Real Madrid: Casemiro in danger of missing return leg against Atalanta
The Brazilian is one booking away from suspension - if he receives a yellow card in Bergamo, he will miss the return leg in Madrid.
Casemiro will be treading a fine line against Atalanta tomorrow night. The Brazilian is on two yellow cards in the Champions League, so if he his booked in Bergamo, he will automatically be suspended for the return leg at the Di Stéfano on 16 March. That would be a problem for Zidane, who would have to find a substitute for his key holding midfielders against one of the most attacking sides in the tournament. Casemiro is also now the team's second top goal scorer with six goals, just behind Karim Benzema.
It's not the first time he has been in such a delicate situation. Casemiro is used to playing when booked or on the verge of facing suspension, and is quite capable of controlling himself when necessary. He has been on two bookings since Matchday 3 and came on as a sub for the final 30 minutes against Inter Milan in the next game, then played the full 90 minutes against Borussia Mönchengladbach. In LaLiga, he travelled to Sevilla on four yellow cards. If he goes in the book in the next game against Real Sociedad, he will miss the derby against Atlético Madrid.
Last season, he played four consecutive league games while on four bookings, and was only rested ahead of El Clásico. In 2019-2020, he played 90 minutes of Madrid's meeting with Levante in danger of being suspended for the clash with Barcelona the following week. He got through that game without going into the book.
No natural substitute for Casemiro
Casemiro, who turns 29 today, has spent several years at Madrid without anyone who can cover for him when he is out. Zizou has tried out several substitutes, but none of them have performed as well as the Brazilian in that role. One of the most used was Toni Kroos who, while being adept at conducting the ball out, doesn't have the same defensive qualities as his team mates. And besides, with the current injury crisis at Madrid, Zidane cannot afford to lose any of his available players.
Another player who has filled in when Casemiro has been out is Fede Valverde, but he is currently recovering from injury. The Uruguayan has been sidelined for almost a month with a muscular problem, although he is now training out on the pitch in Valdebebas, apart from the rest of the squad. Medical staff hope he will be able to return in a couple of weeks' time.
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