Isco, Real Madrid’s gem

“Isco Isco Isco!” shouted the Santiago Bernabeu faithful. The little playmaker Real Madrid bought from Malaga was dazzling them on the pitch. It was Isco’s hard work on the left side, getting past Andres Iniesta to deliver a pass to Cristiano Ronaldo that eventually led to Madrid’s third goal of the night. Hard-working, capable of defending and attacking, the fans had once again witnessed the intelligence of the player, this time against their fiercest rivals.

While his performance in the Clasico was worthy of praise, Isco has long been a player capable of impacting a match, either by helping Real Madrid to victory or actually limiting the number of goals they concede.

Signal Iduna Park, April 8th 2014, Borussia Dortmund defeated Los Blancos. Using their pace and intelligence to isolate Madrid’s centre-backs, they were desperate to win the tie on aggregate. Having already scored twice, Carlo Ancelotti threw Isco on to allow his side to breathe and reclaim control from the Germans, who played a dynamic pressing game.

Isco’s ability to work in tight spaces, to maintain possession and his understanding of how to control the tempo made all the difference. He calmed the game and allowed his side to not concede anymore. Real Madrid won 3-2 on aggregate.

Given Gareth Bale’s injury, Isco has been given more chances to play and against Levante he demonstrated improvement and his willingness to combine hard-work and relentless running with beautiful technique. A magician on the ball, he covered 10km on the day, scored one and assisted another.

In fact, his performance was so great that certain media outlets are hypothesising that the club may no longer need the Welshman and are considering his sale. In a recent poll conducted online by Marca, 82% of those who participated said they preferred to have Isco rather than Bale on the pitch. The latter may be the most expensive player but he doesn’t caress the ball in the same manner, contribute to the defence as much or open the field to allow for further fluidity going forward in attack.

However, it’s not only Madridistas who are in love with the young Spaniard. Playing against Cornella in the Copa del Rey match on Wednesday evening, Isco’s every pass, every touch of the ball was met with applause, with cheers. Spain has found their new hero, their hope for the future.

Ancelotti has always been a fan. Why? Because unlike what was reported about a certain Mesut Ozil, he is not scared of a fight, of competing for a place and unlike others, emotions do not dictate his performances. He is cold, intelligent and calculative, confident of his ability to develop into one of the world’s best.

Marca dubbed the attacking midfielder the ‘unsung stalwart’ as he was the ‘Galactico’ who made the most number of appearances in the 2013-14 campaign. He may not have been a starter but his contribution to a match was always visible and clear. In fact only Karim Benzema, Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria scored more than the player who was often viewed as little more than a substitute by most.

He may still struggle to start when Bale returns but make no mistake – Isco is Madrid’s gem and might well outperform the very teammates he admires today.