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[av_heading heading=’Statistical analysis of Casemiro impact on Real Madrid performance’ tag=’h1′ style=’blockquote modern-quote modern-centered’ size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=’custom-color-heading’ custom_font=’#ffffff’][/av_heading]

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Author: Mattia Fontana

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The demanding Santiago Bernabeu fans are often divided over his importance. But Casemiro’s contribution to the cause of a Real Madrid that is astonishingly back in the race for the Liga and in the Champions League semi-finals can be anything but overlooked.

On a team nurtured by offensive players, his presence is more essential than ever to provide balance to the defensive phase. And not only. Because the Brazilian knows how to use the ball. If there were any doubts, just consider that in the current Champions League he is ranked ninth midfielder in completed passes (87%) out of more than 500 balls played.

This is a skill that goes with his main characteristic, being the midfielder with the highest number of duels won in matches (67, with no less than 22 tackles) and the fifth ranked for defensive plays (43).

More statistical proof lies in Real Madrid’s overall “plus/minus”. With him on the pitch, the Merengues have a 75% victory rating and 69.5% without him. Casemiro’s presence implies a lower number of goals scored per match (from 2.91 with him to 2.75 without) but also a lower number of goals conceded: from 0.91 to 0.625.

Here is Casemiro’s unique quality in the Casa Blanca balance.
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Casemiro’s most obvious contribution is the defensive coverage he provides in addition to the coverage of the two centre backs. In this case, Pepe allows the opponent to overtake him in an offensive transition against Manchester City. Casemiro sees the danger and cuts off the adversary’s trajectory to obstruct the counter-attack.
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However, Casemiro’s contribution is not only coverage, but it is also active and connected to the pressure applied at midfield. When Kroos and Modric are unable to go after the ball carrier and Real is running the risk of a turnover, he skilfully closes the gaps in a position farther forward. Even at the cost of committing a tactical foul like on this occasion.
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In the build-up phase, Casemiro is useful for freeing up Modric and Kroos’ creativity, allowing them to move between the lines and alternate their line-up. But, thanks to his technical qualities, he can also be useful in taking off pressure. In this specific example, Modric risks losing the ball because the opponents have him double-teamed. Casemiro, on the other hand, is open and the Croatian is able to pass the ball back to him in order to start the play over.
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This is the difference between Zidane‘s Real and the one managed by his two predecessors, Benitez and Ancelotti. If the overall attitude of the current team reminds you of the one during the time when the Italian was on the bench (it’s no coincidence that Zidane was his assistant in the 2013-14 season), the changes in the defensive phase are easy to see. From the Spaniard’s 4-2-3-1 formation to Ancelotti’s 4-4-2, Real lines up 4-1-4-1. Credit for this goes to a hardcore midfielder like Casemiro.
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Mattia Fontana
Mattia Fontana, Eurosport Italia editor.
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