Real Madrid: 5 burning questions after horrid loss to Valencia

Real Madrid (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Isco
Real Madrid, Isco (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images) /

Does Isco have a place in the Real Madrid lineup?

Quietly, Isco had a strong second half of the 2019-2020 season for Real Madrid. The Andalusian midfielder started things off with a big showing in the Supercup against Valencia and then progressed to weathering the storm in Pamplona before delivering a big performance in El Clasico. And over the summer, he was solid, including creating two goals in the last game of the season at Butarque against Leganes.

Isco had one great performance off the bench in 2020-2021 in a 3-2 win over Real Betis at the Benito Villamarin, turning the tide in the second half for Los Merengues. But beyond that, Isco has done a whole lot of nothing.

He got a rare start against Valencia amidst rumors of a future transfer, and he was invisible. Now, Isco gets unfairly scapegoated a lot and gets blamed for being a bigger problem than he is. He was not even close to one of the biggest problems against Valencia; I must make that clear.

But Isco was poor. In the context of the 2020-2021 season and the future outlook of the squad, that’s a big deal for Isco, because each poor performance is one more reason for Los Blancos to move on.

Is Luka Modric the key to making up for Casemiro?

There is nobody on Real Madrid who can replace Casemiro. Los Blancos didn’t want to make any signings this summer in order to save up for Kylian Mbappe next year, but they really should have invested in a cheap defensive midfielder, such as current Bayern Munich backup Marc Roca (signed from recently-demoted Espanyol).

Casemiro couldn’t play at the Mestalla due to COVID-19, so this was a chance for Zinedine Zidane to see if a midfield trio of Isco, Luka Modric, and Fede Valverde could get the job done. And of that group, Modric and Fede were obviously the ones doing most of the defending.

They were two of the best players on the pitch for Real, especially Modric. The Croatian superstar had three tackles and an interception with two key passes and two dribbles completed.

We know Modric can play in a deeper-lying role as a ball-carrier who can make plays and defend. At this age, there are questions about Modric’s energy in defense, but he’s shown no signs of slowing down.

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Playing Modric as a defensive midfielder isn’t a solution, but using him in a double-pivot or in a deeper role to make up for Casemiro can work in certain matches. It probably would have against Valencia if the defense behind him wasn’t so shaky.