Real Madrid were 2-1 up vs Osasuna when Carlo Ancelotti decided to give Isco a run out on the pitch, hours before his 30th birthday. Real Madrid were finally using their rotation players, so we saw bulky minutes from Dani Ceballos (!), Fede Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, and Rodrygo Goes on the left wing. (!!) We also saw Marco Asensio play as well. He wasn’t bad, wasn’t great, and scored a decent goal.
Back to Isco, he had 23 touches in 17 minutes, had an interception, a shot-creating action, one key pass, two passes into the attacking third, and was tidy in possession whenever he got the ball.
The Spaniard, who has now turned 30, had one magical moment in those 17 minutes which inspired me to write about him on his birthday. He receives the ball, under pressure from Osasuna’s players. He immediately does a beautiful turn with the ball and sets himself free, before launching a beautiful through ball to Vinicius Junior, whose shot goes just wide. Isco showed all the fans of Osasuna that were trolling him, that he is still capable of performing well.
I’m not saying that just because of that one moment, Isco deserves to play more football in his final year at Real Madrid. The truth is, yes, he’s had his fitness issues, but Isco is still more than capable of performing well, which would let the star players get some rest. He’s still good enough to be a squad rotation player at Real Madrid.
Isco is more than capable of getting the ball to the wings like Toni Kroos, he’s still crafty with the ball at his feet, and he is a born winner that will do well more often than not. He knows what it’s like to play at Real Madrid, and is much more proven than, say Dani Ceballos. Of course, Isco has his drawbacks. He’s not a starter, he probably never would be a starter at the top level again, but he can be counted upon to get the job done, and is also a good player to bring off the bench, as we saw on Wednesday night.
So, the question is, why does Isco not get those minutes? Maybe it’s because of something we don’t see. Something happening in training, something between Ancelotti and Isco. We wouldn’t know that, but if we’re talking strictly in terms of quality, I feel Isco is a good role player, and should be used far more than he currently is so that the starters can get the rest they need for the two big games. I’d even put him in the starting XI for the game vs Espanyol, considering Real play Manchester City and Atletico Madrid in the six days after that.
Isco had a fantastic run with Real Madrid, which no one will ever forget
Talking about Isco’s career entirely, as it is a special occasion, I feel like the criticism that he has received in his last few seasons doesn’t do his overall time at Real Madrid any good. We’ve known that Isco will leave the club at the end of his contract, and that will for sure happen once the season is over, but these bad seasons don’t really have to take the spotlight away from the player as a whole.
Isco had a few really good seasons at Real Madrid. Even though he wasn’t able to become a full-fledged starter for a long duration, I still respect Isco a lot for what he gave to Real Madrid. His first season at Madrid was a success. He was competing with James Rodriguez for the starting spot in the next two seasons, and he provided good value to the team every time he stepped on the pitch.
Isco had an awesome 2016-17 season, in fact, it was so good that you could call him a top ten player in the world at that point in time. He was that good, and he backed it up. Next season, the Spaniard was good again, although the teams figured out how to stop Zidane’s diamond formation from succeeding. Isco had a decent start to the 2018-19 season under Julen Lopetegui, but that was never going to work out, and from there, his decline started.
Nevertheless, Isco deserves a proper goodbye, a send-off, a farewell from Real Madrid, where he spent his prime years, and managed to form with the KCM trio an incredible midfield partnership, something that, at its peak, was probably Real Madrid’s best midfield of all time. He won countless trophies, contributed to a large chunk of them, and it is time we respect his legacy, and give him the send-off that he deserves.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Real Champs team!
I will miss Isco when he inevitably leaves the club at the end of the season. And I hope he’s able to find at his next destination what he has been missing at Real Madrid for the last few seasons.