REAL MADRID

The ‘Casemiro syndrome’

Real Madrid won thirteen consecutive games with the Brazilian in the side but have drawn three in a row in his absence.

The ‘Casemiro syndrome’
Chema Díaz

Numbers, like hips, don’t lie. With Casemiro in the starting line-up, Zidane’s Madrid were an ultra-consistent side that racked up win after win. The Brazilian started 13 of the 16 LaLiga wins in a row that equalled Pep Guardiola’s run in 2010-11, missing out only in less high-profile games against Rayo Vallecano, Getafe and Osasuna. Zidane found in him the safety net his team always needed. A hawk recovering possession and a lifeline covering the flanks.

Real Madrid are in free fall without Casemiro

But since Casemiro limped off after just 20 minutes against Espanyol, Real Madrid have been in free fall. They haven’t managed to win a single game. Three consecutive draws against Villarreal (1-1), Las Palmas (2-2) and Borussia Dortmund (2-2). Three matches in which they’ve conceded five goals (almost two per game), exposing for all to see the trouble that Toni Kroos has had stepping in for Casemiro. The German is having a bad time of it, as are the full-backs.

Toni Kroos has failed to impress in a holding midfield role since Casemiro's injury

Nobody except the Brazilian has made the position their own

Carlo Ancelotti tried Sergio Ramos out in the holding midfield role two seasons ago but abandoned the experiment after things went wrong in Turin against Juventus. He’d also tried the same tactic in Barcelona at the Camp Nou, which also failed. Going back even further, Jose Mourinho used Pepe in the same position to little or no avail during that infamous ‘storm’ of clasicos back in early 2012. Only Casemiro has played well enough to make that role his own. Now that he’s injured, however, there appears to be no substitute in the squad.

Casemiro is the only player to have made the holding midfield role his own in recent years, says Tomás Roncero

Dortmund, a statistical nightmare

The draw against Dortmund in midweek was also worrying from a statistical point of view. Borussia had 20 attempts on goal, 10 of which were on target. No team has managed so many since Zidane took charge back in January. The most any other team had managed until this week was 10 attempts and 6 on target (Wolfsburg). At the Westfalenstadion, Zidane’s side were also limited to just 41% possession, out-passed 574 passes to 359 and out-attacked, the Germans registering 82 attacks to Madrid’s 27. Casemiro can't come back soon enough!