Real Madrid would spend Christmas sitting second in the La Liga Points Table sharing equal points with the leaders Atletico Madrid. The Los Blancos earned full points in the match against Granada, which Zidane thought was a very tough contest.
Benzema has the Pichichi in his sights. His goal against Granada on Wednesday moved him to the top of the goal-scoring charts in La Liga Santander alongside Iago Aspas and Gerard Moreno.
All three players have scored eight goals this season but Benzema is the only one of the three who doesn’t take penalties for his team.
Benzema may be keeping up his good scoring numbers for Real Madrid, but he needs help as his team hasn’t been scoring too many goals this season.
It’s just 27 goals from 15 La Liga Santander matches.
Casemiro is doing his part, though.
The Brazilian opened the scoring against Granada at the moment when it was looking especially tough for Los Blancos.
The midfielder now has four goals in total this season, with only Benzema – who has 12 – ahead of him.
In addition to the two aforementioned goals, Casemiro also came up with the crucial equalizer in the 2-2 draw away at Borussia Monchengladbach. That was a goal that kickstarted Real Madrid’s Champions League resurgence and qualification as group winners.
Only his goal in the 2-1 defeat to Alaves failed to earn Real Madrid a point.
Even as he gets older, Casemiro remains vitally important for Zidane. Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, and Fede Valverde are also getting minutes in midfield and have also been coming up with goals this season, but nobody can do that in addition to providing the defensive solidity that Casemiro offers.
Against Granada, he even dropped so deep at times as to be between the two center-backs, helping out at one end of the pitch and scoring at the other.
The bright spot from last night’s contest was Marco Asensio.
Zidane had given Asensio opportunities to shine earlier in the campaign, but with the team experiencing such a bad run of form the Mallorca native found himself out of favour as his coach sought a formula to reverse their slide – which he successfully managed to do by rotating less.
With no goal or assist in 19 games, Asensio was under criticism.
But, with his excellent back-post cross that Casemiro headed home in the 57th minute, Asensio ended his barren run.
He made contributions outside of this too, hitting the post with an improvised flick shortly before his assist and setting up Valverde, who could only see his effort saved by Rui Silva.
From then on Asensio looked confident and continued to threaten the backline of Granada.
With Rodrygo now on the treatment table and with Eden Hazard regularly out of the side because of his own fitness issues, it’s a good moment for Zidane to have a fit and firing Asensio in the side.
“It was such a tricky game. It was a f***ing tough game and that’s how it was for us. They came to press the ball,” said Zidane after the match.
“The first half was difficult and the second was much better. I’m really happy for [my players] because these games aren’t easy. We deserved the win with the second-half display.”
“The players have kept working and preparing for all the games,” he added.
“It’s what they have to do. We’re going to lose games. It’s inevitable every now and then. I’m happy for the players because they’ve put up with the criticism.”
We know that [Casemiro] gets forward,” Zidane said. “Defensively, we know what he can do. He brings us a lot but attacking-wise too.
About Casemiro Zidane said, “It was a great goal. We know he’s good with his head, like Sergio [Ramos] and Rafa [Varane].”
“The success is everyones. The three midfielders do a great job, but the credit goes to the team. But it’s true that they’re getting more goals.”
Eden Hazard was on the bench for the first time since his return from his latest injury, with Zidane opting not to play him in the end.
“I didn’t think it was appropriate to play him. It was a tough game,” Zidane explained.
“I didn’t want to risk Eden. He’s fine, but we’re going step by step.”