Real Madrid: 5 players who must shine against Atalanta in the first leg

Real Madrid, Casemiro (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Casemiro (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Casemiro
Real Madrid, Casemiro (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

DM Casemiro

Finally, we come to Casemiro, who must excel in multiple phases of the game this Wednesday night. Toni Kroos is another midfielder to highlight, but we know he will be amazing. His consistency this season for Real Madrid speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, Casemiro has recovered from a very poor start to the season and is now playing at his best again. This weekend, Case scored the lone goal in the win over Real Valladolid, atoning for a headed miss off a Kroos set piece by steering home another one in the second half.

Heading into this match, Casemiro is actually Real’s leading scorer in La Liga with five goals. Yes, that’s a huge problem for Los Blancos, but it also means that Case has the opportunity to be the hero again. He has scored a number of clutch goal for Real Madrid this season, and he could very well be the hero again on Wednesday night. And he might need to be.

Defensively, the Brazilian midfielder will be tested. Atalanta could hit Real hard on the counter, and that is where Case’s defensive contributions are so important. He had 30 defensive involvements (tackles plus interceptions) in his last five league matches, which averages out to a whopping six per game. Find anyone operating at that level in Europe right now.

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Atalanta have a host of quality midfielders, but they are even greater than the sum of their parts in the way they play together. Casemiro will, like Varane, have to avoid mistakes and clean up whatever comes his way. But even more than Varane, he will have to step up offensively. There will be a lot on the 28-year-old superstar’s plate this week.