The Welshman's injury, which will keep him sidelined for two to four weeks, and that of Marco Asensio has opened the door for the forgotten man to make a statement.
Real Madrid’s 2-2 draw against Villarreal cast fresh clouds over the Bernabéu but there is one player who will have seen a shaft of light appear after the game: Gareth Bale’s latest injury has opened the door for Isco to stake a claim for more regular playing time under Santiago Solari with the midfielder coming in from the cold in the Estadio de la Cerámica.
Isco has been relegated to the bench for most of Solari’s reign to date, and failed to make it that far in the Champions League match against Roma, playing the full 90 minutes just twice under the Argentinean in the Copa del Rey stroll against Melilla and CSKA in Europe in a game that had little consequence with Madrid already qualified for the knock-out stages.
Solari has been more inclined to use Lucas Vázquez ahead of Isco and Marco Asensio but the latter’s injury coupled with that of Bale, who is expected to be out for two to four weeks, has handed the 26-year-old playmaker a chance to work his way back into the Real boss’ plans. In Villarreal he did his case little harm with an impressive 45-minute cameo and he will have further chances with Madrid facing a glut of games in the next few weeks.
Isco's Zidane turnaround offers hope under Solari
One of the first names on the team sheet under Julen Lopetegui, Isco has failed to start a game other than the Copa and Champions League fixtures that were staffed mostly by second-stringers and had only managed more than 30 minutes once against Valladolid in Solari’s first league match in charge before last Thursday. When Real played Celta and Rayo domestically and Al Ain in the Club World Cup final, Isco observed proceedings entirely from the bench. His 45 minutes in the Cerámica made him the 16th most-used player under Solari.
Isco's appearance record under Solari
|Copa del Rey||1||1||0||90|
|Club World Cup||1||0||1||22|
Sources: Opta and Transfermarkt.
Under Zinedine Zidane, Isco suffered a similar fate. During the Frenchman’s first half season he favoured a starting XI without the Málagan midfielder but Isco’s performances for Zidane’s “B” team saw him eventually work his way into the first team and he became the undisputed 12th man, even threatening Bale’s undisputable starter status on the back of a string of excellent performances and relegating the Welshman to the bench in the back end of the 2017-18 season. Now, with Bale on the sidelines, he has the opportunity to stage another comeback under Solari.