When James Rodriguez made a big-money move to Real Madrid from Monaco, after an impressive World Cup, a lot of questions were being raised about Iscoai??i??s future and his role in the team. At that time it seemed like Isco, who was signed by Real Madrid from Malaga in 2013, will spend a lot of time warming the bench this season. However, as we are almost midway through the season, Isco has moulded himself to fit in the team and has become one of the most important players for ai???Los Blancosai??i??.

In his time at Malaga and the first season at Real Madrid, Isco played the role of an attacking midfielder with impressive ease. However, as the 2013 season progressed, Carlo Ancelotti moved from the 4-3-2-1 to a 4-3-3 which saw Isco fall down the pecking order behind the versatile Di Maria. This forced Isco to develop his game defensively and adapt to the new formation. The Spaniard took his time but eventually managed to excel in the role despite not featuring regularly in the starting line-up.

Di Maria, who was Iscoai??i??s biggest competitor last season, left for Manchester United but also came in the Colombian sensation James Rodriguez. The hefty price tag that came with James Rodriguez meant that the midfielder must be a given a regular and important role in the starting line-up. This meant that Isco would have to wait for his chance to shine. The chance did come for the 22-year old and oh boy did he shine! Opportunity came knocking on Iscoai??i??s door when Gareth Bale suffered from an injury and Isco was deployed on the wings partnering James Rodriguez in a 4-4-2.

Isco ai??i?? the Winger

The injury to Gareth Bale early in the season gave Isco a golden opportunity to prove his mettle and show the world why he is the real deal. Baleai??i??s injury led to Ancelotti using a more conservative 4-4-2 in which he fielded Isco on the left and James Rodriguez on the right. The gamble of playing Isco, primarily a central attacking midfielder, on the left paid off as the midfielder improved his game and did justice to Ancelottiai??i??s faith in him. Isco on the wings provided much more to the team defensively than James Rodriguez or Gareth Bale usually do. The midfielderai??i??s work rate is immense and he has the ability to cover a lot of ground. Isco creates space for his team-mates allowing them to move forward and get into attacking positions. Even in tight situations, Isco can be relied upon in squeezing the ball through the tiniest of gaps and create chances out of nothing. In the absence of Bale, Isco started 5 consecutive matches for Real Madrid, including two against Liverpool and one against Barcelona. In these games, Iscoai??i??s blend of defensive and attacking abilities played a vital role in the victories.

Isco ai??i?? the Cental Midfielder

When Bale returned from injury, it was Isco who had to be relegated to the bench despite his amazing performances. Isco came on as a substitute against Rayo Vallecano and per whoscored.com also racked up an assist in the 22 minutes he was on the pitch. The International break followed and Real Madrid had to suffer another injury blow as Luka Modric suffered from an injury when he was on International duty for Croatia. The injury is a serious one and could take around 2-3 months to recover. Modricai??i??s injury posed a serious problem to Ancelottiai??i??s system as the Italian has no like-for-like replacement for the midfielder despite having a wide range of midfielders in the squad. With Illarramendi and Khedira both not completely ready to play, Ancelotti had the tough task to field a player capable of playing Modricai??i??s role in the midfield. With Iscoai??i??s form and work-rate, Ancelottiai??i??s decision to field the 22-year old in a central midfield role alongside Toni Kroos was a master-stroke. In the league game against Eibar, Isco covered around 10,000 metres during the game, thus becoming Ancelotti’s long-distance runner out on the pitch. Isco again featured in the same position in the Champions League game against Basel away from home. In a tough European fixture, Isco proved his mettle with a successful passing rate of 90% per whoscored.com. He received a match rating of 7.83.

Iscoai??i??s recent performances domestically as well as internationally have brought to the fore his ability to change the game as the situation demands. Iscoai??i??s greatest strength undoubtedly is his energy, work-rate and compatibility with his teammates. The midfielder is already an excellent attacker and is now developing into a complete midfielder who is also capable of handling a deeper role in the midfield. Iscoai??i??s best may not come playing deep in the midfield, but Ancelotti surely trusts the Spaniard of fulfilling his duties in any position.

After the game against Eibar, Ancelotti spoke about Iscoai??i??s performance and the manager was clearly impressed with the youngster.

“[Isco] played very well,” the Blancos coach said . “He played a consistent game, with good defensive positioning and as always good quality on the attacking side. He showed he can play in that position.”

With Iscoai??i??s recent performances drawing a lot of praise, it will be interesting to see how Ancelotti uses the Spaniard in his plans.

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