Real Madrid had won the La Liga competition for this season when they collected 87 points, five more than Barcelona with 82. Although the team was at the second position in the league table before the breakdown because of the pandemic, Real Madrid won all of their league matches after the competition resumed.
In general, this season has emerged significantly, the performance of Carlos Casemiro was very effective to help his team win the league.
Through this tactical analysis, we will try to review what the player has provided tactically and statistically to his team this season.
Casemiro positioning outline
Casemiro is mainly present in most of Real Madrid’s matches, as he is the main centre pivot player in front of the two defensive centre-backs in the 4-3-3 system, or even when relying on the 4-2-3-1 system, whatever his team tactics, he covers horizontally in the middle third of the field, and in sometimes he comes forward for offensive support, as we will see.
Here we can observe Casemiro’s positioning within the Real Madrid system, with or without the ball, as it exists between the defence lines and the attacking midfielders, as a link to facilitate the ideas of transition from one side to another, whether from defensive to offensive or vice versa.
Here we can see the area Casemiro moves between his team’s penalty area and the opponent’s penalty area, both with or without the ball, where he has a progressive run of up to 0.65 per game, so what is required of him is executed accurately as he covers most of the space in the middle third area, whether in build-up or trying to take back the possession of the ball.
We can see his effect clearly when we talk about the defensive style in case the ball is lost to the opposing team.
Casemiro has a very important defence style in the way Real Madrid played under Zinédine Zidane, as he is the last line of defence before reaching the Real Madrid backline because of his ability to move either vertically forward or backward and even move horizontally.
It is distinguished by his superior ability to win duels, whether on the ground or even in the air, as it has a percentage of 60.43% during this season in the Spanish League, and when we talk about success on this point, it must be taken into consideration the way it moves and its timing to rise to overcome its competitors as we will notice in the next example.
Here we can see when the ball was with the goalkeeper of Athletic Club, the positioning of Casemiro like third-back between Sergio Ramos and Eder Militao, to make the width of the defensive line and cut the ball lanes toward Raul Garcia.
Here we can notice his success against Athletic Bilbao in the air duels because of his ability to jump in time, along with his awareness of where he is positioned, helped him pass the ball head towards Thibaut Courtois and spoil the host’s attack.
Casemiro, one of the best players in blocking the opponent’s ball, whether it was shooting or passing, was blocked the ball 84 times in LaLiga this season, including 13 shots, one ball on target and there were 70 balls from passing.
The right positioning is an essential facility in Casemiro performance, especially in the first third as it becomes the first line of defence in that case when the ball is in the possession of the opponent as we will notice in the next example.
Here we can see him blocking Granada player shot toward Thibaut Courtois when he made the decision to press on him to close the space in front of his penalty area.
The Brazilian player is the third successful man in the Spanish competition at recovering the ball with 12.48 per game in recoveries, besides that he had 6.46 of Counterpressing recoveries for his team, and we will see his ability to disrupt opponent attacks when he cuts the ball in the last third of Real Madrid.
Here, when the Granada team cut the ball from Real Madrid in the attacking third of the capital team with an attempt to play a quick counter-attack, we see Casemiro’s focus on the player who owns the ball without looking at the players moving in a vertical way, in an attempt to prevent the front ball.
Here we see Casemiro’s success in intercepting the ball from the player by pressing it, which made it easier for Real Madrid players to return and defensive positioning, especially after Luca Modric implemented the tactical foul.
Complete the talk about the defensive style we can address how Casemiro moved in the defensive situation when one of the players of the defensive full-backs moving up
Casemiro covering the full-backs
One of Casemiro’s strengths is horizontal coverage of the spaces that Dani Carvajal and Marcelo leave as soon as one of them move up to the middle of offensive thirds. He covers these spaces and blocks the opponent’s players before they move in the half-spaces.
Casemiro is the perfect player in offering coverage when one of the defensive players leaves his position to go forward, as we will notice during the next examples.
Here we note that Casemiro moved quickly to his team’s penalty area to cover the area left by Sergio Ramos, who had gone to the flank to cover the rise of Marcelo and receive a cross from Athletic Bilbao before reaching the striker.
Here, when Real Madrid were applying high pressure to the Athletic defence to prevent the Basque team from building play from the back areas, we notice Casemiro seeing the right side with Dani Carvajal in a 2v1 situation alongside his willingness to advance and put pressure on the Athletic Club player so his teammate wouldn’t get overloaded.
Here we can see when Dani Carvajal moved up to press on the full-back of Athletic Bilbao, Casemiro goes horizontally to cover the space on the right flank.
Casemiro is among the most important pieces in the defence system of Real Madrid but he also had offensive tasks that clearly had an effect on some matches and ultimately led to many points for the team in LaLiga.
Casemiro’s attacking contribution
Casemiro had four goals and three assists this season with Real Madrid at the Spanish league, with 2.84 (xG) expected goal, we can see it’s big for a defensive midfielder, but it was Zidane who gave him some attacking duties in the first place.
Moving in the blind area behind the full-backs, or moving vertically to take the place of Karim Benzema as the centre-forward in the penalty area of the opponent are his attacking strengths beside his positioning at set-pieces, as we will see in the next example.
Here we see Casemiro stationed on the right side of the offensive line while the ball is in Marcelo’s possession to stretch the pitch while waiting for the diagonal ball inside the area.
Here we see Casemiro in the centre of the striker’s position after he moved horizontally among the defenders of Espanyol and found the gap from which he managed to penetrate the opposing team, receive Benzema’s ball and score the winning goal.
Casemiro’s vertical movements made him an attacking option for Real Madrid, because of his ability or his heading style as we will see in the next example.
Here we can notice his position as an outright striker when the ball was on the right side to fill the space left by Benzema who in turn went to the far post, making Casimero the closest player to receiving the cross. This, of course, ended up happening and he was able to score the goal.
And we’ll complete talking about his abilities in attack by quickly analysing aeiral duels in the offensive situation. We can see that he can both score and assist this way and has even accumulated an expected assists (xA) value up to 0.97 this season.
Here he has positioned himself well in the corner kick that allowed him to assist the goal for Ramos on the far post after he passed the ball header towards the team leader at the right time.
We can see in that analysis that the player is able to do many things, whether in the defensive or offensive part and the stages of transition between them, but we can notice a potential issue in his performances as well.
His potential issue
A possible problem with Casemiro’s performance is a loss of focus which results in late decision making, which causes some issues in Real Madrid’s defensive third.
Losing focus made Casemiro make mistakes that led to goals against Real Madrid, as we will notice in the following examples.
Here we notice his delay in passing the ball, either to the front or to the side, causing him to lose possession under the pressure of the player of Granada, who managed to start a quick counter-attack and his team scored a goal because of the Brazilian’s mistake.
While here we can see Casemiro’s problem with Osasuna’s individual control during the corner kick that made the team concede a goal.
Casemiro is the main piece in Real Madrid, and it becomes dangerous for his team at some moments when he loses his focus, but these things are normal. The player cannot play the whole match with the same pattern of focus, but Casemiro’s position is sensitive and even the minor lapses can be deadly.
In that scout report, we tried to showcase Casemiro’s positioning on the pitch with his defensive style and ability to help the defensive line to counter competitors’ attacks. On top of that, we showed when and how he covers the full-backs moving up, and alongside his attacking contribution, we highlighted his potential issue.