Why Brazil’s Casemiro is vital to their World Cup hopes


Casemiro had just walked off the stage with his Player of the Match award. The Brazilian midfielder scored a stunning winner in their 1-0 win above Switzerland In his second group-stage match, however, he dodged any individual praise, instead spreading the praise throughout the team.

it’s part of BrazilTeam dynamic here in Qatar: The strength of the team is greater than any individual performance. But coach Tite allowed himself to go off-message for a moment when asked neymar – who watched the performance from his hotel bed while recovering from illness and an ankle injury – was right when he tweeted that Casemiro was “the best defensive midfielder in the world.”

“I usually don’t comment on other people’s opinions, but this time I will allow myself: I agree with Neymar,” Tite said. “He’s the best.”

Talk to Brazilian fans here in Qatar and if you ask them who their best player is, they’ll probably say Neymar or Vinicius Jr., But ask him who his most important player is, and the answer comes back unanimously as Casemiro. In this era of young midfielders — the choice of where enzo fernandez, Jude Bellingham, Gavi And pedi All have won worldwide acclaim – it is the 30-year-old veteran who is setting the standard for players in his position. The world-class players on his own team are in awe of him; The veterans who helped Brazil earn five stars each on their jerseys are equally impressed.

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“Leadership, technique, defensively – everything about him is impressive,” former Brazil midfielder Zinho, who was part of the 1994 team, tells ESPN. “He’s a reference for all of our players in this position.”

If Brazil earn their sixth star in the World Cup final on 18 December, Casemiro will be a big reason behind their success.

Casemiro’s Quantitative Properties

César Sampaio can help explain Casemiro’s role. Sampaio, part of Brazil’s coaching staff in Qatar Seleção over a decade which included his feature in the 1998 World Cup.

“On the defensive side, Casemiro is the reference point for the line of four,” he said at a press conference. “He manages, as in the first ‘filter.’ In offence, he provides little support for other midfield team-mates and has a medium kicking quality. [a shot from outside the box], which is the difference in its position. For me, he is the reference point for world football in his position at the moment.”

Casemiro is like a “vacuum” – according to his former Brazil teammate Filipe Luís – because he clears out everything in midfield. Casemiro mocked it at a press conference here, saying it was his old real madrid Manager Carlo Ancelotti called him “the firefighter” because he “put out the fire” for his team.

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Former Brazilian midfielder Paulo Silas said, “He is exceptional in all the fundamental aspects of the game – such as heading, using both feet, he can tackle, shoot from outside the box, he can also make assists.” ” 1986 and 1990 World Cups. “But above all, he always performs in the big games.”

While the likes of Neymar, richardson and Vinicius was pulling South Korea Apart from the 4–1 win in the Round of 16, Zinho spent the match watching Casemiro. “He seems to be everywhere, you know?” Zinho tells ESPN. “He has the physical condition and he carries himself very well. As I said before, he always read right, very well.”

In a team where so much attention is focused on the Brazilian’s offensive talent, Zinho points to the role Casemiro can play. “The ball always goes to him first, people forget that,” he says. “He is the balance of the team. He is always in the right place, at the right time, at the right time to touch the ball – not only tackle the opponent but also create some plays with possession.

“But positionally he’s very good; he sees things earlier than others. He rarely misses a tackle; he’s not positioned badly, so, where the ball is going to him, He sees the trick before it happens. It should happen.” It is very difficult to face such a player: he is well positioned, he gets there before you. Even when facing an attacker like Richardson or Vinicius, he is already positioning himself for the second ball, you know? For me, so far, he has been the best player in Brazil.”

But Casemiro is also a threat at the other end. He scored the winner against Switzerland with a beautiful half-volley — curling into the top corner — while Serbia In the match he fired a long range shot against the post. Those trademark thunderbolts are part of the Casemiro plan, as Tite explains: “It’s a player who acts as a central player but he [also] The element of surprise that can be seen from behind. When he comes from behind, he can surprise.”

But in such a dangerous role as “firefighter”, he also managed to stay on the right side of the law at the World Cup. “He could bring the other team’s best player into a clamp without being penalized with a yellow card,” says Silas. “He’s a guy that everybody loves, referees and opponents too, they respect him a lot.”

Pablo Zabaleta confronts him Argentina Conscientious and well aware of Casemiro’s qualities. “He is a special player, a complete midfielder and gives them balance,” Zabaleta told ESPN. “He can be aggressive on the field, but he’s very smart, especially with those tactical fouls in the opposite half. He’s also brilliant between the lines, and he’s great at reading the game.”

Casemiro’s leadership and mindset

Casemiro’s nickname in the Brazil team is “Casaão” – originally translating to “big Casemiro”, a sign of affection, which refers to his stature, but also appearance. While the captain of Brazil Thiago SilvaCasemiro is one of the leaders with marquinhos, Daniel Alves, Alison and Neymar.

