“I don’t know when he’ll rest, but not now,” those were the bosses words following the 5-0 drubbing of Leganes when asked about the amount of minutes Casemiro has played. Zidane recognizes his Brazilian midfield general has played a lot of minutes, 1,140 to be exact, but he has no plans to sit him. After a below-par season last year, the 27-year-old has entered the new season reborn. Just how good has he been? Well, let’s allow his numbers to do the talking.
In La Liga alone this season, Casemiro leads in all of the following categories:
- 1st in Duels Won (101)
- 1st in Interceptions (27)
- 1st in Tackles (27)
The real fun begins when you compares his averages vs prior seasons:
The table above gives credence to the eye-test; Casemiro is performing at his previous elite-levels. Though, the alarm bells should start to ring if one is to look at the benefits to Casemiro in a long-term view rather than short-term. For the first time in his three season as a starter, Casemiro surpassed the 3,500 minute mark in the 2017/2018 season. If you need a reminder as to why surpassing that minutes threshold is bad, read this. Burnout occurred the following year, with his usual consistent tackle and interception numbers of 5.9 per game declining dramatically by 25%.
The great news for Madrid fans, is he’s back to a whopping 6.4 tackles and interceptions per game, nearly the same he produced in the double winning 2016/2017 season. But, it’s hard to ignore the drop-off in 18/19. Obviously some of the poor numbers can be attributed to the change in coaches, the dip in form of his fellow teammates (especially Kroos and Modric), and the overall negative environment surrounding the club after a season that just continued to spiral down. But, it’s equally impossible not to attribute the one outlier season, in terms of minutes played, to the drop-off in what has usually been consistent form.
With over 1,000 minutes played after 10 games this season, Casemiro is on track to blow through the 3,500 minute threshold. If he doesn’t suffer an injury in the spring time, his form will likely dip and the burnout could take place again then or in the following season. The Brazilian has been simply too important to rest, but a reinforcement should be brought in within the January window to help offset Casemiro’s workload. Or in the scenario of another 4-0 lead by the 60th minute, Case should be replaced.
“I’m here to play, the coach knows the minutes that I have played and he knows when I can rest. I’m enjoying my football a lot, I am in some of the best form of my career. I want to play all the games that I can,” Casemiro told reporters after the Leganes game. Real Madrid are far better team with an in-form Casemiro. Very few can rival the defensive midfielder when he is at the top of his game. His numbers prove that he is once again back and in some of the best form of his career, as he has attested to, now it’s up to Zidane to properly manage him.