Granada vs. Real Madrid: 3 Best and Worst Players from Historic Upset

Michael CernaCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2013

Granada vs. Real Madrid: 3 Best and Worst Players from Historic Upset

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    Granada will probably be celebrating all weekend after a huge, historic upset against the reigning champions of Spain.

    El Grana beat Real Madrid for the first time since 1972 and earned a massive victory that lifted them out of the relegation zone.

    Cristiano Ronaldo scored the lone goal, but it was unfortunately (for him) put into the wrong net.

    Los Merengues will finish the season with losses in every trip to Andalusia—previously to Malaga, Sevilla and Real Betis.

    The hosts were very inspired and looked the better team throughout, while the title holders barely had a single praiseworthy player on the pitch.

    What follows are the three worst, and three best players from the match.

Best of the Match: Mikel Rico

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    If the jerseys were switched, it would have been very easy to confuse Mikel Rico for Xabi Alonso this weekend.

    Granada's 28-year-old midfielder was sensational against Real Madrid in every aspect of the game.

    Rico completely shut down Angel di Maria—both Cristiano Ronaldo and the Madrid strikers were forced to target the right side throughout the night to make space in the central attack.

     

    The Perfect Pivot

    At the back, the Spaniard's defensive work was excellent as he formed a nearly unbreakable barrier with Diego Mainz.

    The former Huesca man made four key interceptions, including one from Modric that would have seen Ronaldo alone with the keeper around the hour mark.

    He was also the key man in attack, starting counter-attacks throughout the night that looked more like last year's league champions than Madrid ever did on the night.

    Rico was the best player on the pitch against Madrid and might have saved his team from relegation for another year.

Worst of the Match: Angel di Maria

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    Angel di Maria's characteristic inconsistencies were on display once again this weekend, much to the disappointment of Madridistas everywhere.

    The Argentine can no longer find any consistency, even against far weaker opponents—formerly the only thing giving fans hope that he could still become a world-class star.

    Against Granada, di Maria failed to really make his presence known for almost an hour.

    When his name was spoken, it was usually because he lost the ball in the box, failed to pass to an open teammate in position to score, or went to ground after minimal contact.

    Even Jose Mourinho failed to mask his frustration with di Maria. Not even a potential injury was enough to earn the winger some sympathy from his coach.

    The once highly-touted winger may explode against weak full-backs every couple of months, but this match just reiterated how very little he brings to Madrid on a consistent basis.

Best: Diego Mainz

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    Diego Mainz has been one of the top center-backs in La Liga this season, but many casual fans have failed to realize such to date.

    After completely neutralizing two top-class strikers in Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, people should start praising the Granada skipper more.

    The 30-year-old captain ran himself silly against Madrid and helped prevent last season's record-breaking attack from registering a single shot on goal for over an hour.

    Apart from one moment where he was too aggressive going after Angel di Maria at the top of the box, Mainz didn't really put a foot in the wrong place all night.

    Thankfully for the defender, the winger wasted that chance with a bad pass to Jose Callejon and the ball was lost out of play.

Worst: Karim Benzema & Gonzalo Higuain

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    What on earth has happened to this once-great pair of strikers?

    Last season Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema were scoring more than 20 goals apiece.

    This year, neither player looks remotely worthy of starting for Real Madrid and each has plenty of people calling for him to be sold this summer.

    Both Benzema and Higuain went the entire match without getting a single shot on goal and took the bite completely out of Madrid's attack.

    No offense to Granada, but these strikers weren't exactly overwhelmed with defensive quality—there is no excuse.

    Service was definitely an issue since the pair only managed 33 touches on the night combined—two less than Diego Lopez, the keeper—but the poor play has only continued here.

    With players like Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani almost constantly discussed as targets for the club, neither of the current strikers should feel too safe with their jobs right now.

Best: Alvaro Arbeloa

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    With all due credit to Cristiano Ronaldo—who worked very hard all night—there was only one Madrid player earning his paycheck against Granada.

    Alvaro Arbeloa seems to perpetually be the most unfairly unwanted Real Madrid player, but he is the only reason Los Merengues were not even more embarrassed this weekend.

    The right-back was superb in this loss and saved at least one goal with a fine clearance that kept Nolito off the ball.

    Although, it has to be said that the tackle was made only because he lost the offside trap and failed to stay with his man in the first place.

     

    Tireless Effort

    Arbeloa actually managed more touches (115) than anyone else on the pitch while also completing the higher percentage of passes (95%).

    The full-back made nine tackles, five clearances and two tackles on the night.

    He got very little help from either of his defensive midfielders, but that did not stop Arbeloa from having a quality performance.

     

    Who do you think were the best and worst players from Real Madrid's loss to Granada?