In football, there are many artistic forms expressed differently throughout the game. Dribbling, passing, shooting, but one that’s always overlooked is the art of defending. Casemiro, a defensive midfielder, has helped guide Real Madrid to its current dynasty.
He debuted for Real Madrid on April 20, 2013 after becoming an impressive figure in Castilla and went on to being part of the Real Madrid squad that won the Copa Del Rey and La Decima. His importance wasn’t known at the time, so Casemiro was loaned to Porto for the 14/15 season where he excelled as the anchor in Julen Lopetegui’s midfield.
Next season, he returned to the capital with Rafa Benitez as a manager. Benitez didn’t start Casemiro often, and the Spaniard was soon sacked after a run of poor from. Zidane took charge and had the choice of playing Isco, James, Kovačić, or Casemiro who were all looking to shine alongside Kroos and Modric. Zidane made the choice of playing Casemiro as a starter most games, and he quickly added much-needed balance to the team, letting Kroos and Modrić roam the field without worrying much about having to drop back.
His presence also allows Carvajal and Marcelo to advance through the wings, giving the team more options on the attack. Casemiro was great at intercepting, pressuring, and man marking, but what surprised everyone was how good he was at dispossessing his opponents. He went on to become an important key in winning Real Madrid’s 11th champions league title, which was his 2nd European Cup. At the end of the season, it was clearer than ever that Real Madrid had one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.
Although he was an exceptional defensive player, the fans wanted more from him as he wasn’t as great on the ball as other midfielders. As soon as the 16/17 season began, many fans were doubting him as he had not improved on his attributes with the ball, but Zidane never changed his mind about starting Casemiro. As the season went on, it was easy to spot the difference in his game: not only did he improve on his positioning but his ball control and vision was that of a different player. He had gained confidence and became one of the most important players in the squad. After each game, you’d just watch the stats come in with Casemiro leading in most interceptions and successful tackles. With his teammates and his excellent performances, it wasn’t hard to see that Kroos-Casemiro-Modrić was the best midfield in the world. He finished the season winning back to back Champions League titles and his first league title as well, cementing his name in the history books at just the age of 25.
Written by: Andres Mendoza