The thing with football is that the attackers get a lot of attention for their flashy tricks while the defenders also get the limelight for last-ditch goal-saving tackles and the likes. Midfielders, too – the creative ones – are heaped with praises for their defence-splitting passes. But what about the holding midfielders? What about players like Casemiro?
When Real Madrid boss Florentino Perez sold Claude Makelele for not being glamorous enough with his passes and also bought David Beckham in the same window, Zinedine Zidane wondered as to what’s the point of coating a Bentley with gold when the engine itself has been sold.
Zidane knew the importance of Makelele and how his selfless work helped the others to expressively create. And it is for this reason that he has given Casemiro such importance in Real Madrid.
Carlos Henrique, aka Casemiro, was among the brightest talents at Sao Paolo before falling out with the club and eventually declining. He was then signed for the B team of Real Madrid, Castilla, where he began to flourish once again.
The following season, he was sent to Porto – and it was in Portugal where he stepped up big time.
When he returned, Rafa Benitez kept him and actually made him a starter. After Zidane took over, he realized the Brazilian’s importance and made him a mainstay in the lineup after some weeks of shunning him. And Casemiro hasn’t looked back ever since.
However, his lack of elegance on the ball irked quite a few fans, but so far this season, we have seen a much improved Casemiro.
Against Manchester United in the European Super Cup final, the Brazilian played some fine passes and put the icing on the cake with a well-taken goal. He kept up his good form and was confident on the ball in the next game against Barcelona as well.
And against Deportivo in Madrid’s first league game, he showed that he is going to attack the goal way more than he ever did. Both Toni Kroos and Casemiro are making more forward runs and using it to devastating effect.
Both of them took turns to make runs, but it was Casemiro’s runs that were more well-timed and better disguised. Indeed, the fact that he scored a tap-in goal from 4 yards out goes on to show that he is no muck when it comes to off-the-ball attacking movements.
This new-found ability of the Brazilian will help Real Madrid this season beyond comprehension. Even when it becomes a regular thing with him, it will be hard to pick his runs from the deep since he does it in a very subtle way.
And this gives Real Madrid more systematic variety than ever before. As if having the best players in the world wasn’t enough, their existing players are starting to improve the other aspects of their game. Be it Kovacic with his defending or Casemiro with his passing and attacking – things are looking just too good for the Galacticos.
Three goals in his last five official Real Madrid games for Casemiro. That’s just too good for a supposed holding midfielder.