La Liga giants Real Madrid experienced a turbulent campaign in 2015-16 which had its fair share of ups and downs.
From the appointment of Rafael Benitez, to reported fall-outs with the squad which eventually lead to his sacking at the turn of the year, and Zinedine Zidane taking over proceedings, it's fair to say it was an eventful season at the Bernabeu.
Despite starting the season in an abysmal manner, Los Blancos succeeded in redeeming themselves, salvaging a commendable second-place in the league, and securing their 11th Champions League title.
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All headlines were dominated by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, along with Luka Modric and even Sergio Ramos, but one player in particular truly came of age, and that was Casemiro.
The Brazilian midfielder might not be a player who would steal the headlines on most occasions, or be regarded in the same pedestal as his teammates, but in reality, his presence in the first team is just as important.
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A tenacious defensive-minded midfielder, Casemiro brought balance to a squad that was thoroughly lacking during the early part of last campaign.
Seen as a fringe player under Benitez, the Spanish manager’s tactics backfired, which included a humiliating 4-0 defeat to arch-rivals Barcelona at home back in November.
Since Zidane’s arrival, Casemiro was installed at the heart of midfield to orchestrate the game as the pivot.
He even earned praise from Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone ahead of the Champions League final at the San Siro.
Marca quoted the Argentine coach saying: “It’s amazing the work Zidane’s done; he’s taken the decision to rely on Casemiro, which has changed the team.”
“For the balance of the side, Casemiro is their most important player, certainly. He allows them to regroup better if they lose the ball and maintain their offensive potential.”
Stats to back it up
The 24-year-old provides brilliant cover to centre-halves Sergio Ramos and Pepe, which enables the full-backs to surge forward at will, joining the attack.
The most notable aspect of his play is to regain possession from the opposition, staying on his feet rather than committing to slide tackles.
His statistics are proof of his genius on the pitch. WhoScored.com claim Casemiro averaged 3.4 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1.7 clearances per game, as well as having an 87.4% pass success rate from an average of 49.6 passes per game.
The South American ace is also astute in aerial duels, as he won all six during the Champions League final against their local rivals, alongside completing 56 of 65 passes in the entirety of the match.
The unselfish nature of his work with a disciplined approach makes him the trump card for his French manager at Santiago Bernabeu.
It is time the footballing world admire and recognise players of similar profile who often get sidelined by the star names in the squad.
Casemiro is contracted with the Spanish heavyweights until 2021, as per Transfermarkt.com, and if he continues having the same impact like last season, the Brazilian is surely to remain in the capital for the long haul.
Why do defensive midfielders go under the radar so much in modern football? Leave us YOUR thoughts in the comment section below!
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