Can Isco be Real Madrid’s plan B for the rest of the season?

Real Madrid, Isco (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Isco (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid has employed basically the same tactics and formation since the game vs. Sevilla back in December. While this has worked for most of the time, there have been a few occasions where the team has struggled and has been in desperate need of change.

Zinedine Zidane has stuck with his favorite 4-3-3 for a long time now, with only injuries and suspension forcing a switch to a three at the back formation for the match vs. Getafe. Only against Atalanta did Zidane switch formations for tactical reasons and use Elche as a dress rehearsal for the change.  The 4-3-3 formation has done well so far, thanks to the magnificent form of Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos, but the question arises, how long can Madrid ride on the two maestros’ brilliance?

Real Madrid’s struggles against weaker sides this season, in particular teams who sit back and defend compact are well known. With more than half of the season already over, Zidane still hasn’t found a way to solve the teams’ attacking issues. While this can be put down to how mediocre Real Madrid’s attackers are, except for Karim Benzema, questions have to be asked of Zidane too for failing to integrate players like Martin Ødegaard and Luka Jovic.

Theoretically, these are players that could have solved some of Madrid’s issues, especially Ødegaard who would have been great against tight defenses. But both players have left the club on loan due to the lack of playing time.

Isco gives Real Madrid additional tactical flexibility

Zidane this season has also failed to use his squad to its maximum potential. At times, it has been due to the insane number of injuries the team has faced, with at times only Castilla players available on the bench, but there have been occasions where he has had options available on the bench and yet failed to use them.

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This, in particular, has been surprising since rotations and tactical switches are Zidane’s forte. So many times over the past seasons, Zidane has depended heavily on rotations to keep the team fresh and firing for the final part of the season.

Even tactically, in the past Madridistas have been used to seeing surprises from the manager which help the team dominate teams either from the start or at halftime to bring the game home for Madrid. His switch from the diamond to the flat 4-4-2 helped Madrid take out PSG, even without a fully fit Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the 2017-18 season.

His use of the five midfielders set-up to outplay Valencia in the Spanish Super Cup last season is also another example of his tactical flexibility using different formations. This season he has experimented far less and accordingly, opponents have been able to predict how the team would play and have been able to stifle them.

The three at the back in the second leg vs. Atalanta is further proof that switching up formations helps Real Madrid throw off their opponents and dominate games. Zidane’s switch worked perfectly and helped the team nullify Atalanta’s game plan. Tactically, it was a brilliant scheme from Zidane and something we have come to expect from the Frenchman but have seen far less this season.

But with potential game-changers in the form of Jovic and Ødegaard having left on loan, Zidane has only a few options left on the bench to make tactical switches like these in-game. One option he does have, though, is to help Isco get back to his best form.

Isco has been in and out of the team for more than two years now. While there have been occasions where Isco has not looked good, his ability and talent are unquestionable. His performances vs. PSG and Manchester City last season and vs. Atalanta in the first leg show that there’s still a good player in there.

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And while he may not solve Real Madrid’s goalscoring issues, he offers another tactical option to the team via the use of diamond formation. There’s a very good chance that a run of games will help him get back to his best. At his best, Isco is a wonderful player to have. His ability to glide past players and create havoc is something the team lacks right now. The only other players who offer that on the team are Eden Hazard and Vinicius Jr. Hazard is injured and Vinicius has been blowing hot and cold so far, so giving Isco a chance might just be worth it.

Keeping in mind the current lack of options the team has to switch things up, Isco can definitely be the player to help the team out until reinforcements arrive in the summer. It will be up to the player to grab any opportunity he gets with both hands to prove himself valuable.