Real Madrid: Isco’s world-class traits were shining through

After a 2018-2019 season to forget, Real Madrid attacking midfielder Isco showed the same traits that once made him one of the most prized players in La Liga.

At first, it seemed like Real Madrid center attacking midfielder Isco would have another season to forget at the Santiago Bernabeu. He looked sluggish and unthreatening in attack, perhaps labored by injuries and fitness issues.

But it didn’t take long for the 27-year-old to turn things around, reminding Madridistas why he was once one of the most highly-regarded No. 10’s in world football.

Although Isco didn’t reach the heights of his special 2016-2017 season, by March of the 2019-2020 campaign, the attacking midfielder returned to being one of the most important players in the lineup.

Isco’s resurgence came at a particularly important point in time for Real Madrid, too, as Eden Hazard had suffered a second serious injury and James Rodriguez was still struggling for fitness. So it was Isco leading the way in the attacking midfield, showing off his versatility as a difference-maker on the left and right wings as well.

It was in late November against PSG when Isco first started playing great football again as a wide player, and he made an impact in December against big clubs like Barcelona. Isco was the best player on the pitch against Real’s bitter rivals, lighting up the Camp Nou with three dribbles completed, two fouls drawn, and a pair of key passes, according to WhoScored.com.

But Isco saved his best football for February and March. He steered a 4-1 comeback victory against Osasuna by dominating the midfield, nearly scored two banging goals as the best player on the pitch in the second Clasico, and was one of the only bright spots in a tough loss to Levante. Even in the loss to Manchester City, Isco was a positive, impressing Pep Guardiola with his lively dribbling.

In 2019-2020, Isco took Zinedine Zidane‘s trust and ran with it. He became a key part of the Real Madrid starting XI, showing an ability to thrive at numerous positions and in different formations. His clever touches, ability to draw fouls, slick dribbling skills, curled shots from outside the box, and incisive passing all came to the forefront by the end of the season.

Those are the world-class traits Isco has. His positional awareness, tactical astuteness, technical quality, goal-scoring ability, and creative passing can make him one of the best No. 10’s in the world, which is a status he once held a few years ago as a special player on a special team with Zidane as his manager.

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Isco is still in the prime of his career athletically, and only injury concerns can hold him back. Despite some worries, the Spain international reminded Madridistas that his quality is still there, and, heading into 2020-2021, those world-class traits could shine over the course of a full season.