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Three lessons learned from Granada 0-4 Real Madrid

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Matchday 35 of La Liga saw Real Madrid take on Granada at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes on Saturday evening in what was the team’s first game after being declared league champions.

The hosts, fresh off the news of their imminent relegation, were far from their confident best. Yet, they did well to put up resistance against the champions in the initial period though they eventually caved into the pressure.

Fran Garcia opened the scoring for the Merengues in the 38th minute before young Arda Guler doubled the lead just before half-time.

A Brahim Diaz brace just after half-time took the men in white’s lead to 4-0 on the night, putting the result well beyond doubt.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Granada 0-4 Real Madrid.

Not a ‘B’ team

Changes were aplenty when Real Madrid took on Granada last night at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.

With ten changes from the lineup that featured in the semifinal against Bayern Munich, it is not unfair to call last night’s line-up to be Real Madrid’s best backup lineup.

Almost every player dressed in white last night put up a show to remember. Fran Garcia was splendid down the left wing and even capped off his performance with a goal while Vazquez created one big chance and dished out a defensive clinic.

Modric and Ceballos both recorded an assist each and were flawless with their distribution, dictating the play in the middle of the park. Guler, meanwhile, got on the scoresheet once more making it two goals in his last three appearances.

Diaz all the way

Of all the Real Madrid players on the field at Los Carmenes, Brahim Diaz was the team’s best performer once again.

The Spanish-Moroccan star dazzled in the final third against Granada and was almost unplayable with his progressive carries.

Diaz assisted Fran Garcia’s opener with a well-worked ball to the flank from a promising position, showing great decision-making under pressure.

His impact only grew in the second half of the game as he single-handedly sealed the tie in Real Madrid’s favour.

With a spectacular run from the halfway line just four minutes after the restart of play, Diaz went on a sensational solo run and slammed the ball into the bottom left corner with a curler.

He then went on to make it 4-0 for Los Blancos two minutes shy of the hour mark, getting on the end of Luka Modric’s well-worked ball to the centre.

Apart from his goal contributions, Diaz also recorded a stunning seven successful dribbles out of ten attempted, made one key pass and completed 100% of his long balls attempted.

The youngster is, at this point, making a serious case for a starting spot under Carlo Ancelotti.

Joselu’s mixed week

Joselu was Real Madrid’s hero midweek, scoring twice in the dying minutes to take his side through to the final of the UEFA Champions League. He was only on the field for nine minutes on that night, yet played the most crucial role for the team.

Against Granada, however, the veteran striker was given the start but dished out a very poor performance through the ninety minutes.

Playing the entire game, Joselu managed just nine accurate passes and 22 touches, averaging one pass every ten minutes.

His off-the-ball movement was not up to the mark and he was relatively invisible for large parts of the game.

The Spanish marksman had three big chances against Granada and let all three go begging, thus failing to convert from an xG of 1.04 on the night.

Joselu’s performance last night will go largely unnoticed under the shadow of his phenomenal showing midweek. Still, it is vital to point out that he was the team’s weak link on the night.

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Three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Jr, Federico Valverde and Arda Guler were all on target when Real Madrid demolished Deportivo Alaves by a 5-0 scoreline midweek.

The win at the Santiago Bernabeu took the team to 93 points in La Liga, with the champion status already earned. The target now, however, is to reach the magical number of 99 points.

Tomorrow, Los Blancos step on the field for their penultimate league clash of the season as they lock horns against Villarreal.

Their opponents, currently placed eighth in the league, are fighting for a place in Europe and must win tomorrow at Estadio de La Ceramica if they are to remain in the race.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid.

Can Bellingham maintain the steam?

Jude Bellingham’s dip in form towards the end of the season raised many concerns in the Real Madrid offices over his fitness and physical state. A mini ‘pre-season’ was said to be in the manager’s plan, especially keeping Bellingham’s recovery in mind.

The young midfielder, however, started the team’s game against Deportivo Alaves once more despite rumours of him being rested and dished out a classic on the night. His performance, in many senses, was one that announced his return to form.

In 90 minutes against Alaves, Bellingham scored one goal and provided two assists as the game ended 5-0 in Real Madrid’s favour.

Furthermore, the former Borussia Dortmund star recorded a staggering 121 touches, 99 passes, six key passes and created one big chance. He also completed four dribbles on the night and participated in eight defensive actions.

It thus becomes a serious question ahead of tomorrow’s clash as to how Carlo Ancelotti plans on managing Bellingham’s minutes.

The obvious approach would be to field the youngster from the start and reward his improved performance at the weekend. Concurrently, however, there is concern over the midfielder being overused which inhibits the manager from such a move.

Will Bellingham start against Villarreal or will the likes of Brahim Diaz or Arda Guler get a deserved start? Only time will tell.

Lunin’s heroic exit

Thibaut Courtois’ injury before the commencement of the new season left Real Madrid with a crisis in goal. The repercussions of the blow, however, were not as dire as expected courtesy of Andriy Lunin’s exceptional performances.

Lunin could play his final game of the season vs Villarreal. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Despite starting the campaign behind Kepa Arrizabalaga on the pecking order, the Ukrainian international has done enough to become the team’s primary goalkeeper across all competitions.

Only Courtois’ return last month displaced him from the starting lineup as the manager prioritised bringing the Belgian superstar back to full fitness.

Real Madrid now plan on starting Courtois for the big UCL final at Wembley next month.

While unfair on Lunin who deserves the start, one cannot blame Ancelotti for relying on the player who single-handedly kept the team in the game the last time they featured in a European final.

With Courtois set to start against Real Betis and Borrusia Dortmund, tomorrow could well be Lunin’s final game of the season for Real Madrid and the 25-year-old will look to depart with a bang.

Momentum is paramount

Real Madrid have already been crowned the champions of La Liga, and every game that remains in the competition at this point only serves as a practice encounter for the big challenge that lies ahead.

Los Blancos take on Borussia Dortmund in the finale of the UCL early next month, and only two games remain before the season-defining encounter. A lot, needless to say, will depend on how Ancelotti manages his squad for the two matches that lie ahead.

Considering that the calendar is no longer as hectic as it was a month ago, the manager could well field his best XI against Villarreal aiming to keep the momentum going for his side. After all, it is paramount at this stage in the season.

At the same time, however, the manager must rotate his squad ahead to give fringe players some deserved minutes and balance the playing time of regular starters.

Los Blancos, at this point, are unbeaten in 23 games across all competitions and have the momentum fairly on their side. Maintaining it with a positive result tomorrow irrespective of the final decision on the extent of rotations will thus be crucial for the Merengues.

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