Gareth Bale is the headline absentee for Real Madrid as Santiago Solari instead opted for teenager Vinicius Junior and Lucas Vazquez in support of Karim Benzema for the El Clasico clash with Barcelona.
Exciting Brazilian wonderkid Vinicius has been a bright spark for Los Blancos in recent weeks but it was suggested he would be rested at the Camp Nou, having featured in Madrid’s last nine games.
Frenchman Benzema leads the line in this Copa del Rey semi-final first leg encounter, having been revitalised since emerging from Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow this season, while youngster Marcos Llorente starts in midfield alongside the fit again Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
The 26-year-old has been restricted to five starts for Los Blancos this season making only a further 10 appearances from the bench.
Naturally there is increased talk Isco will exit Madrid in the summer with a number of interested parties said to monitoring his situation.
And one of those could actually be a lot closer to home. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has stirred the pot by revealing he would be willing to broach the subject of buying Isco with Real counterpart Florentino Perez if head coach Ernesto Valverde gave the green light.
“If our coaches asked us for a player and they want to leave Madrid, of course we would sign them,” Bartomeu told El Partidazo de COPE.
“But it has not happened since I’m here.
“There are no non-aggression pacts. Each one tries to make their team more competitive.
“Isco? For the sake of Real Madrid I would speak with the president of Real Madrid.”
The playmaker is contracted at Real until 2022.
Real Madrid manager Santiago Solari spoke to the media on Tuesday, as his side continued their preparations for the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final match away against La Liga leaders Barcelona on Wednesday.
“You can never know that because it’s not only up to one team’s intention. What we expect is a beautiful game, it’s a ‘Clasico’. I wish everyone will enjoy it. We expect to play a great game, of course, just like we’ve been doing lately, and to win,” he said, “In football it’s always good if the best players can play every game, that’s the way it is.”
The fixture will be Solari’s first ‘Clasico’ in charge of Real Madrid.
The last time the two sides met Barcelona thrased Madrid 5-1, a result that prompted the sacking of former coach Julen Lopetegui after just three months in charge.