again put Ronaldo in a scoring position from a tight angle but he missed again when he could have just squared the ball to a teammate in space.
A few minutes later, a foul on Isco granted another opportunity for Ronaldo to get on the scoresheet. His free kick, though, was poor as it hit the bottom of the wall.
Ronaldo’s scoring rate from free kicks has seen an huge fall from his last days at Manchester United.
Discontented with his performance, Ronaldo decided to go down when tried to get to a through ball as he was pushed from behind in the penalty area. The referee judged the collision nothing but an unfortunate dive from Ronaldo.
That must have demoralized Ronaldo as in the dying minutes of the game he had a good opportunity, from a break, to dribble past two defenders and take a shot at the goal from a favorable angle.
But Ronaldo looked very hesitant and instead chose to pass the ball on the wings to wind down the clock rather than attack Granada.
That was his and Real Madrid last action of the game as the referee blew his whistle for the last time.
Real madrid attacked well but couldn’t finish several standard chances. Granada didn’t come to Bernabeu to get punished.
They passed the ball well and stuck to their gameplan.
Isaac had a great chance to score from an Al-Arabi pass but he couldn’t.
Granada was unable to punish Real Madrid for their mistakes. Same was the case with Real Madrid who couldn’t convert many easier chances on the other end of the pitch.
Granada played with a compact defense line and with good confidence which made them very stubborn. Real Madrid tried hard to break them down but did not succeed except for the Benzema headed goal.
In the second half, when Granada showed signs of tiredness, Real Madrid started to tear them up with some good passing. The back four of Real Madrid, especially, kept the ball really well which allowed the attacking players to make runs into open spaces.
All in all, it was a game where Real Madrid could have scored 4 or even 5 goals but managed only 1. Granada should be given credit for hanging in there for the duration of the game and thus, not allowing for another Real Madrid rout.