On Sunday a Real Madrid side without talisman Cristiano Ronaldo and pacy forward Gareth Bale took the field against Malaga. In the absence of Ronaldo, the team showed a different tempo and character of their football as they relied on patient build up play, passing to hand Malaga a 2-1 defeat. Madrid midfielder Isco Alarcon, who not long ago had fell out of favour with coach Zinedine Zidane was at the heart of things in this new look Madrid.
The midfielder had recently struck a hattrick against Argentina while playing for Spain but Real fans have often wondered why the same Isco does not show up for their side. Isco commented in a post-match interview after the Argentina game that his coach Zinedine Zidane does not have faith in him.
Isco’s questions are being answered as he starred in three of Madrid’s last four matches in Champions League and La Liga. He graced the field with his versatility and in his presence, Madrid managed to find key answers of their own. Madrid midfield needs a deep playmaker – a role usually filled by Luca Modric. Upfront they need a winger or a forward capable of running at defenders and taking the play to the box – something that Cristiano Ronaldo handles well.
On Sunday, Isco fulfilled both those roles as he linked play deep on the right-hand side before appearing close to the box to complete plays. He scored Real’s opener with a delicious free-kick and then assisted Casemiro with a deft side-foot assist.
Isco’s performance showed that he is a strong contender to start against Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the Champions League. He is earning Zidane’s trust and while Gareth Bale’s Madrid future looks bleak, Isco’s future could really be on the rise. Cristiano is now in the form of his life but in his absence, Isco showed that he has the capability to bring a different certainty to Madrid play.