Simeone is right to reject the role of favourites that so many are keen to give Atlético Madrid, because Real Madrid are not giving up easily. On Wednesday night they won their sixth game in a row, with more difficulty than the previous encounters, with less flair, but they won it. They lacked the fluid football of recent games (without Modric nothing is the same) but they got stuck in and managed to grab a win in a tough game. Granada is proving to be a decent team this year - the work of Diego Martínez, a coach who little was expected of, but who works extremely well. His team are performing in Europe and in LaLiga.
Zidane won the game with a reduced squad, but one which offers him guarantees. It’s a group that have got the team out of what was a tight spot. One of the group picked up an injury yesterday: Rodrygo. He pulled a muscle, and it looks serious. He was crying from the pain. It was so painful he was taken away on a stretcher. That led to Asensio coming on, who produced a couple of moments of magic. He hit the post, and crossed for the first goal. A fine cross, from a great winger, right from the byline. He’s such a good player and was outstanding in his first few matches for Madrid, but he’s lost confidence after his injury. Zidane wants him back to his best.
With the score at 1-0, Zidane gave Isco a chance. He’s another fine player, but he’s lost his magic, nobody knows how nor where. And there was was little to say about him against Granada. Madrid finished on the backfoot, struggling to deal with the freekicks that Luis Milla Junior sent into Courtois’ box with Germanic precision, a set piece Granada have got down to a tee. The visitors’ pressure lasted until time added on, when Benzema popped up with another goal to ensure the scoreline flattered Madrid. Benzema didn’t have the best night, but the striker was focused and ready to help, improving every attack. Madrid are not giving up. Merry Christmas.