Every so often, Isco will turn in a performance that makes you wonder why he doesn’t start every single match for Real Madrid. The playmaker has been on the peripheries of Zinedine Zidane’s first team this season, frequently dropping out of the side for the bigger games against the bigger teams, but in terms of pure talent, Isco is among the best the capital club has.
Against his former club and hometown team Malaga on Sunday night, the 25-year-old provided a demonstration of his ability. He opened the scoring with a stunning freekick from 20 yards, holding his hands in apology to the crowd as a way of celebration. He pulled the strings for Real Madrid throughout, pushing his side towards three points with both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo rested.
It was an illustration of just how good Isco can be. And yet, there are still some who harbour doubts over his long term future at the Santiago Bernabeu. Ever so often, almost with clockwork regularity, speculation swirls that the playmaker could leave Real Madrid, with Arsenal and Manchester City always linked. This has become the pattern of the last few years for Isco.
But in recent weeks, he has hit a vein of form. It started with his performance against Juventus in the first leg of Real Madrid’s Champions League quarter final. Isco, it was reported, was vying for the same place in the starting lineup alongside Bale and Marco Asensio. Many expected Bale to be picked, given that he had been on a scoring run at the time. Instead, it was Isco who was favoured by Zidane.
In Turin, Isco was crucial in controlling the game for Real Madrid. Zidane recognised that the 25-year-old would give his side the edge in midfield. While Ronaldo might have grabbed the headlines with his sensational overhead kick, and understandably so, Isco was just as central to the win over the Serie A giants.
He could perform a similar role against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi finals. The Bavarians aren’t too dissimilar, in terms of style, from Juventus, in that they have the players to cause problems on the rapid attack. Isco would counter this and protect Real Madrid against the threats of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and the rest. Zidane, just as he did in Turin, will want his team to control the contest, otherwise things could get away from Real Madrid.
Isco has endured a mixed season up until this point. For Spain, he is a key figure. He is expected to be one of the stars on show at this summer’s World Cup, but at club level there is an inconsistency to his brilliance. But he might have found form at the right time.
Everything is pinned on the Champions League for Real Madrid at this stage of the season. It’s been that way since the turn of the year, with Zidane rotating and resting his squad with Europe in mind. A number of players have stepped up to the mark, but few as significantly as Isco. He could salvage this season for Real.
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