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Casemiro’s presence in the midfield will be key against Valencia

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The midfielder is a yellow card away from missing El Clasico and Madrid visit Valencia this Sunday. Casemiro should still start.

Club Brugge KV v Real Madrid: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro will miss December 18th’s El Clasico against Barcelona if he gets booked during Madrid’s visit to Valencia this Sunday. He also needs to get some rest after being an undisputed starter this season, so it’d make sense to sit him on the bench against Valencia so that he could be fresh and available at the Camp Nou, right? Wrong.

In fact, one could argue that Casemiro will be more needed at Mestalla because of Valencia’s counterattacking style. Celades’ men like to sit back and wait for their chances to develop as soon as they recover the ball, mainly through Parejo’s pinpoint passes and Rodrigo’s speed. Casemiro’s work rate and presence in the defensive midfielder position is crucial in that scenario and while it’s true that Valverde could somewhat replicate that role, Modric and Kroos would struggle pressing Valencia’s first passes and Real Madrid wouldn’t be as successful recovering the ball.

It’s also true that Casemiro will likely get booked in this game against Valencia. The home players and fans alike are very aware of his situation and will try to force the issue so that he misses El Clasico. Zidane knows it. Real Madrid need Casemiro in Valencia and at the same time it’s quite likely that he misses El Clasico if he ends up starting.

It might sound crazy, but Casemiro could be more useful against Valencia than in El Clasico, though. Barcelona will be expected to control the tempo of the game while Madrid will most likely embrace a counterattacking style knowing that Barcelona’s transition defense isn’t all that great. In that kind of game, Real Madrid won’t need a high pressing line with Valverde’s physicality, so El Pajaro could instead play in Casemiro’s spot if he stays disciplined and shows good positional awareness in training.

It’s obvious. Real Madrid would rather have Casemiro in both games, but that just isn’t very likely. It looks like Zidane will have to pick one game for him and considering that he featured in the starting XI in the meaningless game against Brugge, some could think that he will rest this upcoming Sunday. Whether that’s actually the right plan or not remains to be seen.