Those happy days when Madrid’s reserve team, which gave Zidane the luxury of being able to rotate his team at key moments, now seem a distant memory. That team resolved countless league games, with high-scoring, comfortable wins - Kiko Casilla; Danilo, Pepe, Nacho, Coentrão; Isco, Kovacic, James; Lucas Vázquez, Morata and Asensio. It was a great group of players who afforded the coach the chance to rest first-choice players either partially or completely. But Florentino got caught up in revamping the stadium, reducing the wages bill and now, as Javier Aznar has noted elsewhere in today’s edition of AS, the squad is divided into two sections – those who always play and those who never play. And among the latter, there are some who are either on their way out or who have already left - Jovic has returned to Frankfurt and Ødegaard wants to go back to Donosti.
Jovic on target twice in Eintracht debut
Both cases lend weight to the voices opposing Zidane, which don't require very much to surface. Jovic’s success on his return to Germany, with two goals in his first game back, makes it easy to portray him as a player who has been misunderstood rather than a misjudged signing. But playing for Eintracht is not the same as playing for Real Madrid. Here, somehow he felt incapable of delivering, that slowly turned into a complex - and on top of that, he hasn't exactly looked after himself. He has got himself mixed up in trouble on numerous occasions in a short space of time. Zidane gave him a chance ahead of Mariano, but it didn’t work out for him. Like many of the reserves, he just didn’t make the grade. Let’s not forget that, not so long ago the second-choice striker was Morata.
Odegaard pining for Real Sociedad return
Now Ødegaard wants to go back to Real Sociedad. A similar case. Illarramendi and Odriozola were important figures at La Real but foundered at Madrid. Of course, it could be argued that he has been given less chances than anyone else because he was already behind Isco in the pecking order, and Isco hasn’t been performing well enough to earn his place. Anyway, if Jovic and Ødegaard play well on loan elsewhere, their experiences will be used as arguments against Zidane, who is ever more reliant on ‘those who always play’ - over time that has left both players feeling bored and fuelled their desire to leave. Later tonight, it will the chance for ‘those that never play’ to be given a turn in Alcoy – the second string. It can’t be very pleasant for them but seeing how things are, the best way for them to rebel is by playing well.