Isco comes on in Real's win as Solari plays down rift

Lucas Vazquez celebrating after scoring his first league goal of the season to round off Real's 2-0 home win over Valencia on Saturday. It was their sixth victory in seven matches under new coach Santiago Solari.
Lucas Vazquez celebrating after scoring his first league goal of the season to round off Real's 2-0 home win over Valencia on Saturday. It was their sixth victory in seven matches under new coach Santiago Solari.PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID • While the marginalisation of Isco has continued to dominate headlines in Spain, Real Madrid did not let the issue sidetrack them as they moved up the LaLiga table with a 2-0 home win over Valencia on Saturday.

The Spain midfielder again failed to make the starting line-up for the seventh successive game under Santiago Solari, although he was at least on the bench, having been left out altogether for their Champions League win at Roma on Tuesday.

Isco came on only for the final 10 minutes, to cheers from the Santiago Bernabeu crowd, after an own goal from Daniel Wass gave Real an early lead before a late Lucas Vazquez strike wrapped up their sixth win in seven games under their new coach.

The 3-0 thrashing by Eibar last weekend, in Solari's first official game in charge, had placed the depth of the recovery in doubt, but this was another assured display to back up their impressive 2-0 away European victory.

The Argentinian had to deny there had been a falling-out with Isco, despite Spanish daily Marca reporting that his failure to shake hands with Solari at the end of the Eibar defeat had left to the rift.

He insisted he was "satisfied with Isco", saying: "He would be decisive (as a substitute) when we had a transition."

  • 10

  • Gareth Bale's LaLiga goal drought has reached double figures.

And he was pleased that Real were able to step up their game despite playing without injured midfielders Casemiro and Toni Kroos, and Gareth Bale enduring his longest scoring drought, now at 10 league games, since joining the European champions in 2013.

"It's fantastic, it's what makes teams solid and big, the big ones play many competitions," he said.

"It's a lot of games and it's important that each of the players is fit, cheerful and available."

Dani Carvajal also sought to play down talk that the squad were split over the sidelining of Isco, claiming he was the "most loved in the dressing room".

The defender said: "Without the fans, we are nobody and yes, it is true that these last months we are not giving what they deserve, and that is why we show our affection and try to give every victory we get."

Still, Isco appears not to figure in Solari's immediate plans, with Marcos Llorente impressing again on his second straight start filling in for Casemiro.

The midfielder, whose defensive qualities seem to be a better fit, seized his chance at Roma despite not even being in the squad for Eibar. He completed all 100 per cent of his passes in Valencia's half and Solari later praised his recent performances as "two great games" and "very complete".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2018, with the headline 'Isco comes on in Real's win as Solari plays down rift'. Print Edition | Subscribe