Competition
  • Europa League

Football's goblins are with Isco

It would appear that the footballing goblins have conspired to help Isco with their mischief making. It wouldn't be odd to me, though, because he is such an attractive player, one of those who controls the ball so well, but he is going through a difficult time. A plague of injuries (fortunately nothing too serious) at the top end of the team looks to have forced the hand of Solari to finally put him into the starting line-up in this match. Or maybe not. Possibly Vinicius will be used, even if he is a little under the weather. Maybe Mariano, despite only just returning to training after quite some time out. Or there's a chance that he throws in newcomer Brahim... It reaches a point when it becomes difficult to distinguish between what is tactical thinking and personal dislike in this type of situation.

Changing man | Against Betis we may see a start for Isco.

Changing man | Against Betis we may see a start for Isco.

The beauty of Betis

The match itself is beautifully poised. Madrid sit in fifth, snapping at the heels of Alavés, who yesterday drew in Montilivi; against seventh-placed Betis, although slightly more distanced after the unexpected defeat in El Alcoraz. This is the Betis of Setién, the coach who currently occupies much of the debate around footballing style in Spain. There is no unanimity amongst the Betis fans. They like good play, but there is a lack of vigour in some areas. Games may be brewed in the midfield, but results are settled in the penalty areas, and Betis appear to prefer securing the ball to prevent attacks on their own goal rather than attacking their opponent. That being said, they have a very attractive style of play.

Joaquín, Lo Celso and Isco

That charm of collective play is accentuated by Joaquín and Lo Celso, two footballers who are a joy to watch. Joaquín may have taken his time to take his career seriously. But now that he knows there is not much time left, he is squeezing as much of the passion out it that he can and is having one of the most glorious autumns that I can remember of any footballer's career. Lo Celso is a representative of the Rosario school, the most exquisite expression of Argentine football. Good players for a top game, one that gives Benzema a chance to be the star for Madrid. And we'll have to wait and see about Isco, if Solari has been convinced by the mischievous and conspiring goblins.