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The Casemiro Curse

Casemiro is a tank, but with a worrying supply of artillery in his inventory

MARCA

Five minutes and three seconds into the game as Takefusa Kubo ran down Real Madrid’s right flank in a March 14th game vs Mallorca, Casemiro tried to cover up for a misplaced pass he hit to Lucas Vazquez. But Kubo was already behind the 30-year-old defensive midfielder. “Kubo’s got away from Casemiro,” the commentator narrated.

Carlos Henrique Casemiro signed for Real Madrid in 2013. As the years rolled by, he soon went on to be fabled as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. With four Champions League titles and two La Ligas under his belt, he soon became a pivotal part of Real Madrid.

“The only player who doesn’t have replacement is Casemiro,” Zinedine Zidane said in an interview to AS in 2016.

However, his legacy is tapering away in the shadows of misplaced passes, inaccurate shooting, and ball giveaways. A defensive wall and a leaking tavern -- Casemiro is the curse that Real Madrid will have to learn to live with.

In the domestic league, Casemiro boasts the highest number of tackles on the team (83). Eder Militao holds second place with 48 tackles. Apart from taking the ball to boot, Casemiro also tops the number of shots blocked and falls only second to Militao in the number of interceptions.

In terms of successful pressing, Casemiro tops the list of midfielders all across Europe. Data from players who have played more than 900 minutes this season showed that Casemiro has achieved the feat of winning the ball the most number of times while pressing.

In 2017, Casemiro let fly from outside the box to score Madrid’s third goal against Napoli.

“We practice shooting every day, and it’s something I in particular work on,” Casemiro talked about the goal in an interview to Real Madrid News. “With me often breaking into the box and getting chances to shoot from the edge of the area,”

Little did people know that the “stunning” goal was a predecessor to a string of misplaced shots he’d endure. In this season’s La Liga, Casemiro ranks fifth in the total number of shots but this feat becomes unimpressive as one looks at the number of shots on target; Casemiro is the 18th worst midfielder with respect to the percentage of shots on target in Europe’s top five leagues.

The analysis also showed that he was among the bottom three midfielders in La Liga in terms of percentage of shots on target.

The Brazilian midfielder is also the player with the second highest number of errors leading to an opponent’s shot in Europe and is the second worst when it comes to having been dribbled past the most number of times this season — only behind Vinicius Jr. in the team.

In Carlo Ancelotti’s second stint as a manager, critics have pointed out the lack of rotation in the squad. Casemiro’s minutes this season conform with the ‘no-rotation’ policy. The only players to have played more minutes in the club this season are Thibaut Courtois, Militao, David Alaba, and Vinicius — pinning Casemiro as the most used midfielder in the team.

Ancelotti defended the lack of rotations in a press conference earlier in February.

“While it’s true I’ve mostly used the same players, some players weren’t ready to play,” Ancelotti explained. “I think I have been managing the squad well because I’m the one who sees the players every day,” Ancelotti said.

The reliability on Casemiro in the midfield three is unparalleled and with no natural replacement in the squad, the shortcomings appear even more glaring. Perhaps it’s time to entrust others in his stead more often.