Real Madrid star Isco's resilience has been praised by manager Zinedine Zidane after another quality performance in their 3-1 Supercopa victory over Valencia.
The Spanish midfielder was among the scorers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabai as Real sealed progression to the tournament's final on January 12, where they will meet the winner of Thursday's match between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Isco has regularly found himself being used as a squad player at Los Blancos, both during Zidane's previous spell and the il-fated reign of Santiago Solari.
But the 27-year-old is enjoying a new lease of life during Zidane's second stint - having started in three of Real's last four league matches and their previous two Champions League games.
"I had no role in Isco's recovery, I'm just glad about it," Zidane told reporters post-match.
"He has personality and wants to play. He doesn't shy away from responsibility."
102 -Isco Alarcón have made 102 & completed 96 passes vs Valencia, more than any other game in his career for @realmadriden (all competitions). Honey #SpanishSuperCup #SupercopadeEspaña #RealMadrid pic.twitter.com/Q6qT1kA5RH— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 8, 2020
In addition to Isco's first-half strike, Toni Kroos opened the scoring and Luka Modric added a third to secure victory for Real, with Dani Parejo's penalty in second-half stoppage time offering Valencia scant consolation.
With Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale unavailable, along with longer-term absentees Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio, Zidane experimented with his line-up by playing without wingers and using Isco and Modric as the most advanced players in a five-man midfield.
The move paid dividends on Wednesday as both players produced excellent displays in support of Luka Jovic and in front of Kroos, Casemiro and Federico Valverde in deeper midfield roles.
Zidane suggested the tactic could be used again this season as it allows Madrid's full-backs more space to attack against teams defending in deep blocks.
"We put in all the ingredients to win the game and it's a deserved victory," he said.
"We're working well. Emotionally, we're doing well. We have all the ingredients to play good games. That's what we did against Valencia, against opponents who are very good.
"We pressed high very well. The second half was much more direct and I'm happy because it's not easy against a very good team, who know how to play well. We can be pleased.
"Today, the option was to put Isco and Modric on the inside to have more runs from the full-backs.
"It was the option for today. We can play with wingers, but we did it the other way around, with more central players and using the wings with our full-backs. It worked for us.
"We prepare really well for games, we understand them very well. We're all together. In the end, it's the players that play, that give everything on the pitch."