It'll take a long time to for the memory of this match from Isco to fade (Sporting Gijón 2-3 Real Madrid). Not just for his goals, which were glorious and decisive, but for his involvement, insistence, sparkling football, courage and his game-changin capability. He outshone his teammates; he was bigger than the game itself. You could say about Madrid in this match what used to be said about Athletic in the glory years of Iribar, when the rest of the team were in decline: "Iribar and ten others". Here Madrid were Isco and ten others. This time Zidane's 'B' team, so praised after their games against Eibar and Leganés, which they won handily, were less convincing. They came out thinking they had the match won and nearly ended up paying for it. Praise can go to your head. Isco saved them.
Isco's first, glorious, goal
The first goal was a wonder, a manoeuvre in the the box with a first shimmie including a drag back and a second, a more simple dribble, but with utter awareness and domination of the ball and the distance and movement of the defender, before gently curling the ball home with his left 'weaker' foot. The other was more of a typical Isco goal, a low rasping shot from in front of goal, with that movement of pulling back his ankle as he hits it to send the keeper the wrong way, he expected it to go to the far post, Isco slotted it home just inside the near upright. Unstoppable. And in time added on, with utter drama to boot, and after 90 minutes, running and controlling the match.
What next for Isco?
It feels wrong that Isco doesn't play more. It's true that it's tough to get a berth at Real Madrid, but not for everyone. Bale plays no matter what form he's in. Benzema, he's admitted it himself, was playing five kilos overweight. If only one of those two were to play up front with Cristiano Ronaldo there'd be room for one more, and Isco deserves it. Just as he deserves to play more in the Champions League, where James gets the nod ahead of him because he was so expensive and needs to be shown off on the big stage. I'd understand it if Isco felt defrauded. He's worked hard to improve his physique and his performances. He was outstanding against Sporting Gijón. But, now what?