REAL MADRID

James plays less under Zidane than Benítez

Under Zidane the Colombia midfielder has played 46% of available pitch time compared to 56,5% under Benítez, but may start in Anoeta.

James plays less under Zidane than Benítez
JAVIER GANDUL DIARIO AS

Zinedine Zidane has sent James Rodríguez to Real Madrid purgatory and the Colombia international now features less for the side than he did under Rafa Benítez. Zidane again left James on the bench in the match against Manchester City, the third consecutive game the midfielder had been forced to watch from the dugout, and didn’t hand him a single minute. In the previous two games, against Villarreal and Rayo, James was on the field for less than 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute.

James has been a peripheral figure in big games under the Frenchman and was left out against Barcelona in Camp Nou and in the Bernabéu when Real needed to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Wolfsburg. However, it appears increasingly likely James will get a start in Anoeta given the injury absences facing Zidane. The last time James started a match was against Getafe on April 16, when he scored and assisted another.

The contrast between this season and last could not be more marked. At this stage of the 2014-15 season James was a fixture in the starting 11, playing both legs of the Champions League semi-final against Juventus from the start and, despite missing 12 games through injury and one through suspension he ended the season as the ninth most-used player in the squad. This season, 14 players have been on the pitch longer than James and he has only started 19 of 45 games for which he has been available. Against City, Zidane chose Jesé to come on for Karim Benzema at half time. Isco was the second substitute used, coming on for Toni Kroos in the 89th minute.

James started the season on the wrong foot with Benítez. The Colombian asked that he be excused for the first leg of pre-season in China and joined up with the squad in Australia after playing for Colombia in the Copa América. Benítez told the Bernabéu board of his displeasure and under the Spaniard James only played 56.5 percent of available minutes (713 of 1,260), staring nine of 17 games and being substituted in six of those.

Under Zidane, James has played just 46 percent of the team’s game time, 911 minutes of a possible 1,980, starting 10 of 17 games.