Real Madrid will be aiming to end their year in style and continue their recent renaissance when they host Granada in their penultimate match of 2020.
After the doom and gloom of the Autumn, Zinedine Zidane’s side have turned things around emphatically, winning their last four matches domestically and their last five in all competitions.
In fact, Real have taken maximum 15 points since they were defeated 2-0 away at Shakhtar Donetsk on December 12, the loss that represented the nadir of their miserable run.
Since then, they’ve conceded just two goals in five matches, with Sevilla, Borussia Monchengladbach, Atletico Madric, Athletic Bilbao and Eibar all being put to the sword during an impressive December.
They head into their midweek fixtures level on points with Atletico, although they’ve played two games fewer than their city rivals and have an inferior goal difference.
The pressure may well be on Real when they host Granada, as Los Merengues could have fallen three points behind Atletico when they host Real Sociedad on Tuesday.
At the weekend, Real excelled away at Eibar, running out 3-1 winners with Karim Benzema in imperious form.
The France striker opened the scoring after six minutes—following fine work from Rodrygo—and contributed two further assists, setting up Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez to add to Real’s lead.
With Sergio Ramos back in defence alongside Raphael Varane, Real are notably more confident at the back, with Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal representing reliable options at full-back.
With Casemiro back from suspension, he took his place alongside Modric and the influential Toni Kroos, while Vazquez and Rodrygo enjoyed two of their strongest performances of the season flanking the lethal Benzema.
Zidane will be hoping to welcome back some of his other attacking options for the visit of Granada; Vinicius may step into the side—on the left flank—as the French coach rotates his options, while he also may include Fede Valverde as Real look to negotiate the festive period.
Valverde stepped in when Casemiro was out, and looks likely to replace Modric, who missed training on Monday after developing a muscle problem in his left leg.
The Croatia midfielder will undergo tests on Tuesday to ascertain the seriousness of the injury, and he’ll be sorely missed should he—as expected—miss out, having played a key role in Real’s recent winning streak.
Los Blancos could also welcome back Eden Hazard—at least for a place on the bench—as the Belgium superstar looks to put his latest injury misery behind him.
Things haven’t worked out for the ex-Chelsea playmaker since his arrival from the Premier League for an eye-watering fee, and Zidane must manage his fitness cautiously—easing him back into a successful side will help—as the attacking midfielder looks to get back to his best.
A fully fit Hazard would represent a major boost for Real as they look to retain their title, as the former LOSC Lille hero could be the protagonist in a strong start to 2021—if he stays fit!
Isco remains doubtful for the Granada game, while Granada have plenty of problems of their own.
Key midfielder Maxime Gonalons is out with suspension, which could open the door to Ramon Azeez or Yan Brice Eteki, while the likes of Neyder Lozano and Angel Montoro are also absent.
Victor Diaz, Fede Vico and Darwin Machis are all doubtful for the visitors.
Real are overwhelming favourites to take all three points, despite Granda’s strong start to the season.
Los Blancos won the last meeting between these two—five months ago—to extend their winning run in this fixture to 10 matches. On average, they have scored 3.4 goals per match across this run, so expect goals when the Nasrids come to the capital on Wednesday.
Granada have never won at the Bernabeu, and it would represent a major surprise should Diego Martinez be able to take maximum points in a fixture where even a draw would represent an exceptional result.
Benzema appears primed to be key once again; he has a terrific record against Granada—having scored 12 in his last 14 matches against the visitors.
He’s scored eight and contributed two assists in his last home matches against the Rojiblancos, and will be looking to punish them again.