Real Madrid 2-0 Granada: 6 Things We Learned

Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2014

Real Madrid 2-0 Granada: 6 Things We Learned

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Real Madrid saw off visitors Granada on Saturday by the score of 2-0 after a difficult start to the match. The visitors put up a good fight in the Santiago Bernabeu, but in the end Los Blancos would just be too much to handle.

    Cristiano Ronaldo was yet again in fine form opening the scoring before Karim Benzema doubled the lead. For the time being, Real Madrid are at the top of the table but that could change by the end of the weekend.

    So just what can we take away from the thrilling match in Madrid? In this article we will look at six things we learned from the match and discuss what they mean for both clubs.

     

    *Statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com

Granada Deserve Praise

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    For the most part, Spanish clubs have a reputation for "laying down" against the likes of Real Madrid. Granada is not one of those clubs and they proved that on Saturday.

    Granada are known to be fighters who play without fear and always refuse to be beaten. Manager Lucas Alcaraz always has his players fired up for every game and it shows on the pitch.

    In the first half Granada gave Real Madrid a big fight. They defended well and even caused a few problems on the attack. But the most admirable thing about the way they played was the fact that they were not afraid to go forward.

    Even after going down 2-0, they refused to just let the game end. The kept attacking and showed a fighting spirit that is lacking in the game today.

    Granada has earned the reputation of being a difficult opponent no matter who they are playing. They have improved every year since returning to the Primera in 2011 and show no signs of slowing down.

    Hats off to Granada.

     

Jese Is Quietly Working His Way Past Gareth Bale

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Gareth Bale may be the most expensive player in football history, but it is Jesé who has been stealing the show as of late.

    Bale has been very hot and cold since joining Real Madrid. In some games he is putting in goals and giving wonderful assists, and in others he is completely invisible as he was against Granada.

    The Welshman has also been struggling with injuries this season and was subbed off at halftime. Though it could have been a tactical change, it also could have been because he was kicked between the legs in the first half.

    He was replaced by Jesé, and once again the 20-year-old put in a wonderful performance.

    It is difficult to remember a game in which Jese did not play well. He has been the epitome of consistency this season and always makes a big impact on every game he plays in.

    In a very real sense, Jesé is currently Real Madrid's most dangerous player not named Cristiano Ronaldo. Bale may have broke the transfer fee record, but Jesé is quietly making his case to be in the starting lineup.

Roberto Continued His Incredible Form in Goal

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Granada goalkeeper Roberto not only saved Ronaldo's insane bicycle kick, he also made three other unbelievable stops throughout the match. But it should also be mentioned that Roberto has been playing like this all season.

    The 35-year-old has arguably been Granada's best player this season and nearly stole points from Real Madrid on Saturday. Though he made big stops, it was his presence that made things the most difficult for Real Madrid.

    Cristiano Ronaldo was finally able to open up the scoring by slotting his shot into the far corner where Roberto had no chance of reaching it. Despite conceding two goals, Roberto was a wall and you have to feel bad for him not getting anything out of the match in the end.

    Real Madrid players were visibly frustrated by Roberto which affected the way they played in and around the box. Granada have had a great season thus far and a lot of their success comes back to how Roberto has been performing between the sticks.

Another Spectacular Performance from the Real Madrid Defense

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Real Madrid has been in spectacular form since the start of 2014 having won every match thus far. However, the most impressive thing during their run is the fact that they have yet to concede a goal.

    Carlo Ancelotti has finally gotten things figured out at the back and it is paying major dividends.

    The match against Granada was just another clear example of how well the backline has been playing. The defense did not put a foot wrong and Xabi Alonso provided excellent coverage in front of the back four.

    It is also interesting to note that Real Madrid have been defending as a team lately. Players are tracking back to provide coverage and the results speak for themselves.

    Just how long can the club go without conceding a goal? Nobody knows. But it is clear that this Real Madrid side is a well-oiled machine at the moment.

Cristiano Ronaldo Is Playing Like a Man Possessed

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Cristiano Ronaldo is in the form of his life. The Real Madrid star continues to score goals and change games and he isn’t showing any signs of stopping.

    Against Granada the Portugal captain got off seven great shots including one that hit the crossbar and a bicycle kick that was miraculously saved. In the end he was finally able to beat the keeper with an expertly placed shot which won the game for Los Blancos.

    It doesn’t seem as though anyone has an answer for Ronaldo. Roberto did well to keep the 28-year-old at bay, but that only lasted for a short while.

    It may be the fact that he was just awarded the Ballon d’Or, or maybe it is his competitive nature. Either way, Ronaldo is playing like a man possessed and just very well may be the deadliest forward in the game right now.

    He may have only scored one goal against Granada, but the way he played showed his determination and unwillingness to give up. Ronaldo is in dominant form right now and Real Madrid are certainly hoping that it doesn’t stop.

All of the Pressure Is on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    For the second week in a row, Real Madrid have forced the hands of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Their surging run has now put them on the top of the La Liga table and their opponents must respond.

    There is no pressure on Real Madrid at the moment. They are playing well and have been in third place for most of the season. Any points they make up will be massive, but they aren't expected to take control of the top of the table right now.

    At the same time, Barcelona and Ateltico Madrid have allowed Los Blancos to get back in the title race. They have both dropped points recently and need to get results this weekend to go back in front of Real Madrid.

    With Real Madrid's victory over Granada, they have forced Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to win this week. Neither side can afford to drop points right now which has put all the pressure on them.

    The only thing Real Madrid have to worry about at the moment is keeping pace and playing well, while Barcelona and Atletico know they must keep Los Blancos at bay.

    The La Liga title race keeps getting more and more interesting by the week. There is no way of predicting who will lift the trophy at the end of the season and you can bet that these next few weeks will be massive for all three clubs.