REAL MADRID

The rebirth of Isco

A starter at Mestalla, Camp Nou, the Madrid derby and in both Spanish Super Cup games. Zidane has deposited faith in the player and Isco is responding on the pitch.

Isco, durante el Osasuna-Real Madrid.
AFP

2020 has seen the rebirth of Isco. It comes after a forgettable 2018-19 in which a dispute with Santiago Solari saw him practically disappear from Real Madrid's starting team. The return of Zinedine Zidane has meant good things for the Malagueño as the French manager has always admired the attacking midfielder's style. The start was difficult and there were doubts but the last couple of weeks have erased those concerns. Isco has been a starter in four of the last five games in LaLiga, playing 271 minutes in 2020, 60% of the total.

It's a dynamic that began at the end of 2019 when he was in the XI at Mestalla against Valencia (1-1) and at the Camp Nou against Barcelona (0-0). In the first game of 2020, the midfielder was a starter against Getafe in a game Real Madrid won 0-3. The run continued at the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia: with Isco starting against Valencia in the semi-final and the final against Atlético Madrid. Zidane has interspersed those starts with rest to ensure Isco remains at the top of his game and to give other players playing time. The 27-year-old didn't play a single minute against Athletic Bilbao or Sevilla, both home games, but was back in the starting line-up for the Madrid derby although he was subbed off at half-time.

Zidane has chosen Isco as one of the key pillars of his teams for big occasions but not a player to finish those games. He has been subbed off 12 times this season, which is more than any other player in the Madrid squad. Second on the list is Benzema, subbed nine times along with Fede Valverde. The faith shown by Zidane culminated in what was arguably his best performance of the season at El Sadar last weekend. He scored the equaliser after Osasuna had taken the lead and shone as the attacking central midfielder with Luka Modric, another player who started the season with doubts circulating about his continuity in the team. The midfielder continues to rack up positive stats: he may only have two goals in 1,068 minutes so far but he is climbing the charts and is now 13th on the list of most used players by Zidane this season. 

Isco Alarcon of Real Madrid CF

Euro 2020 with Spain remains an objective for Isco

Isco is eyeing a return to the Spain team after last appearing in June 2019 in the Spanish shirt. His physical issues at the start of the season and his problems getting back to full fitness, forced Robert Moreno to leave him out of the squad in September, October and November. But fortune has shone on the Malagueño with the return of Luis Enrique as national team coach. The Asturian has always been an Isco admirer and under Luis Enrique, he played three full games out of four in the Nations League and the only one he missed was because he was suffering from appendicitis. The list for March's internationals will clear up any doubts about Isco's future in the national team. The objective is very clear: a place in the Euro 2020 Spain squad.