Yes, if you can believe it, there were some Real Madrid fans calling Casemiro “finished” earlier this season and wanting a “conversation” about the world-class defensive midfielder. And in truth, I do not blame them or dare to insult them for their opinion. It was presumptuous, but Casemiro was not playing anywhere near his level to start the season. He was making a lot of sloppy mistakes, not quite “great” in defense, and extremely inconsistent.
That isn’t to say Casemiro has been perfect, but he has quite clearly shaken off those early-season – likely fatigue-related – issues. As with Dani Carvajal and Nacho, Casemiro showed his true value to Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal against Manchester City.
Real Madrid very clearly would not have made it past the Premier League superpower without the defensive midfielder’s grit, intelligence, and elite defensive work. There is not a player on this planet who can do what Casemiro does defensively. The best of the midfield work came with Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga, who must be praised for world-class play in the clutch. However, the base of the display was set by Casemiro against an organized City before the rest of the players could take advantage of the late-game chaos, just like against Chelsea.
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The 30-year-old has averaged 2.6 tackles per game in both the Champions League and LaLiga, as well as at least 1.2 interceptions per match in both competitions. It is hard to imagine Real Madrid functioning at the highest level defensively without the covering and astute interventions that Casemiro brings to the table.