Real Madrid: Zidane's Isco plan
Despite the competition that now exists in the midfield, where the Valverde-Casemiro pairing has become indisputable, Zidane still refuses to give up on Isco's magic.
When Zinedine Zidane had accepted Florentino Perez’ challenge to return to the Real Madrid bench, the club was going from fire to fire, with the Isco situation being one of the most delicate that needed to be extinguished.
The Malaga-born player had been ostracized by Santiago Solari. Things started to sour between the pair following a disagreement after Eibar. And the rocky relationship came to a head when Solari sanctioned Isco for skipping the team coach trip to the Santiago Bernabéu for the clash with Ajax. His decision to head to the stadium alone in his car was his angry reaction to being left out of the squad for the match that Madrid went on to lose 4-1, consigning Solari’s fate.
“Isco wants to play, he has the desire… so the sanction, it’s nothing," Zidane stated in his first pre-match conference following his return ahead of the visit of Celta Vigo. His words served as a kind-of pardon and also a declaration of his intentions with a player who had been so important to him during his first tenure.
However, the start of this campaign has shown that the Ajax bus incident marked a change of Isco's path at Madrid and also with Spain, where he has been left out Roberto Moreno’s squad on the last three consecutive occasions.
Zidane refuses to give up on Isco’s magic
With regard to Zidane, the French coach has devised a plan to try to get Isco back to his best but just at a time when that is proving to be more difficult. The Spaniard finds himself vying with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric for the third place in midfield, where the Valverde-Casemiro pairing has become indisputable. Still, Zidane refuses to give up on Isco’s magic.
The minutes Zidane gave him in the match against Eibar, with the game wrapped up, was the best sign that the manager wants to gradually re-introduce him into the dynamics of the team.
Contrary to the situation with Mariano, Vinicius, Odriozola and Brahim, Isco has always been in the squad when he has been fit. In Zidane's opinion, that Malaga-born midfielder perform wells in the centre of the field, where he can integrate well with the physical Casemiro-Valverde pairing.
“More liberated from defensive tasks, we will see the true player,” were Zidane’s reassuring words.
In the program developed by Zidane, a lot of importance has been given to the schedule that remains between now and the Christmas break, during which his side have all-important meetings with Valencia, Athletic Bilbao, two Champions League ties against Bruges and PSG and the Clásico at Camp Nou. And it’s during this period the Madrid coach expects Isco to hit the ground running.