6 - Andalusia could be a happier hunting ground for Madrid
Last year, Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid contrived to lose all of the side’s four league games in the Spanish province. A 1-0 defeat to Granada was matched by losses to Sevilla, Betis and Malaga. Activity down south is looking a little perkier for the capital city club after a narrow victory in the region, the first away clash of the current campaign for the club.
5 - Clean sheets are back in fashion
Monday’s 1-0 win over Granada may not look all that impressive on paper, considering the gulf in quality and resources of the two teams. Nevertheless, the clean sheet for Real Madrid is very much a rarity these days. In fact, the last time the Santiago Bernabeu side managed to completely shut out the opposition in the league was back in the middle of April against Athletic Bilbao, eight games ago.
4 - A bolder approach away from home
The defensive double pivot so beloved by Fabio Capello during a second spell at the Bernabeu certainly isn’t a formation likely to be adopted by the Italian’s countryman, Carlo Ancelotti. The logical choice to replace the injured Sami Khedira for the Granada clash would have been Casemiro.
Instead, in a move that would have given the former England boss the willies, the current boss opted for two fairly slight creative midfielders in front of the back four. Not a 6'5" strapping fellow in sight.
3 - Karim Benzema is ahead of the curve
Without any immediate competition up front, Madrid’s French striker should be aiming to score more than 25 league goals this season. Twenty-five is a fairly modest target considering Benzema’s talents and that the supply line to the footballer consists of players of the quality of Mesut Oezil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Isco. The winning effort against Granada and his strike at Betis see Benzema more than keeping up a scoring rate to beat that target.
2 - Cristiano Ronaldo has other matters on his mind
A sparkling preseason for the Portuguese superstar has been followed by a bit of a duff start to the league campaign, with two stuttering appearances. This leaves the (perhaps overreaching) suggestion that Ronaldo may have something else buzzing around his mind, other than goalscoring or fancy-pants assists.
Normally, that would be whether he is happy, his next contract deal or if his hair gel is going to make it through to the end of the game. Currently, it might be the imminent arrival of a Welshman who is going to earn a bigger transfer fee and be sharing Ronaldo’s limelight as the image of Real Madrid.
1 - Maybe Jose Mourinho wasn’t so mean after all
When the former Real Madrid boss impatiently told the press last season that the reason that Diego Lopez was being picked ahead of Iker Casillas to start in goal for Madrid was because he thought the newly arrived keeper was better, the suspicion was that there was something more personal going on. After all, the Portuguese coach's decision-making was often fishy.
On reflection, perhaps the Chelsea boss was done a disservice on this occasion and ought to have been taken at face value. Ancelotti has come in with fresh eyes and a fresh attitude and also opted to play Lopez in goal for both the side’s league clashes at the start of the new campaign.
If the Italian boss also feels that the club captain is not up to the job then Casillas may begin to think the unthinkable and move away from Real Madrid.