Use PlayerTek’s power output, distance and heat map metrics to play like Real Madrid and Brazil’s midfield star…
Prior to Juventus’ 4-1 defeat in last season’s Champions League final to Real Madrid, Massimiliano Allegri raised a few eyebrows when he said Casemiro was the opposition’s most important player. Cristiano Ronaldo’s eventual brace may have since caused the Italian to review his argument, but the Brazilian’s performance in Cardiff certainly didn’t hurt such a suggestion. It wasn’t the first time he had impressed on Europe’s biggest stage either, as just a year before that the 25-year-old was pivotal to Los Blancos’ ‘unidecima’ victory against local rivals Atletico Madrid.
Although there’s more to Casemiro than just a rich tapestry of silverware, his story encapsulates the meaning of patience, hard work and determination. Rewind 18 months, and Casemiro was caught in the limbo many talented players find themselves in when surrounded by a galaxy of Galaticos. Bought back from Porto but used in the reserves, it was sink or swim for a player who had struggled for game time under Rafael Benitez when the chance came to impress the newly appointed Zinedine Zidane. The opportunity was one he soon grabbed with both hands.
Yet the term ‘Galactico’ doesn’t apply to Casemiro – in fact, that point is a total summarisation of his play. Simple although fundamental, the midfielder provides the platform for the likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Ronaldo to perform on. These players will often hog the Spanish headlines the morning after, and while Casemiro is the sort of player you wouldn’t notice when he’s on the pitch, you can immediately tell when he’s absent. The unsung hero’s understated example is something every player can learn a thing or two from.
A complete juxtaposition to the stereotypical ‘samba style’ showmanship associated with Brazilians, Casemiro’s diligent approach could be perceived as a product of his upbringing in the industrial city of Sao Jose dos Campos. Lodged in the Paraiba Valley between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janerio, his hometown’s hardworking culture is reflected in his game.
Perhaps there’s no better example of the midfielder’s willingness to labour than the amount of distance he covers in 90 minutes. Casemiro will be the first to admit he’s not as technically gifted as some of the players he shares the dressing room with, although he makes up for that by doing the dirty work others can be accused of neglecting.
Known to cover every blade of grass in the Bernabéu twice over, it can seem like Casemiro is an omnipresent being. To add this to your game, you’ll need to ensure your hitting between nine and 13 kilometres each match. Keep an eye on how often your reaching the desired mark too, as it’s the best indicator to how fit you are.
Casemiro is the linchpin of Zidane’s 4-3-3 formation. Acting as the pivot between defence and midfield, the Brazilian provides much-needed stability to a midfield trio that places emphasis on the creativity of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. These two are often the catalysts of attacking moves while full backs are expected to get forward and provide width as the wingers drift inside and carve out shooting opportunities. This leaves Casemiro as the reference point in the middle, but perhaps more importantly, as insurance should possession be lost and a counter attack breaks.
Without the ball, Modric and Kroos press the opposition while the Brazilian screens his defence, makes interceptions and looks to feed those in front of him as quickly as possible. Casemiro does have a range of passing and has shown he shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to shooting opportunities, but offence is not what he can pride himself on.
If you’re going to play like the Real Madrid man, you’ve got to have discipline. It can be easy to neglect defensive duties when your team flies forward, but you’ve got to keep your head and hold your position. You won’t see Casemiro breaking into the box unless he’s covered, so make sure that should a counter be on the cards, you’re in the right place at the right time. PlayerTek’s heat map provides the best positional insight into a performance, so your game should show a blur of colour around the centre circle.
One of the finest to have ever played the game, Zidane knows the importance of someone like the Brazilian. When Claude Makelele, a midfielder of a similar mould to Casemiro, was sold to make room for David Beckham, the Frenchman quipped: ”Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?”
In Casemiro, the Real Madrid boss has his engine. Seemingly happy to sacrifice self recognition for the good of the team, he’s earned the respect of the notoriously hard to please Madristas with his commitment, aggression and workrate. It speaks volumes that he’s held in such high regard, as even Ronaldo has been subjected to the fickle boo boys of the Bernabéu.
But what good is a sports car that doesn’t last for an entire journey? To make this role your own, you’ll need to be shuttling around midfield until the final whistle. PlayerTek’s power output could hold the key to maximising your full potential as a defensive midfielder. The metric records how much effort you’re putting into each half, so you can see if you’re giving your all right up to the last kick of the game. The second half will obviously be lower than the first 45 minutes as fatigue sets in, but getting these two as even as possible should be your goal.