Gilette Brasil Global Tour

The Brazilian midfielder played his way into the first team and starred in the Champions League final on Saturday - now he hopes to do the same for the Selecao at Copa America

Fundamental. That is how everyone at Real Madrid will remember Casemiro’s contribution to the club’s record 11th European crown.

Saturday night’s penalty shoot-out victory over city rivals Atletico capped what has been a memorable season for the 24-year-old. Now his attentions will turn to the USA, the Copa America, and becoming as important to Dunga as he is to Zinedine Zidane.

He broke into the team at the world’s biggest club. The biggest national team is next on the list.

 
"He’s never protested when he hasn't played, and he's been given his opportunity to play for Madrid," Real and Brazil colleague Marcelo said ahead of the final.

"He has huge potential. He'll very soon be doing much more than he is now. For us, it's very important to have a fit Casemiro."

It was very important. Casemiro was the team’s axis at San Siro, providing balance, carrying the responsibility for the midfield trio from his pivot position by bridging any gaps left in the transitions between defence and attack.



The kid who emerged at Sao Paulo as a prestigious but wayward teenager who caused concern over his defensive abilities is long gone. Today Casemiro stands as an undisputed member of the European champions’ first-team.

He has also carving out a reputation as a big-game player, with perhaps his previous best performance of the season arriving at Camp Nou in the Clasico victory over Barcelona: his tight, disciplined marking offering a springboard from which the Madrid attack could launch forward.

It was a similar story in the latter stages of the road to the Champions League final. Prior to the all-Madrid showdown in Milan, Atleti coach Diego Simeone singled out Casemiro for praise.



"For the balance of the side, Casemiro is their most important player, certainly,” Simeone said. “He allows them to regroup better if they lose the ball and maintain their offensive potential."

He did exactly that, winning a game-best eight tackles. He made seven clearances and completed 91 per cent of his 65 passes on the night.

Casemiro is well worth his place in the Brazil squad next month. He had to fight his way into the Real Madrid team will now do the same for his national team, where Corinthians’ Elias appears ahead of him in the pecking order.

But Casemiro has come of age. He has enchanted Zidane and Simeone. It is hard to imagine Dunga can resist his charms for much longer.