Real Madrid fights off a second-half onslaught to win at Granda.
July 15, 2020.
Real Madrid had to fight off a second-half onslaught from Granada to win their ninth consecutive match.
Starting XI: Thibaut Courtois, Dani Carvajal, Rapahel Varane, Sergio Ramos (C), Ferland Mendy, Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Fede Valverde, Isco, and Karim Benzema.
Real Madrid traveled to Granada in search of their ninth consecutive win since the return from the pandemic break. Zinedine Zidane rolled out his five-man midfield, a switch away from the 4-3-3 formation he had been using in the past few matches. The change in the formation meant that Marco Asensio and Rodrygo were replaced by Isco and Fede Valverde in the starting lineup. Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal were also started after serving a suspension against Deportivo Alaves.
Zidane sent his team out in 4-5-1 formation to control the game as much as possible, and that is how Los Blancos started. The Merengues maintained possession of the ball and passed the ball around sharply. It did not take them long to create their first chance of the game. Casemiro made a driving run down the middle before passing the ball to Mendy. The former Lyon man dribbled past his marker, and Isco's run off the ball gave him some much-needed space. Mendy takes a shot from a tightest of angles and smashes a rocket into the top of the net, giving the Royal Whites the lead. The ball went past the goalkeeper in a flash, and there was nothing he could do about it.
Real Madrid gets the second goal in the 16th minute when Modric feeds Benzema after a lovely backheel from Isco. The French forward cuts to the right and puts the ball into the far netting for his nineteenth goal fo the season.
Los Blancos continued to move and spread the ball with quality. "They kept the ball and passed it around 51 times between the 20th and 23rd without the Nazaries getting a touch. The Merengues streak only ended with a Granada foul." Zidane's men were playing football at it's best.
Domingos Duarte leaps and manages to direct a magnificent header towards goal. Thibaut Courtois gets down well and makes a diving save to deny Granada a goal.
On the other end, an elegant sequence of football leads to Modric finding Benzema in some space inside the box. The Real Madrid No.9 turns around and shoots at goal from a tight angle. Silva makes a great save to deny the Frenchman this time.
Right before the half, Isco strikes a volley from 20 yards out, but the ball if blocked out for a corner.
Halftime score (Granada 0 - 2 Real Madrid)
Things took a turn in the second 45. Real Madrid let their guard down and looked complacent with the two-goal lead.
Granada, on the other hand, came out with intensity and purpose. It did not take long for Nazaries to force a mistake from Casemiro. The Brazillian midfielder got dispossessed in the midfield and Granada's Yangel Herrera plays a perfect pass to Darwin Machis. The Nazaries forward puts the ball into the back of the net through Courtois's legs to pull a goal back.
On the other end, Isco takes a turn at the edge of the box and shoots at goal, but the effort went straight to Silva.
Granada was piling up the pressure and stretching the game. Zidane decided to take Isco and Valverde off and replaced them with Asensio and Rodrygo to add some width.
Raphael Varane's makes an excellent interception to prevent Machis from going one on one versus Courtois.
Granada continued to press forward and had created a couple of dangerous attacking plays. First, Antonin Puertas stikes a fantastic side volley, forcing Courtois to make a diving save. Seconds later, Azeez finds himself open in front of the goal at the edge of the six-yard box. He shoots at goal, but Ramos makes a phenomenal clearance off the goal-line to keep Real Madrid's lead.
Los Blancos held on to win the match 1-2 at the final whistle.
Final Score (Granada 1-2 Real Madrid)
Real Madrid played a fantastic first-half. They looked sharp on the ball, played some exciting fluid football, and dominated the proceedings. Modric, Kroos, and Isco all looked class in the middle of the park.
The second-half was a different story. Granada stepped up their intensity while Los Blancos got complacent. Isco looked exhausted and Valverde's involvement decreased as the Nazaries played more direct bypassing the midfield often. The Merengues found it difficult to deal with multiple long balls into the box. However, Zidane's men fought hard and defended brilliantly to hold on to the win.
Real Madrid needs one win from two games to clinch their 34th league title.
Three Stars of the Match
Ferland Mendy: Mendy continues to be a stalwart in defense and is growing as an attacking threat. His brilliant run and a rocket of 'golazo' gave Real Madrid an early lead.
Karim Benzema: Benzema continued his good form and played a vital role in Los Blancos's attack. He scored the winner in a fine style as well.
Luka Modric: He keeps turning back time as the 34-year-old was the best midfielder for Real Madrid against Granada. He had a total of 61 touches and each one of them oozed elegance. He also got himself an assist on Benzema's goal.