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Luka Modric's late thunderbolt tops Granada, keeps Madrid in title race

Luka Modric
Luka Modric's late thunderbolt secured Real Madrid all three points at Granada.

Three points from Real Madrid's late 2-1 win over Granada at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes on Sunday.

1. Modric keeps Madrid in the title race

Luka Modric's late piledriver got Real Madrid a 2-1 win in Sunday's late game and just about kept his side in the La Liga title race. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane called this game a "must win" on Saturday, and his team's need became even greater with title rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both winning earlier this weekend.

Zidane's fellow Frenchman,...

 By Rob Train

Real Madrid slip-up at Granada would raise Zidane questions

The ESPN FC crew discusses whether or not Neymar will eclipse Cristiano Ronaldo and become a better footballer.

The only blemish on Zinedine Zidane's record as Real Madrid manager to date came in his third match in charge, when the side visited the Benito Villamarin and surrendered two points to a Betis team battling at the other end of the table. At home, Zidane's Real have been ruthlessly efficient, scoring 16 and conceding just once. But few would claim the opposition has been of the highest caliber, and certainly previous manager Rafa Benitez would have looked at the fixture list Zidane inherited with...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Expect Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to score on Sunday - projection

Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo is the modern game's greatest individual rivalry.

Current goals total in La Liga: Ronaldo 19-12 Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick last weekend saw him increase his league goals lead over Lionel Messi to seven and both men are tipped to continue their good form this weekend, according to ESPN's projection model.

Messi is in action first when Barcelona visit Levante on Sunday. Later the same day, Ronaldo and Real Madrid are at Granada.

(Numbers for each player are based on him starting the game.)

Messi Ronaldo weekend 20160205
Last season, Messi netted once at Levante and Ronaldo did likewise at Granada.

2015-16 total goals projection

Ronaldo...

 By Rob Train

Zidane infusing Real Madrid with competitive streak of his playing days

FC TV debates whether Zidane's qualities as a player will help him succeed as Real Madrid manager.

Zinedine Zidane the player is remembered for his sublime ball control, ferocious shot and his balance, the ability to drop a shoulder and lose three defenders. But what is often overlooked is the France legend's competitive streak. Fans of Serie A in the 1990s may remember more than a YouTube reel can display. Zidane was as happy to get stuck in as the next man -- and at Juventus the next man was often Alessio Tacchinardi or Edgar Davids, no shrinking violets -- at every club he represented. 

Rarely...

Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo: A statistical look at the birthday boys

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 343 goals in less than seven seasons for Real Madrid.

Two of world soccer's most popular stars share birthdays today. Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo turns 31 and Barcelona's Neymar turns 24. Ronaldo has cemented his name into many record books while Neymar is well on his way to doing the same.

Here are some notes on the birthday boys:

- Ronaldo surpassed the 500-goal plateau for his career earlier this season. 343 of his 518 goals have come in a Real Madrid jersey as it took Ronaldo less than seven full seasons to become club's all-time top scorer....

Marcelo and Isco prosper at Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane

With Luka Modric describing new boss Zinedine Zidane as his 'idol', ESPN FC's Craig Burley questions whether great players make great managers.

On the 90th minute of Real Madrid's 6-0 thrashing of Espanyol last Sunday, Marcelo touched the ball for one last time, a sideways pass to Cristiano Ronaldo. It was the 114th time that the Brazilian enjoyed possession of the ball in the game, and the 70th he did in the opposition's half.

That would sound like a reasonable number for an offensive midfielder in a home game, but for a left full-back?

One of the few players who, under former coach Rafael Benitez, managed to play more often like an accurate...