May 21, 2018 / 4:18 PM / 6 months ago

Soccer: Isco adds freshness and flair to exciting Spain side

MADRID (Reuters) - While Isco has failed to convince coach Zinedine Zidane he is worthy of regular selection for Real Madrid, this could yet prove a blessing in disguise for Spain’s World Cup hopes in Russia.

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Real Madrid vs Celta Vigo - Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain - May 12, 2018 Real Madrid's Isco celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Susana Vera

Coach Julian Lopetegui will be able to benefit not only from the playmaker’s freshness but also his determination to prove his quality after a frustrating season on a personal level at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Over the World Cup qualifying campaign, Isco became increasingly crucial to Spain, delivering some of the best performances in his career.

The 26-year-old’s most impressive display came against Italy in September, when he scored twice in a 3-0 win for La Roja that put them in a commanding position in Group G and effectively forced their opponents into the play-offs.

While no single player can be considered indispensable for Spain, who have strength in depth in all positions and a style which puts the focus on teamwork and interplay, Isco still adds a magic touch that delights supporters and bewitches defenses.

He has scored four goals in his last four competitive matches for Spain, as well as setting up two for Diego Costa and Rodrigo Moreno.

Isco also scored the first hat-trick of his career in an astonishing 6-1 friendly win over Argentina in March, making him Spain’s star performer in a match which underlined their position as one of the tournament favorites.

Lopetegui managed Isco with Spain’s Under-21 side and trusts him, which Isco believes has led to his improved displays with the national team.

“When you don’t have consistent games with your club, matches with the national team give me life,” said Isco.

“Here, the coach has confidence in me. Maybe, I haven’t earned that at Madrid. There I don’t have the confidence that a footballer needs.”

With Isco let off the leash away from Madrid, Lopetegui has a dangerous weapon who could drag the 2010 champions to more World Cup glory.

Writing by Rik Sharma; Editing by Ian Chadband

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