Record-breaking Isco sends memo to Zidane
The midfielder set several records with his hat trick against Argentina. He is Spain's second top scorer under Lopetegui but not a first choice at Real Madrid.
Isco made history with his hat trick in last night's 6-1 friendly win against Argentina - in the first international game to be played at the Wanda Metropolitano. On a personal level, it was his first hat trick as a professional; he also becomes the first Spain player in history to score three past a World Cup-winning nation. Underlining how Isco's treble against the Albiceleste was no small feat - prior to Tuesday night's accomplishment, only six players have managed to score a hat trick against Argentina: José Piendiberne (Uruguay), Pelé (Brazil), Safet Sušić (Yugoslavia), Joaquín Botero (Bolivia), Rivaldo (Brazil) and Ronaldo (Brazil).
Midfielders to score hat tricks with Spain
He is one of the few midfield players to have netted a hat trick with La Roja; until now, only three players had previously done it, and none of them against such high-ranking opposition - Míchel (against Korea Republic in 1990), Guerrero (against Malta and Cyprus in 1996 and 1999 respectively) and Luis Enrique (against San Marino in 1999).
Before Julen Lopetegui took over as national team coach, Isco had only found the net once (against Belarus) and hadn't even chalked one single assist. Since then, everything has changed. He has racked up a total of 679 minutes playing time, and scored nine goals - averaging a goal every 75.44 minutes. To put that into context, he has better figures than two of Spain's leading strikers Álvaro Morata (61.1) and Iago Aspas (72.3). Added to which he has also two assists (against Macedonia and Albania).
Message to Zidane
With nine goals under his belt, he is second only to Manchester City's David Silva who, with 11, is the top scorer in the Lopetegui era. The Spain coach has given him the kind of prominent role he lacks at Real Madrid, as Isco himself admitted after the game: "When a player isn't getting recognition or regular playing time at their club, being with the national team gives breathes life into them. Lopetegui has shown faith in me by giving me minutes, full matches... At Madrid I don't have the kind of confidence which every footballer needs. Maybe the problem is me, I haven't been able to win him over with the great players there are in the squad. I want to show him (Zidane) what I am capable of".
Isco's figures with Real Madrid pale in comparison with those he has recorded with Spain. He is averaging a goal every 348.43 minutes (four times what he is doing under Lopetegui) and the same can be said about his assists - he has made six assists for Madrid so far this season.
Maybe it's just by sheer chance or perhaps Zidane just cannot find room for him at Madrid where he is the 11th player to have played the most minutes: 2,439 - not a very encouraging number when you consider that Bale and Benzema, who have been in and out of the team with injuries, remain first choice under the French coach.