• James Rodriguez is expected to be sidelined for a month with thigh injury
  • Isco has been given his chance by Real Madrid in Colombian’s absence
  • Rafa Benitez wants the Spain playmaker to score more goals from midfield 

Iain Rogers, Reuters

Real Madrid midfielder Isco needs to score more goals if he is to keep James Rodriguez out of the side when the Colombia international returns from injury, coach Rafa Benitez said on Monday.

James damaged a thigh muscle on duty with Colombia last week and will probably be sidelined for around a month and Isco played in his place in Saturday’s 6-0 La Liga success at Espanyol and is likely to do the same in Tuesday’s Champions League Group A opener at home to Shakhtar Donetsk.

While James has two goals in two appearances this term, to add to the 17 he netted last season, Isco has yet to score in his three games and only managed six in 2014-15.

Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez has urged Isco (left) to take his opportunity by scoring more goals

Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez has urged Isco (left) to take his opportunity by scoring more goals

Isco (right) has been playing more frequently at the Bernabeu following James Rodriguez’s injury

JAMES RODRIGUEZ STATS 2015/16 

Appearances                                 2

Goals scored                                 2

Shooting accuracy                       75%

Passing accuracy                         89%

Yellow/red card                             0/0

ISCO STATS 2015/16 

Appearances                                  3

Goals scored                                  0

Shooting accuracy                         33%

Passing accuracy                           89%

Yellow/red card                              0/0

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) gets back to training after his five goal haul against Espanyol

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) gets back to training after his five goal haul against Espanyol

World's most expensive player Gareth Bale (centre) smiles as he watches team-mates in training

World’s most expensive player Gareth Bale (centre) smiles as he watches team-mates in training

Benitez has referred to Shakhtar Donetsk as 'a great team with a very experienced coach'

Benitez has referred to Shakhtar Donetsk as ‘a great team with a very experienced coach’

Sergio Ramos (3rd right) goes up for an aerial challenge with Nacho Fernandez

Sergio Ramos (3rd right) goes up for an aerial challenge with Nacho Fernandez

Bale has admitted feeling more part of the things at the bernabeu under new manager Benitez

Bale has admitted feeling more part of the things at the bernabeu under new manager Benitez

Norwegian youngster Martin Odegaard (right) practices with the senior players at Valdebebas

Norwegian youngster Martin Odegaard (right) practices with the senior players at Valdebebas

Brazilian defender Marcelo (Right) presses Ronaldo during a training exercise

Brazilian defender Marcelo (Right) presses Ronaldo during a training exercise

Ramos plays a pass under pressure from former Tottenham star Luka Modric (right)

Ramos plays a pass under pressure from former Tottenham star Luka Modric (right)

‘Isco is a great footballer and what he needs to do is to carry on doing what he has been this whole time,’ Benitez told a news conference previewing the clash at the Bernabeu.

‘Work, work with intensity and dedication and beyond that make the most of the quality he has to score the odd goal more,’ added the 55-year-old, who took over from the sacked Carlo Ancelotti at the end of last season.

‘I am very interested in the contribution he makes in terms of effort and balance and if he is more effective in front of goal that is better for everyone.’

The former Liverpool and Chelsea manager puts an arm around Karim Benzema during training

The former Liverpool and Chelsea manager puts an arm around Karim Benzema during training

Ronaldo (2nd left) dribbles with the ball as Real Madrid prepare for their Champions League opener

Ronaldo (2nd left) dribbles with the ball as Real Madrid prepare for their Champions League opener

The Spaniard was speaking ahead of the 10-times European champion's match against Shakhtar Donetsk

The Spaniard was speaking ahead of the 10-times European champion’s match against Shakhtar Donetsk

Rodriguez (left) is expected to be sidelined for a month after injury his thigh on international duty

Rodriguez (left) is expected to be sidelined for a month after injury his thigh on international duty

Real, the record 10-times European champions who last won the continent’s elite club competition in 2014, were in electric form in their two most recent La Liga outings.

They hit five without reply past Real Betis and followed up by hammering Espanyol when Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo netted five goals to become Real’s record scorer in La Liga.

Ronaldo is also the joint leading marksman in the Champions League with 77 goals alongside Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Shakhtar and their Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu could be in for a rough ride on Tuesday.

Isco congratulates Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese scored five in the 6-0 defeat of Espanyol

Isco congratulates Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese scored five in the 6-0 defeat of Espanyol

Real have only failed to win their opening home match twice in 45 European Cup campaigns and not since 1962 when they drew 3-3 against Anderlecht.

‘They are a great team with a very experienced coach who always gets the best out of his new players,’ Benitez said.

‘They have players with ability, quality and speed and if we are not very focused and do not take the game as seriously as we should we could find it difficult.’


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