Isco back to his old self

Following on from a good performance against one of Europe’s top sides at the Bernabéu on Tuesday, Real Madrid put in another fine display at Mendizorroza yesterday, in quite different conditions. Zidane’s team were pitted against a solid, well organised Alavés, and if that wasn’t enough, they had heavy rainfall to contend with as well... "Games like this win league titles ", Marcelo noted immediately afterwards, and I think everyone would agree with that. As it stands, Madrid top the table pending what happens later tonight in the top billing clash at the Metropolitano. They won the game and from what we saw, it’s clear that Isco has fully recovered and is back to his old self again. Physically and in terms of spirit and of his game, the great Isco we seen so many times for Madrid is back.

Isco in action against Alavés

Zidane's rotation policy

Zidane’s virtue isn’t just getting a rusty team back on its feet, but also his man-management of a high number of players. Some time ago I read that the most difficult task that coaches face is keeping 11 players happy – the 11 who don’t get to play, because the other 11, the ones who do play, don’t need cheering up. Zidane has almost the whole squad committed and in form, judging from what we’ve seen when he rotates the team. Mariano Díaz doesn’t feature in Zizou’s plans and he seems to have reservations about Odriozola and Vinicius but he clearly counts on the rest and knows when they will come in useful.

Alavés penalty appeal turned down

It was a fiercely-contested game, the kind you often see up north. There were no intricate moves or flashes of skill but everyone on the pitch worked hard. The only apathy I saw from Madrid was, of course, from Gareth Bale, who prefers the more luxurious, high profile games to ones where you need to grind out a result – ones which are difference between winning or losing the league. And Alavés were equally as rigorous as their guests, to the point where they won five corners in a row towards the end of the match. It was an old-style, classic clash which was only marred by some clumsy refereeing – calling on VAR to review a penalty appeal for a foul on Aleix Vidal, and then getting overinvolved with the ensuing protests - which only wasted more time. We still haven’t quite got the hang on this new technology…