With influential Real Madrid star Isco set to be sidelined for up to a month after a surgery, the Los Blancos will be without some serious creativity in the midfield. But with a squad as deep and as rich with top quality players as Real’s, they most likely won’t be missing the Spanish midfielder much if his replacements fire straight away. Fox Sports Asia looks at three stars who could step up at Santiago Bernabeu in Isco’s absence.
1. MARCO ASENSIO
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Undoubtedly one of Real’s best performers this season, Asensio has been the man playing on the left wing for the European champions this season. He’s filling in the void that a certain Cristiano Ronaldo left. The young Spanish forward has been in fine form for Real since the preseason and his combination with the likes of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale are on point. But despite all these, whenever Julen Lopetegui opted to play Isco in front of the midfield trio of Modric-Kroos-Casemiro, Asensio has been the one who’s had to give way.
But that’s not saying Lopetegui has limited Asensio’s playing time. He opts for the speed of Bale and the exceptional linkup play of Karim Benzema. Therefore Asensio, still a youngster, has had to sit on the sidelines and wait for his opportunity. Despite proving himself, the stardom of Isco, Bale got the better of Asensio. But in Spain and Real, they know just how great a player he is. with Isco out, there should not be much debate as to who should replace him in the starting lineup.
2. LUCAS VAZQUEZ
There was a time last season when Vazquez was almost the go-to man for Zinedine Zidane. He was ahead of Bale in the pecking order for his consistent performances that brought in the results Real wished for. With his speed, brilliant dribbling ability and proper temperament, the 27-year-old has been a revolution ever since he rejoined the club from Espanyol.
The perfect squad player for Real, Vazquez has stepped up whenever he was called upon and never took it to heart that he might never be one of Real’s undisputed starters. Instead, he chose to make use of the chances he got. And looking back at the last three years or so, he’s done exactly that. Lopetegui can turn to the winger if he opts to play a 4-3-3 formation with Bale on the other wing and Benzema through the middle. Vazquez’s speed, defensive work rate, eye for goal and immaculate vision gives him an edge over his other competitors for the spot.
He’s been used very rarely by Lopetegui so far, but an injury to Isco may very well be the start of his resurgence under the former Spanish national team coach.
3. MARIANO DIAZ
When Mariano was brought back from Lyon, everyone were astonished that Real handed him their legendary No 7 shirt. Mariano had to get a lot of stick and intense scrutiny for something he hadn’t even asked for. Safe to say, the start to his Madrid life wasn’t easy for the guy nicknamed ‘The Jaguar’.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) September 21, 2018
But against AS Roma in the Champions League almost a week ago, Mariano showed his class with an absolutely brilliant curler into the top corner. However, chances at Real will be few and far between. With most of his appearances coming off the bench, Mariano’s progress could be hampered. But with Isco not coming back into the reckoning for at least a few weeks now, Lopetegui can revert back to his favourite 4-3-3 formation with Mariano hugging the left wing. And if his goal against Roma is anything to go by, he’ll be loving that role.