Following the bitterly disappointing result in the El Clasico, it was clear that Real Madrid needed to deliver a response and much to the delight of the fans; Los Blancos managed to do just that with an emphatic 9-1 victory over struggling Granada.
It was a quite stunning performance from Madrid on the day and as a measure of Carlo Ancelotti’s men dominance of the game, it would be fair to state that they could have won the clash with an even bigger margin.
Nonetheless asking for more than nine goals from a single game would be simply too greedy and at the end, the resounding victory gives Madrid a much needed confidence boost ahead of what looks set to be arguably the most important period of the season for the Spanish giants.
Five things we learned from the clash –
1. Cristiano Ronaldo simply a class above the rest
It is almost a rule of thumb that whenever Real Madrid endure a poor run of form, Cristiano Ronaldo comes under scrutiny and conversely, when Los Blancos do well – it is inevitably the Portuguese superstar who is the orchestrator.
With Madrid having claimed a 9-1 victory, it was no surprise that Ronaldo was the star man and his performance which included a sensational five goal haul, has to go down among one of the best ever individual displays in La Liga.
Ronaldo was simply faultless on the day and the five goals in a single game was a first of his illustrious career. From the personal record standpoint, Ronaldo also managed his 24th La Liga hattrick while his quick fire triple was the fastest ever from a Real Madrid player in over half a century.
More importantly though, Ronaldo managed to empathically shut the critics who had put his performances following the turn of the year under the microscope and fans are in no doubt that their hero is back to his best to lead Madrid’s difficult but very possible title challenge.
2. Bale and Benzema deliver a timely reminder of their qualities
It is normal for the players to get pilloried following a defeat at the hands of Barcelona but Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, in particular, received disgusting levels of criticism from the media as well as fans.
While the abuse was most certainly harsh, the duo had no other option but to accept it and look to make amends during the following game.
Therefore apart from Ronaldo’s brilliant performance, Bale and Benzema reminding everyone what they are capable of against Granada – would have also been very pleasing for Ancelotti as well as the fans.
Bale and Benzema may have gotten upstaged by Ronaldo but the duo did manage to steal the Madrid faithful’s breath away with some wonderful moments of genius throughout the match and contrary to popular belief, it provided a testament to the fact that Los Blancos are more than just a one man show.
3. Stupendous Marcelo’s contribution cannot be overlooked
As is the case in football, the ones who scores the goals steals all the glory and unsurprisingly, the BBC trio received the plaudits following the fine 9-1 triumph.
However, it would be almost criminal not to appreciate the contribution of the rest of the team and in particular of marauding left back Marcelo. The Brazilian has quietly been one of the best players for Madrid over the few years and his performance down the left was a joy to watch.
Linking up superbly with his attacking players, Marcelo was a constant menace to the Granada backline and it is fair to state that it was his fine display which allowed the likes of Ronaldo and James to weave their magic more effectively.
Admittedly, Marcelo was helped by the fact that he virtually had no defending to do whatsoever during the clash but one cannot take anything away from his marvelous showing.
4. The return of James provides more balance
In a day to remember for Madrid, the return of James Rodriguez from a long term injury was another huge positive and the manner at which the Colombian superstar managed to fit seamlessly into the scheme of things was very encouraging to watch.
The starting lineup which had been put up against Granada was arguably Ancelotti’s strongest XI and the fluid display on show has to be largely attributed to the return of James.
There is no doubting that Isco has done fantastically well during the absence of James but the World Cup Golden Boot winner looks a clear upgrade on the Spaniard and with him in the team, Madrid seemed to regain the balance in midfield which had been sorely missing during the last few matches.
The trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and James is capable of working like clockwork and with a couple of huge games coming up; the Colombian star’s return could prove to be a huge boon.
5. Let’s not get carried away
It is difficult to shrug off a 9-1 triumph as simply another regulation victory but the fact of the matter remains that Madrid are still second favourites in the title race.
Granada are certainly not the best team in the world and despite the many positives, Madrid still have an uphill mountain to climb both in La Liga as well as the Champions League in order to avoid ending the current campaign empty handed.
What the victory has done is given Madrid’s battered confidence a much needed boost but at the same time, it is easy to get complacent as well and Los Blancos surely cannot allow this to happen as they do not have any room for errors.