Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has refused to be drawn into the growing debate over who should feature in his starting eleven, Isco or James Rodriguez.
During the absence of Luka Modric, Isco performed well-above expectations and endeared himself to club supporters with his all-around performances in the midfield.
The 22-year-old was handed additional responsibilities when James was ruled out for two months with a broken foot in February. However, the Spain international continued to shine and was arguably Real Madrid’s most consistent player during a particularly difficult stretch for the club between January and March.
Since the return of Modric and James from injury, it appears that Isco will be once again designated for the role of substitute, with James being the manager’s first choice to start games.
But this hasn’t stopped fans and the Spanish press from voicing their opinion as to which midfielder should lineup alongside Modric and Toni Kroos in the center of the pitch for Real Madrid.
Speaking ahead of his side’s match against Rayo Vallecano, Carlo Ancelotti hailed the qualities of both players while refusing to be drawn into the ongoing debate being held by those outside of the team.
“Both could play because they have played together many times,” Ancelotti said. “It’s not a debate between Isco and James, competition in the squad is a good thing.
“We almost have the whole squad in optimum state. James is doing very well in his first season and Isco too. He’s a great player and he has had some fantastic games. I’m lucky to have both of them. It’s a welcome problem.”
Ancelotti was then asked if he intended to save James for important matches on the schedule. But the manager quickly dispelled that notion.
“That’s not true; there are no players who are more or less important than others,” the manager responded.
“James is playing well and Isco is as well. Everybody is happy with him, the fans as well.
“It’s difficult to choose. It’s difficult to choose between two players of their quality because they are complete players who can play in several positions on the pitch.”
When pressed further about his rotation policy and comments he made earlier this season regarding certain players (most notably: Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema and Isco) being “undroppable”, Ancelotti clarified his statements while pointing towards Madrid’s upcoming fixtures.
“Isco is a great player, he has been showing that all season,” Ancelotti continued. “I have a whole squad that are undroppable because I’ve got the best in the world. I am confident that from now until the end of the season everything’s going to come together.
“We have a game every three days until the start of May and rotations are going to be essential. Some players might be rested.”
Programming note: Rayo Vallecano vs. Real Madrid will be shown LIVE on Wednesday starting at 4:00pm EST on beIN SPORTS and fuboTV.
25+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
- Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $4.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
- $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
- Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
- Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family