There will have been kids in the Bernabéu on Saturday tasting their first Real Madrid game. The fixture invited a family day out, at the tail end of the Christmas holidays, on a sun-drenched early afternoon. They will remember it always as a happy occasion. Cristiano Ronaldo displayed his four Ballons d’Or, Marcelo celebrated his 10 years at the club with a vibrant performance, Zinedine Zidane chalked up his 39th consecutive game without defeat, equalling the record set by Luis Enrique… Madrid scored five, all of them easy on the eye and Casemiro found the net for the first time this season, leaving only Fabio Coentrao of Real’s outfield squad yet to score. Everything went Madrid’s way, including the match officials. Karim Benzema’s offside goal was given, while in Seville they are still fuming from the decision that went against them.
Only Cristiano looked a little frustrated. It was his day of celebration and he did not stand out. He only scored one of the five and looked impatient throughout. He was playing in a different area of the pitch, he was involved less than usual and it will take him some time to adjust. More than ever, if that is possible, he will be judged this season in goals. Meanwhile, Madrid shone, with a more collaborative style and less reliant than before on the BBC, from which Gareth Bale is absent. The home side were more of a unit, pressured more and opened the scoring after robbing the ball from the visitors as they tried to play out of defence. Madrid are more of a side now than at any point in the last few years. And they are less and less reliant on Cristiano.
It is also true that Granada did not provide much in the way of opposition. A side full of transitory players, without the guidance of former president Quique Pina, who was important to the club, looked like what they are: a clumsy group, whose individual errors were eagerly exploited by Madrid, who went in to the break already four goals up. Granada’s project this season started with Paco Jémez and then Lucas Alcaraz is showing few signs of conviction by those charged with carrying it forward: a Chinese billionaire and with Pere Guardiola turning the cogs, all based on a business strategy of bringing in players from around the world. With the Pozzo family and Pina at the helm it was similar and the club survived five years in Primera. But this looks considerably worse.