Neymar is technical, Silva and Alves are the most experienced, but Casemiro leads by example and players look up to him with respect, especially from his old Real Madrid days. rodrigoVinicius and ader militao,

“When you try to say something, mainly to the youngest ones, you have to be careful and respect the player’s sensibilities,” Casemiro said on November 26 at Brazil’s training base on his own leadership skills. said about. “You have to stay calm so they can be themselves at the World Cup. If they’re here because they’re brave, fearless, you want them to do what they do here with us for their clubs. You’ve got to focus Must stay and do.” What are they used to?”

Away from Brazil, his form here has come as no surprise to those who know him well at Real Madrid. According to ESPN sources, he played there from 2013 to 2022 and was well-liked at the club. He was called [Real Madrid president] Florentino Pérez’s “son” in the changing room, and was so admired by the board because he never caused trouble, and was always ready to help the club in any way he could, as the new leader of the team. had come to the fore. Sergio Ramos Left. He was a father figure to the young players in the team, and was in charge of them to win five Champions League titles between 2014 and 2022.

“To be giant, as he is, you need to be humble,” says Silas. “A lot of players haven’t been able to do well at Real Madrid because they weren’t humble, they didn’t know how to manage anxiety, with the greatness and the glamor that comes with playing for Real Madrid. Casemiro knows that. understands something. He.”

manchester united Now benefiting from the Casemiro factor. United had followed Netherlands defensive midfielder frankie de jong for that summer, but when it became clear he was not going to join, he looked at alternatives. Casemiro had long been on their list, but those inside the corridors of Old Trafford were not convinced they would be able to pry him away from Real Madrid.

But there were reports in Spain that Real Madrid are looking to phase out the veteran to make room for a new €80m signing aurelian tchoumeni, The reality was this — Ancelotti told Casemiro that he would still be his No. 1 choice for the big games, but he would not start every game. They wanted to keep him. He started his Super Cup win Eintracht Frankfurt and came off the bench in their Laliga The opener against Almeria and it looked like Casemiro would stay. But then United offered €70 million – and Real Madrid reluctantly accepted – believing he was 30 and would have no more years at the highest level.

United were recovering from their 4-0 collapse BrentfordBut the next day Casemiro contacted the club and said he was desperate to join, eager to help the team get back on track.

When Casemiro arrived, United prioritized improving his condition so that he could manage the rigors of the Premier League. Relocating countries is tough, but sources say United were pleasantly surprised that Casemiro threw himself into it, setting up equipment in his home, and helping his family relocate while focusing on his fitness plan. Trusted the club to do. New United boss Erik ten Haag called him “the cement between the stones”.

“He’s just arrived at Manchester United, he’s still getting used to and adapting to the team,” says Silas. “But he is going to be irreplaceable at United, as he was at Real Madrid and he is in the Brazil team today.”

Discovery of its first star, and Brazil’s sixth

It’s testament to Casemiro’s ability, that liverpool‘s fabinho watching from the bench. “When you have players like me and Casemiro, it is good for Brazil and Tite,” Fabinho explained to ESPN before the match against them. cameroon, “Since I’ve been here [to the national team] More often, Casemiro always played at the highest level. But, when I played, I did well, it shows the coach that he has great options.”

Fabinho was one of Brazil’s best players against Cameroon but will have to settle for a spot on the bench against them Croatia, “I think it’s funny because Fabinho will be the starter for almost every other team in this World Cup,” Zinho says. “But he immediately reserved, for me, the best defender midfielder in the world today, which is Casemiro. So far, he is the best player in the Brazilian team.

“Casemiro takes great care of himself, he’s a great midfielder and he’s still in this great moment. I’ve never followed him like I’ve done this time at the World Cup and I’m not surprised, but, I Impressed by that.” I see him as a point of balance in the Brazilian team: as a player who defends or creates possession which is incredible from one man.

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Silas sees Casemiro as “an indispensable player for SeleçãoAnd to highlight that importance, he recounts the Brazilian campaign four years earlier and where it went wrong. Back in Russia they ran belgium in the quarter-finals, but had to play without Casemiro who was suspended.

“He’s a leader and we missed him a lot against Belgium in 2018,” says Silas. “We really felt his absence.”

But Brazil will include him in their squad for Croatia on Friday, just three matches away from adding a sixth star to their famous yellow jersey. And if they get it, a big part will be with Casemiro.

“He knows how to make plays, he knows how to score goals but he’s a very simple person,” says Silas. “He’s like a father to me Seleção,

With additional reporting by Thiago Cara, Rob Dawson and Rodrigo Faiz

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