Real Madrid vs. Barcelona: 5 players who must shine on Saturday

Real Madrid, Casemiro (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Casemiro (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Casemiro
Casemiro of Real Madrid (Photo by Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid DM Casemiro

Last season, Casemiro was the best defensive midfielder in La Liga, and it really wasn’t close. You could argue that Casemiro was the third-best player in La Liga after Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema, though it is difficult to compare players at different positions. Nonetheless, Case was crucial to Real’s success, and he was worked harder than just about anyone else.

The Brazilian midfielder hasn’t been at his best for most of the 2020-2021 season, but the effort and defensive intensity are certainly there. He needs to be more careful with the ball, noting a pass completion percentage that is barely over 80 percent, but he leads the team in tackles per game (2.4) yet again.

Casemiro was amazing in both Clasicos last season, playing a huge role in how effective Real Madrid were at shutting down Barcelona superstar Messi in the second Clasico of 2019-2020. The 28-year-old did not give Messi space on the ball and stole the ball from him whenever he could. He was smart defensively but also relentless.

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Real Madrid need their superstars who have started the season somewhat slowly to wake up this weekend at the Camp Nou, and the two players coming into focus are Benzema and Casemiro. But based on the defensive breakdowns this season, Casemiro’s reemergence may end up being most important on Saturday afternoon.