Defensive midfielders have become invaluable puzzle pieces in winning football jigsaws.
Brazil & Real Madrid star Casemiro has been a shining example of the modern man in the engine room, putting out fires and burning bright in the Spanish capital.
World-class midfield generals certainly don't grow on trees, something that Real Madrid knows that all too well. In retrospect, they'd have regretted allowing Claude Makélélé to leave the club in 2003 a year after they became champions of Europe for the ninth time and it took them over a decade to win Europe's most coveted prize again and complete the fabled La Decima.
🥾 Filling enormous boots
After numerous failed attempts to adequately replace Makélélé's skills in the middle of the park, Real Madrid found Carlos Henrique Casimiro, also known as Casemiro, in 2013 and the rest is pretty much history. Casemiro went out on loan to Porto for the 2013-14 season but by the following campaign, he was a mainstay at the Bernabeu and now he's a four-time Champions League winner.
🏆🏆🏆 A legendary Madrid three-peat
Madrid's three-peat of Champions League successes in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was built on a midfield fulcrum of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić. Casemiro has made it his top priority to do all of the dirty work behind the scenes which allowed his more attack-minded colleagues to flourish.
In many ways, he's redefined the defensive midfield position by going back to basics and doing the simple things incredibly well. In 2017 Casemiro produced a sublime display in the Champions League final against Juventus, shackling the likes of Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuaín, grabbing a goal of his own when he volleyes Madrid into a 2-1 lead just beyond the hour mark. They didn't look back.
Examining Casemiro's selfless playing style, it's evident that he possesses something bordering on a sixth sense for reading danger and snuffing it out, often before it even exists. It's no wonder that this footballing firefighter is so popular amongst teammates and managers alike.
🥇 Casemiro's accolades
As you can see, the Brazilian has a staggering medal collection for club and country:
- 🏆 UCL 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
- 🇧🇷 Copa América 2019
- 🗺 Club World Cup 2016, 2017, 2018
- 🇪🇺 UEFA Super Cup 2017, 2018
- 🥇 LaLiga 2017, 2020
- 🎖 Copa Del Rey 2014
- 🇪🇸 Spanish Super Cup 2018, 2020
- 🌎 Copa Sudamericana 2012
⚽️ Adding goals to his game in 2020-21
The COVID pandemic hasn't been kind to most teams around Europe, with Madrid stuttering in their LaLiga title defence but, despite all that, they're only three points adrift of city rivals Atletico. Casemiro has weighed in with five goals this season, already his joint-most prolific campaign in the top-flight, and there are still 14 rounds to play.
Closing in on 300 appearances in Real Madrid's famous white jersey, it's beyond doubt that Casemiro is a club legend who will be remembered alongside the greats.
Next on the agenda for Casemiro is the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie with Atalanta. Zinedine Zidane's side is ravaged by injuries so, more than ever, they'll be leaning heavily on the experience and big-match temperament of Casemiro.
You can never rule out Los Blancos in the Champions League. If they are to win their 14th European Cup, the man with the number 14 on his back will be a pivotal figure.
📲 Follow Atalanta vs Real Madrid live