Real Madrid player ratings after 2-1 victory over Granada
Luka Modric shone in Los Cármenes with Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy providing the goals. Thibaut Courtois and Sergio Ramos were decisive.
Real Madrid narrowly escaped Los Cármenes with a vital 2-1 win to keep their title charge on track but were made to work hard in a second half dominated by the home side. Ferland Mendy and Karim Benzema gave the visitors an early two-goal cushion but Darwin Machís pulled one back on 50 minutes, leaving Madrid to defend their advantage as Granada hustled for an equaliser.
Here’s how Zinedine Zidane’s players performed.
Thibaut Courtois: Another solid game from the Belgian, who punched clear in the first half under pressure and made a good save from Domingos Duarte’s header. The Madrid stopper was beaten at his near post by Machís but then made another smart save from the Venezuelan’s volley.
Dani Carvajal: Tireless work on the right from the Spain international was vital throughout the game with Madrid playing no recognised wingers from the start. However, he was left flat-footed by Machís for Granada’s goal and didn’t provide his usual attacking threat as he sought to stem the home side’s forays on his flank.
Raphaël Varane: Dealt with what little attacking threat Granada presented in the first half but could do nothing to intercept a fine through ball for Machís’ effort.
Sergio Ramos: Returning after suspension, the Real Madrid captain brought his experience to bear by moving Madrid’s defensive line up to protect Courtois. He struggled to contain Machís in the second half and got into a couple of slanging matches with Granada players as the home side pressed for the equaliser. Ramos again proved decisive for his side, not with a goal this time but with a goal-line clearance with Courtois beaten.
Ferland Mendy: The Frenchman has already displayed his defensive aptitudes this season and his ability to keep opposition wingers occupied but nobody expected his debut goal for Madrid to be such a bold attacking move. Slipping a pass to himself between two defenders, he thrashed the ball into the net at Rui Silva’s near post, leaving the Portuguese grasping air.
Casemiro: Operating in Zidane’s five-man midfield, the Brazilian put in a dood opening 45 minutes but lost his concentration to gift Granada the ball that started the move for Machís’ goal. Yangel Herrera pickpocketed Casemiro and then supplied the wonderful pass to set the Venezulan up for his strike. He made up for it by cutting out a ball from Carlos Fernández that would have sent Machís through one-on-one again.
Toni Kroos: A good opening 45 from the German, who operated on the left and controlled the tempo. Like his teammates, he took his eye off the ball at the beginning of the second half but recovered to put in a decent shift in defence after Granada scored.
Luka Modric: A vintage display in the first half with an assist for Benzema and excellent wotk on the ball. Zidane deployed Modric at the tip of his midfield in almost a playmaker role in support of the Frenchman on the right and he was able to get in between the Granada lines. He suffered a bit in the second half when the tide turned but always provided a clear head and pressed tirelessly.
Fede Valverde: The Uruguayan is not at full fitness and Zidane used him in a central role along with Casemiro and Kroos. He didn’t do much with the ball but fiund space intelligently to aid Madrid’s press. Zidane hooked him on 63 minutes when he had burned up his reserves of energy.
Isco: Played a similar role to Modric but on the left, where he combined with Benzema and Mendy. A clever back-heel flick under pressure started the move for Benzema’s goal but fatigue set in in the second half. Isco had a couple of chances to get on the scoresheet himself, a trademark curler that was placed too close to Rui Silva and a shot across goal early on that forced the Portuguese into a diving stop.
Karim Benzema: Excellent in the first half and scored a wonderful goal to put Madrid 2-0 up, finishing the move that Isco started with light feet in the area and a shot hammered past Rui Silva at the far post. He almost has a second with a fierce shot from a tight angle that the Portuguese did well to tip over the bar.
Rodrygo: Came on for Isco and immediately made an impression, stealing into the area and squaring across goal. Later he moved out to the left wing to try and stretch Granada’s back line and give Madrid more options to come out from the back.
Asensio: On for Valverde in a double change, Asensio switched wings regularly in search of the ball but found it was Rodrygo who was most sought out by his teammates.
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