The attacking midfielder’s time in Santiago Bernabeu appeared as the January window approached but he has revived his career.
It doesn’t take long to turn things around with a series of great performances, and Isco is demonstrating that in Real Madrid.
The Spaniard was one of the main scapegoats after the Blancos’ reduction to Mallorca in October. Was hauled off in the 66th minute, he wasn’t given another Liga beginning until the end of November.
Since the chilly window opened, it appeared that his time in Santiago Bernabeu was up. However, Isco has always been comfortable in the Spanish capital. He’s never wanted to leave.
Moreover, he knew that if he worked hard, Zinedine Zidane would give him another opportunity to impress.
After all, it was during the trainer’s first spell in charge that he had found his very best form, working in attacking midfield behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema during Madrid’s Liga and Champions League twice in 2016-17.
It had been under Julen Lopetegui and, especially, Santiago Solari that Isco had fallen from favour, while an accident at the beginning of this year prevented him from hitting the ground running as Zidane’s second stint at the helm actually got underway following the write-off which was the last few months of last year.
Since returning to full fitness, Isco has set his head down and got himself into Zidane’s great books. The Frenchman knows he can once again trust the Spain global, who now, more than ever before, works for the benefit of the team as opposed to trying to showcase his personal brilliance.
Isco’s new, selfless mentality was certainly evident at El Sadar on Sunday, as Madrid earned a 4-1 win to move provisionally six points clear at the top of La Liga before Real Betis sponsor Barcelona from the late kick-off.
During the opening moments, Madrid seemed to be suffering from a hangover from their shock Copa del Rey elimination at the hands of Real Sociedad, whose 4-3 win at the Bernabeu seemed to reverse all the great defensive work Sergio Ramos & Co. had achieved lately.
But, Marcelo and Nacho had played against the Basques. In Osasuna, Zidane returned to the trusted combination of Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal in full-back position.
Nonetheless, the defence still seemed a little rusty early on, as Unai Garcia headed home from a corner to break the deadlock after 14 minutes.
However, the goal only roused Actual into the side that had bulldozed their way to the peak of the table belatedly came out to perform with.
It was Isco who finally levelled the match 33 minutes in, volleying home after Bale had forced the ball into his path.
Isco plays wiser, smarter than he did earlier. Perhaps that means he doesn’t have to dazzle as much, but he’s harnessing his abilities to better effect, using them in the ideal time, and intentionally, rather than working as an unrestrained box of tricks.
Madrid skipper Ramos put his side ahead before the break, heading home from close range after Casemiro’s attempt came his way.
Needless to say, Osasuna will assert Ramos should have seen red ahead, when his studs discovered Ruben Garcia’s Achilles earlier in the match, so it was no surprise to find that the defender then goes up the other end of the field to score.
Die!” But he lives of these provocations.
In any case, it would be erroneous to blame Madrid’s win to bad officiating or great fortune.
The players are all brimming with a view today, even Luka Jovic, who, after Lucas Vazquez had made it 3-1, rounded off the scoring with a surprisingly confident finish for a forward that has fought so badly for goals since joining from Eintracht Frankfurt last summer.
Zidane’s new Madrid isn’t a group of people, but a group, working together for the same aim.