ROMA-REAL MADRID

Isco to return to Real Madrid line-up against Roma

Zinedine Zidane named him on the bench for the win over Athletic in a bid to keep him fresh for the Champions League on Wednesday.

Isco to return to Real Madrid line-up against Roma
DANI SANCHEZ

Isco is set to return to the Real Madrid starting line-up for their Champions League last-16 first leg away at Serie A outfit Roma this midweek.

The midfielder was among the substitutes for Los Blancos' 4-2 win over Athletic Club on Saturday, coming on for the final 19 minutes of the La Liga encounter at the Santiago Bernabéu.

But despite Mateo Kovacic performing well in his place, boss Zinedine Zidane left the Andalusian out of the eleven as part of a plan to give the player a rest and ensure that he is fresh for Wednesday's crunch clash - and is to restore him to the team in the Italian capital.

Isco is set to start in Rome on Wednesday.

Isco has enjoyed a prominent role under Zidane since his coach's appointment in early January, starting five out of six matches, featuring in 74% of the minutes played by Real and establishing himself as a midfield fixture alongside Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.

The 23-year-old has always been a firm favourite of Zidane's, with the Frenchman declaring in early 2015: "Isco is a lot like me".

Indeed, 'Zizou' has so far preferred the Spaniard over James Rodríguez in the two games (against Deportivo La Coruña and Sporting Gijón) he has had the 'BBC' forward trio of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo available.

Under predecessors Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benítez, on the other hand, Isco normally found himself relegated to the bench when Real had a full attacking complement to choose from.