As it appears that Casemiro’s time at Real Madrid is coming to a close, it seems unusual to picture a Real Madrid team without the Brazilian in the middle of the park.
Since his debut in 2013 and his establishment as a regular in 2015, Casemiro has provided an unrivalled contribution to the team. His role has been unmatched and in a position in which Casemiro has never had a true substitute.
To look back across the 10 calendar years in which he has featured for Real Madrid, we’ve picked out 10 of the most memorable performances from all 336 matches that he has taken part in across each of the years in which he has donned the white of Real Madrid.
April 20th, 2013: Real Madrid 3 - 1 Real Betis, LaLiga
It’s hard to imagine a 21-year-old Casemiro wearing the number 38 shirt on his debut at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. At the time, it would have been even more difficult to imagine all that he would go on to achieve in the years ahead.
MARCA said that he “convinced the Bernabéu” while AS highlighted that “he worked until he was exhausted, was forceful and did not fail to make an impact, always without compromising the team.” It was an impressive debut under Jose Mourinho, in which he proved that he was worthy of turning his loan from São Paulo into a permanent move.
January 28th, 2014: Real Madrid 1-0 Espanyol, Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg
The calendar year in which Casemiro started only one game, against Espanyol, he did all he could to make his mark on the tie. This campaign, his first under Carlo Ancelotti, was a difficult one. Having featured regularly towards the end of the 2012/13 campaign under Mourinho, he wasn’t afforded the same chances by the Italian who would later oversee his departure.
With a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Cornellà, Real Madrid needed to keep things solid defensively at home and Casemiro orchestrated that. It was a performance which showed a gravitas that looks natural now, but belied his age and inexperience at the time.
October 31st, 2015: Real Madrid 3-1 Las Palmas, LaLiga
Casemiro had found things tough coming back to the club under Rafa Benítez. The coach didn’t seem to back him and his chances of game time were limited at the start of the season. Come October, he had worked his way into the team and was beginning to feel comfortable alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić. This tie against Las Palmas was the first one in which he truly bossed a game.
He set up the opening goal by pressing high to force an error, capitalizing by threading a pinpoint pass through to Isco to score. Then Las Palmas simply couldn’t find a way past him, running into a brick wall which continually robbed them of possession with an impressive 12 duels. Casemiro had arrived.
May 28th, 2016: Real Madrid 1-1 Atlético Madrid, Champions League final
Sergio Ramos was named the official man of the match in this encounter, but many Madridistas at the time felt that Casemiro would have been a worthy choice. It was the kind of game where Casemiro thrives, excelling and standing out with his tough-tackling and stamina. Even in the opening minutes of the game, he provided an attacking threat as Jan Oblak made a miraculous save to claw away his shot.
He alone accounted for 14% of the duels won by Real Madrid, and also won 100% of his aerial duels and his tackles. Atlético dominated in spells but every time Real Madrid would start to regain momentum it often came thanks in part to his turning over of possession. A fine performance ended with him getting his hands on a Champions League trophy for the first time having been left out of the squad in Lisbon two years earlier.
June 3rd, 2017: Real Madrid 4-1 Juventus, Champions League final
Looking across the two squads in Cardiff, full of attacking splendour and glamour, few would have expected Casemiro to be the man to send a rocket of a shot into the bottom corner to regain the lead for the Spaniards. It came at a crucial time with Juventus upping the pressure and just past the hour mark — the kind of time when the Brazilian always seems to stand out the most.
Casemiro brought calm to the team on a night when he acted as a leader. His 93% pass accuracy showed his influence and he was often the one to dictate the tempo, somewhat unusually for him, and to take control of the pace of the game. This was Casemiro the orchestrator, rather than Casemiro the destroyer. By winning a second consecutive Champions League title, he had already cemented his place in the club’s history books.
March 6th, 2018 - PSG 1-2 Real Madrid, Champions League round of 16, second leg
These 90 minutes are often labelled as Casemiro’s best in a Real Madrid shirt. By now, the Champions League was his competition and some upstarts in Paris were certainly not going to take it from him. A 3-1 first leg lead meant that Real Madrid could relax in the fog of Paris but Casemiro certainly did not, even if it was his block in the box that fell to Edinson Cavani to score PSG’s equalizer on the night.
In a game which suited him down to the ground, he got the equalizer in equally as rough a fashion as his shot on goal that deflected off international teammate Marquinhos and over the head of Alphonse Aréola in goal. Casemiro took the game by the scruff of the neck and made it his own.
February 9th, 2019 - Atlético Madrid 1-3 Real Madrid, LaLiga
With 31 goals for the club, it wasn’t unusual to see the Brazilian on the scoresheet. What was unusual was the manner of his goal against Atlético in the 2019 Derbi Madrileño. Real Madrid were yet to win at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano and needed to win to keep up in the title race. Few expected the fox in the box performing overhead kicks to be Casemiro.
Stepping free of his markers as a corner reached to Sergio Ramos, he found himself acrobatically throwing himself up in the air to fire beyond Oblak. It was an iconic moment that will live long in the memory for those looking back across Casemiro’s time at the club.
January 18th, 2020: Real Madrid 2-1 Sevilla, LaLiga
Casemiro has only scored one brace in his career, so it kind of had to fit into this list, right? Add in the fact that it came against one of Real Madrid’s toughest domestic rivals in a crucial point in the season, and it’s clear to see why. Following a guard of honour to recognize Real Madrid’s Super Cup win, Sevilla made life difficult for Los Blancos.
It was on the hour mark that Casemiro swept through the Sevilla defence with technique and strength before chipping the ball over Tomáš Vaclík as if he were a centre-forward. When Luuk de Jong equalized seven minutes later, Casemiro again stepped up, looking like a number nine as he found space eight yards out to head beyond Vaclík and regain the lead only five minutes later.
April 10th, 2021: Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona, LaLiga
Casemiro was only sent off twice for Real Madrid, despite the protests of rival fans, and so it was almost predictable that one of those dismissals would come against the arch nemesis. In the pouring rain at Valdebebas, he saw two yellow cards in less than 60 seconds, though there could be much debate about whether the second was worthy of a foul, much less a yellow card.
But this performance was memorable for so much more than just his sending off on 90 minutes. It was Casemiro’s final battle with Lionel Messi in a Clásico, and he came out on top. He won 10 duels, including all four tackles, and disrupted Barça’s game plan with ease. Ronald Koeman took to focusing the ball out wide simply to avoid Casemiro’s presence in the middle.
August 10th, 2022 : Real Madrid 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt, UEFA Super Cup
His farewell fixture. This game was one of his best yet, and it was a fitting way to end his Real Madrid career: with silverware. Making nine tackles, he made it clear that he was up for the occasion and provided protection for a Real Madrid defence which looked less than convincing at times in the early stages.
His offensive threat was crystal clear too. It was his header to David Alaba which found the Austrian in space to convert and give Real Madrid the lead. It was a complete performance from a complete player, and one which convinced any doubters that he was still crucial to Real Madrid.