Barcelona’s win over Cadiz on Saturday put them provisionally on top of the league standings and only a win for Real Madrid would see them leapfrog their arch-rivals. In theory, a win over Mallorca should have been easy but Real Madrid suffered against them on Sunday.
Carlo Ancelotti fielded a heavily rotated lineup with the likes of Eden Hazard, Dani Ceballos, Antonio Rudiger and Lucas Vazquez receiving starts.
The hosts had the better chances in the first half but could not make the most of them. Despite Real Madrid dominating the proceedings, it was Mallorca who took the early lead through Vedat Muriqi.
But Federico Valverde scored a screamer to send both teams on level terms into half-time. And the hosts came back with an explosive second half to blow away the opposition. Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Rudiger all got on the scoresheet as they ran away to a 4-1 win.
Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings from Sunday’s game.
Thibaut Courtois: 7
Not much he could do about the opener, did well to keep his team in the game by making a crucial save in the opening minutes.
Lucas Vasquez: 7.5
The Spanish international was a lively presence on the right flank and was regularly involved in the buildup sequences with Valverde and Rodrygo. Defensively, he was calm and composed and did well to contain Kang-in Lee.
Antonio Rudiger: 7
Not his best defensive performance. Often allowed the visitors into the box from the right side, especially for Antonio Sanchez’s chance in the second half. However, he got his first goal for the club with a neat finish in the final minute of the game.
David Alaba: 7
Was the better of the two centre-backs but still far from his best.
Ferland Mendy: 3.5
A poor first half with an unnecessary yellow card. The Frenchman was ball-watching during Mallorca’s opener and looked lost in the final third. The second half was better, but it is clear why Ancelotti does not see him as a long-term solution.
Federico Valverde: 9
Valverde was everywhere on the field – winning balls, orchestrating the play and challenging the opponents’ goal. He can take complete credit for the team’s equaliser in the final minute of the first half as he took the ball across the field and hammered it beyond the reach of Rajkovic by himself.
Toni Kroos: 8
Silently carried the team through the middle of the park and acted like the adhesive that kept the side together. Completed over 100 passes and played well in the role of a pivot.
Dani Ceballos: 8
The Spaniard was given a rare start by Ancelotti and he took his chance with both hands. He was Real Madrid’s most important midfielder on the afternoon with his press resistance and incisive passes. Often, it was his final ball that led to direct chances on the goal.
A constant threat in the final third and had several chances to score himself. Eventually got the assist for Vinicius’ goal with some calm control under pressure.
His best moment in the game came in the penultimate minute of regulation time as he ran past the Mallorca defence and scored a wonder goal.
Eden Hazard: 6
Made his presence felt with some tight pass sequences in the opposition box. Yet, he was still invisible for large periods of the game.
Vinicius Jr: 9
The Brazilian oozed confidence and toyed around with Mallorca’s defenders on numerous occasions. However, it was not his best performance in front of the goal in the first half. Later in the day, however, he changed that with a well-worked finish to give Real Madrid a 2-1 lead.
Luka Modric: 7.5
Came on in the 60th minute and immediately took over the reins in midfield. Seemingly created a chance almost every time he touched the ball. Once again showed the world why he is the best in the business.
Nacho Fernandez: 6
Did what was needed of him after replacing Mendy.
Eduardo Camavinga: 6
Came in, completed all his passes and won all his duels.
Dani Carvajal: 7
Came on to replace Vazquez and did exceedingly well to fortify Real Madrid’s right wing. Also got the assist for Rodrygo’s goal.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Granada | La Liga
Napoli fought tooth and nail for all three points against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this week. They took the early lead in the first half, then fought back to find an equaliser after Real Madrid put two past them.
In the end, however, they were outdone by the hosts’ resilience and never-say-die attitude. The result thus registered Real Madrid’s fourth win on the trot and twelfth game without a defeat.
The men in white must now look ahead to their next La Liga game scheduled to kick off in just over 24 hours. Faced against Granada in a critical matchday, the aim will be to take all three points and thus maintain a healthy position in the standings.
Ancelotti announced some key recoveries in his pre-match press conference and also confirmed that Jude Bellingham would be fit to participate on the evening. Yet, he is concurrently in a difficult moment in terms of squad fitness.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Granada vs Real Madrid.
A clash of two poles
While Ancelotti’s Real Madrid sit lavishly on the top of La Liga’s standings, their opponents for Saturday afternoon have quite a contrasting fate. Granada sit on the other end of the league table and find themselves in a desolate situation 14 match days into the season.
Granada are currently 19th in La Liga with just one win in 14 games, and have changed managers, with Alexander Medina replacing Paco Lopez. They have lost a staggering nine games and walked away with one point on four occasions.
Granada have only scored 19 goals all season while conceding on 33 occasions. Comparing the numbers to Real Madrid’s 31 goals scored and nine goals conceded speaks volumes about the form of both teams heading into tomorrow’s clash.
The visitors’ last win in La Liga came back in August, and it is safe to say that a victory vs Real Madrid will do them a world of good. They will be the underdogs at the Bernabeu, but nothing is impossible considering that they drew with Barcelona not so long ago.
Saturday’s clash will thus be interesting, to say the least. With the injury-inflicted league leaders taking on a relegation-threatened side, the script cannot be predicted.
The rising phenomenon
Real Madrid’s injury crisis has not been easy on the manager. Ancelotti has been forced to rework his dynamics time and time again with a new player falling prey to the endless pit in every game.
The Italian is now in a situation where he has only four players left in the middle of the park. Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, and Dani Ceballos all started Real Madrid’s last game but it was young Nico Paz who stole the headlines.
The youngster has risen to prominence in Los Blancos’ latest injury emergency and his prominence has only increased over the past weeks. In the team’s latest outing against Napoli, he was on the field for close to half an hour and scored a crucial goal in the 84th minute.
With a tight schedule ahead and limited resources at his disposal, Ancelotti must look to rotate his men in midfield. Paz, on that front, is the Italian gaffer’s best choice and must look to make the most of his minutes tomorrow.
The golden chance
The biggest talking point from La Liga so far has been Girona’s stunning run at the beginning of the season. The Catalan side surprised everyone with win after win and stole the headlines by retaining the sole lead in the league until match day 13.
After six straight wins, Athletic Club broke Girona’s streak last weekend with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Estadi Montilivi. Having dropped two points, they are now level with Real Madrid in the standings with 35 points in 14 games.
It will thus be Ancelotti’s objective to take all three points against Granada and make a strong push towards taking the lead over Girona. After all, the co-leaders face a difficult opponent in Valencia and could well drop points.
Moreover, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to face off later this weekend. One, or both of the Spanish giants will drop points on the night, thus giving Real Madrid further impetus to gun for all three points tomorrow.
Considering the team’s good run of form in recent games, the dressing room will be confident about securing the much-needed result.