Real Madrid 2 – 0 Granada (Casemiro, Benzema). Here is our quick reaction. They still follow: Player ratings, post-match podcasts, post-match quotes and a lot more analysis.
Real Madrid win their sixth straight game, continuing an impressive run in which they conceded just two goals in that part, and the defense as a whole began to approach the impenetrable level of the second half of last season, after a lockout.
Tonight, that defense was mostly maintained. But that is, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Granada had their chances, even after 30 seconds of play, but their chances came from Real Madrid inflicting pain on themselves. The divisions were a problem, and Raphael Varane in particular looked nervous (again) with the ball in his feet. Its distribution was weak under pressure, and its shaky addition can occur even when there is no pressure around it.
(Real Madrid’s biggest fights in slow-motion sequences came from boxing or marking on sets, where they allowed free bodies in the area.)
Granada is credited with inducing some of Real Madrid’s upheavals. Diego Martinez stuck Yan Eteki in front of his four-man line, giving his team numbers in defense to follow the runners down the middle without sacrificing the width of their team. They pressed well.
But Real Madrid, who got a good contribution in defense from everyone in the midfield (plus Carvajal and Mendy, who were stellar as always on defense), managed to find space behind Granada with quick switches and great vertical channel movement from Karim Benzema and Fede Valverdea. Toni Kroos almost always had a sales space at his disposal and outside it, as well as in front of him. Rodrygo, who had a rare cameo on his left, managed to create three chances with his cuts.
Unfortunately, Rodrygo also left the field with a right leg injury after an awkward landing and was stretched. Asensio was given a chance to change things around.
Asensio would turn the game around, not immediately, but in the end, in a dramatic way. In a wild sequence, he struck the tripod, encountering a cross with the back of his heel. The ball eventually fell on Asensio again after a deflected shot from Kroos ’shot, and he cut back to Fede Valverde in the penalty area, whose shot was defended. The ball fell on Benzema, who threw it over the crossbar from a solid angle.
Moments later, Asensio would find himself in the left half, receiving the ball from Ferland Mendy. Asensio bounces off the defender and throws in a cross for Casemiro, who towered over Vallejo:
Benzema was 2 – 0 late.
There are a lot of interesting wrinkles to break in this game, which we’ll do on tonight’s post-game podcast, which is live on Zoom with Euan McTear and me. The link is here.