Isco’s most delicate touch came before kick-off against Iran.
Just before the game got underway, the Real Madrid midfielder bent down and gently lifted a bird off the turf at the Kazan Arena before setting the oblivious creature down out of harm’s way.
Once the game began, he showed similar consideration for the Adidas Telstar.
His ambitious dribbling, deftness of touch and x-ray vision made him worth the ticket money alone.
It’s inconceivable to me that any manager would dare consider starting him on the bench.
But I guess Real Madrid’s hat-trick of Champions League trophies speaks for itself.
Andres Iniesta is my favourite player of all time.
But once the Barcelona legend hangs up his boots, I’ll have to fill the vacancy of ‘favourite active player’ and right now Isco has a second interview locked down.
Spanish fans will be equally satisfied with the emergence of Isco as Iniesta’s natural heir for the national team.
Watching the two of them link up against Iran was a joy to behold.
Carlos Queiroz’s deep block was admirably stubborn but Isco’s invention broke the lines time and time again…
Ultimately, the 2010 champions needed a fortunate Diego Costa goal to win the game.
But Isco’s masterclass was a demonstration of the gulf in technical quality between the two sides.
Spain’s future opponents should be worried.
If he can pick holes in a back six, imagine what he’ll do to team who are willing to commit men forward.
Spain were effectively playing 4-1-4-1 for much of the game with Sergio Busquets sitting behind a quartet of attacking midfielders.
Isco’s decision-making was superb — when to give-and-go, when to go home to Sergio Ramos or Sergio Busquets, when to take on his man on the outside.
His match stats are suitably impressive:
- Most touches (137)
- Most passes (137)
- Most crosses (7)
- Most take-ons (7)
Pleasant reading for sure.
But Isco, like Iniesta, is best enjoyed in the intangible sense.
It’s the style and nature of his those passes and take-ons that make him such a joy to watch.
He glides across the turf weightlessly, like Legolas walking on top of the snow as the others trudge through it.
Spain’s squad is bursting with talent but Julen Lopetegui was wise to give Isco centre stage, and Fernando Hierro is equally wise to have maintained such a directorship.
It’s early days, but Spain look the strongest of the favourites and if they go deep, Isco could well have a Golden Ball to show for his efforts.
The immediate future looks bright for the 26-year-old.
With Lopetegui at the Bernabeu helm, he will surely be given a more prominent role at club level next season.
His scoring rate at international level is nearly double than that for Real.
Perhaps Madridistas can look forward to a more prolific Isco next campaign.
Triple-whammy football on a daily basis has severed my patience.
I’m already fiending for my next hit of Isco magic.
What’s ‘artist’ in Spanish?