Casemiro is Real Madrid's game changer
After Xabi Alonso left for the Allianz Arena, Real Madrid had a gaping hole in their midfield. Though aged, Alonso not only had an eagle's vision but also the wisdom of a defender, which made him invaluable to the Los Blancos.
With his departure, came the signing of Toni Kroos who was an integral part of Bayern Munchen's UEFA Champions League-winning squad. Kroos was an exquisite passer of the ball, but failed to fill the gap left by Alonso.
Casemiro came to Real Madrid on loan from Sao Paulo in January 2013 and was assigned to the B-Team. Soon, he was bought from São Paulo, but, having failed to impress, he was loaned to Porto in 2014 and that's where the tables turned for him.
He featured in 40 games and helped his side reach the quarter-finals of the UCL. Due to his amazing spell at Porto, Real Madrid quickly activated his buy-back clause under the newly appointed Zinedine Zidane. With Casemiro coming into the playing 11, Real Madrid's defensive gaps were filled.
Modric, Kroos and Casemiro make up the dangerous midfield trio of Real Madrid. Out of these three, Casemiro is the most defensively sound one. A holding midfielder's job is to cover both the centre-backs and act as the feeder of the ball to the team.
Casemiro has been doing this job for the past two seasons for the Blancos. With his impressive speed, he can also provide cover to his fellow wing-backs - Carvajal and Marcelo.
His task of covering Ramos and Varane not only strengthens the defence, but also allows them to make tackles with the Brazilian having their back.
Marcelo and Casemiro's Brazilian connection also makes Casemiro more effective in the team. Marcelo, who is better known for his marauding runs on the left wing than the tackles at the back, said in an interview for theplayerstribune.
"Ahhhh, Casimiro. He saved my life. I might play until I’m 45 with this guy by my side."
Not only does Casemiro give Marcelo the freedom to attack but covers for him with his defensive prowess.
Apart from covering the defence, Casemiro also shuts down the passing paths for the opposition. It's one of the two things he's best at in the world. Real Madrid have conceded more goals in the absence of Casemiro, the reason being no one stays at the back to cover up for the players up front.
Casemiro is one of the very few players who can disrupt a counter attack.
One on one tackles is the second thing he's best at in the world. Casemiro, with his good physique and sharp reactions, makes tackles that result in an instant shift of balance in the game. Although a good tackler, he can, sometimes, be reckless.
We all know the term "taking one for the team". Casemiro is the only one among the midfield trio who sacrifices himself for the sake of the team. He is not shy from making tackles to stop the player and receive a booking.
Casemiro played a crucial part in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 UEFA Champions League season as Real Madrid claimed it consecutively for two years.He also scored a goal in the final against Juventus that gave Real Madrid the lead after Mandzukic's equaliser.
Already a big name at the Bernabeu, Casemiro is showing potential near equal to that of Xabi Alonso. If all goes according to plan, he might surpass Xabi Alonso.
Published 30 Sep 2017, 10:50 IST