MADRID, SPAIN – OCTOBER 05: Casemiro of Real Madrid reacts during the Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Granada CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 05, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
He has arguably been Real Madrid’s best player this season with both his club and country lacking something whenever he is missing.
For Tite’s five-time World Cup winners Brazil, this was no better seen than in the humbling 2-1 World Cup quarter final defeat against Belgium in Russia last year. Ruled out through suspension, an exposing of aging stand-in Fernandinho left Kevin De Bruyne to fire at will and forced his Manchester City teammate into a temporary retirement fueled by racial abuse.
Casemiro led the Seleção to their first major trophy in 12 years this summer, but the hosts were almost knocked out in the last eight in successive years – this time by Paraguay on penalties – when he picked up too many yellow cards in the group stage and his absence was confirmed.
Returning to a Madrid in transition, where Zinedine Zidane hopes to reinvent the wheel in his second stint at the Bernabéu, the former São Paulo FC academy product has been more involved than ever for the La Liga giants and his country leading MARCA to brand him ‘Don Essential’.
Lucky not to be red carded for playacting last week in a 4-2 win over Granada that kept Los Blancos top before the international break, Casemiro has also been outstanding in games. This includes the 2-0 win over Osasuna, which saw them originally reach the summit while the midfield enforcer provided a stunning long-range assist that allowed compatriot new boy Rodrygo mark his dream debut with a golazo.
As has been highlighted this weekend, of the 1,170 minutes there have been possible to play for Real Madrid and Brazil in 2019/2020, Casemiro has completed an astounding 1,114 of them. No less than 95.4%, then.
By the Catalonian press, concerns were voiced about Arthur completing a ‘senseless’ 13,500 mile trip to Singapore as part of the Chevrolet-sponsored Brasil Global Tour. It is one that Casemiro has embarked on too, again completing the full game against Senegal as a clearly-fatigued Arthur was criticised by the press in their shared homeland for appearing absent without leave on the pitch. Now, compounded with the overall duties Casemiro has faced, the same fears over his physical well-being are beginning to emerge from the media in the Spanish capital.
For today Casemiro could again play the duration of today’s with Nigeria before heading back to Spain. With Toni Kroos out injured, his elder Luka Modric featuring for Croatia and the youthful Fede Valverde not due until the start of the weekend, will Casemiro be in the first XI away at Mallorca on Saturday night? And then yet again in the Champions League in Istanbul in a must-win showdown with Galatasaray midweek? How about four days later at the Camp Nou in El Clasico where defeat could mean bitter rivals Barcelona usurping his side in La Liga?
As essential he is and impeccable his athleticism may be, the ‘Tank’, as he is fondly nicknamed, is at risk of running out of gas and it might not be pretty when Zidane and Tite’s reliability on him exposed at a great cost.
When such a dependence on Alisson from Jurgen Klopp and the Brazil manager reached an ugly conclusion at the beginning of the current term, the shot stopper was ruled out for two months. Though the Selecao may survive their November friendlies without him, Zidane simply might not.