REAL MADRID

Zidane learns his lesson with Casemiro

Zidane rested Casemiro in Kiev, and Madrid lost. He put the Brazilian in for Sevilla at the weekend and Los Blancos came away with all three points.

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Real Madrid have had a very shaky start to the 2020/21 campaign, both domestically and in Europe. Zinedine Zidane's men have only managed to win in one (16.66%) of the six games this season without Casemiro in the starting eleven.

Zidane still has no natural replacement for Casemiro in the squad and was faced with a difficult decision last Tuesday in the Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk. The French coach became so concerned about Borussia Mönchengladbach's visit on Wednesday that he neglected what was in front of him, a Shakhtar side who had already surprised him at home on Matchday one of the group stage. After the 2-0 defeat in Ukraine, the club understood Zidane's decision to leave the defensive midfielder out, however, they did not agree with his chosen eleven. Casemiro returned to the fold for Madrid's tricky trip to Sevilla on Saturday.

Casemiro the key

If Casemiro received a yellow card against Sevilla on Saturday, he would have missed the Madrid derby with Atlético Madrid on December 12 in Valdebebas. Zidane took the risk, knowing how key a win and Casemiro's presence would mean in Seville. The Brazilian had five ball recoveries over the 90 minutes in the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, protecting his defence, and allowing Madrid to come away with an important clean sheet.

Without the power of the consistent No 14 in the centre of the pitch, Madrid look lost. In the 0-0 draw gainst Real Sociedad, at the start of the campaign, Casemiro played 21 minutes. They lost 1-0 at home to Cádiz, a game that he played only 45 minutes of. Due to the coronavirus, he did not feature in the 4-1 defeat to Valencia and the 1-1 draw away to Villarreal. There is only one exception to the bad Madrid run without Casemiro: the 2-0 win in Milan over Inter. He came on with 32 minutes remaining on the clock to see the game out. For this reason, for the big tests coming up this week, Mönchengladbach on Wednesday in the Champions League and Atlético Madrid in the league on Saturday, experience shows that Zidane should go with everything, with Casemiro at the heart of it all.