In their final home game of the year in the 2020-21 La Liga, Real Madrid overcame a stubborn Granada 2-0 to go joint top of the league table with Atletico Madrid. Both Los Blancos goals came in the second half, with Casemiro and Karim Benzema finding the back of the net.
Real Madrid were dealt a blow when Rodrygo had to be subbed off in the 38th minute due to an injury. The Brazilian looked sharp on the pitch but could not continue after seemingly pulling his hamstring. Marco Asensio came on and left his mark on the game by setting up the opener.
In a goalless first half, both sides had their chances, but the visitors looked the more likely to open the scoring. Granada could have scored an early opener when Roberto Soldado nicked the ball off Raphael Varane and squared to Puertas, who blazed over from 12 yards out.
The second half started on the same note as the first, with Granada having a shot on goal within the opening minute. However, Real Madrid held firm and began to assert their ascendancy in the game, with Marco Asensio's backheel hitting the post in the 56th minute.
Nevertheless, it was Casemiro who gave the hosts the lead. In the process, he became the second-highest scoring player for Los Merengues this term behind Karim Benzema. The Frenchman then scored in the last minute of the game to seal all three points for Real Madrid.
Real Madrid had to fight hard for their fifth league win on the trot to go keep pace with league leaders Atletico Madrid, who have two games in hand. On that note, let us take a look at the Real Madrid player ratings in the game.
Real Madrid Player Ratings:
Thibaut Courtois: 6.5/10
There was nothing much to say about Thibault Courtois' performance on the night. The Belgian shot-stopper was lucky to not have conceded an early goal in the game after his defenders left him at the mercy of Granada's attackers. However, Courtois held firm to keep Real Madrid's citadel intact.
Dani Carvajal: 6.5/10
Dani Carvajal put in another solid shift at right-back and was involved in much of Real Madrid's build-up play. He received passes on the right flank, recorded three shots on target and also put in a few decent crosses into the Granada box. However, he was not very busy defensively and could've avoided a booking.
Raphael Varane: 6/10
It was an uncharacteristically poor performance from Raphael Varane. The Frenchman was caught napping very early on in the game and was only saved his blushes because of Granada's poor finishing. There were three separate instances when Varane's decision-making was questionable.
Sergio Ramos: 7/10
Sergio Ramos had a quiet but effective outing at the heart of the Real Madrid defence. With Varane not having a great night, Ramos brought his experience to the fore, winning a game-best four aerial duels on the night.
Ferland Mendy: 6.5/10
Ferland Mendy's contributions in attack took a hit after Marco Asensio came on late in the first half. Nevertheless, Mendy had a decent game at both ends of the pitch and was available to receive passes in wide positions.
Toni Kroos: 7.5/10
In his 200th La Ligaappearance for Real Madrid, Toni Kroos was one of the busiest players on the pitch. He made as many as 79 passes, doing so with a 94% accuracy, and delivered a game-best ten crosses for his teammates. Kroos did not have much to do defensively in another faultless performance.
Casemiro, who has made a habit of scoring big goals for Real Madrid, lived up to his billing by scoring the opener against Granada. The Brazilian scored a thumping header from Asensio's cross to give Real Madrid the lead at the hour mark. He was one of the busiest players on the pitch and completed his defensive duties with aplomb as well, making the most interceptions (4).
Federico Valverde: 6.5/10
Federico Valverde had a pretty average outing and did not have much of an impact on the game. The Uruguayan midfielder had a shot saved by Rui Silva in the second half. He did not make a single interception, tackle or block throughout the game.
Lucas Vasquez: 6.5/10
Lucas Vasquez was involved in some half-chances in the game. He had only one shot on target and created only one key pass before he was taken off in the 77th minute.
Rodrygo was taken off the pitch in the 38th minute after apparently incurring a hamstring injury.
Karim Benzema: 7.5/10
Karim Benzema scored his 12th goal in all competitions to continue his fine run of recent form for the reigning champions. The striker was profligate on the night, but ensured that Real Madrid made sure of the three points by finding a late goal.
Ratings of Real Madrid Substitutes
Marco Asensio: 8.5/10
Marco Asensio was the star of the show against Granada, as his introduction provided much-needed energy and flair to Real Madrid.
He looked full of confidence and provided the assist for Casemiro's opener in wonderful fashion. However, his best moment in the game came a few minutes earlier when his backheel flick from Fede Valverde's cross ricocheted off the far post.