'Casemiro the world's best defensive midfielder' - Gilberto Silva

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The Real Madrid star has been lauded by a former Selecao icon ahead of the World Cup getting underway in Russia

Gilberto Silva has pinpointed Real Madrid star Casemiro as the best defensive midfielder in world football, and believes he will be key to Brazil's chances of winning the World Cup in Russia.

The Selecao face Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in Russia, but their minimum expectation will be reaching the last four of the competition.

Casemiro is one of the more under-appreciated members of Brazil's squad, with the likes of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus all likely to garner more headlines in the build-up to the tournament.

Former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva believes Casemiro is crucial to the side's gameplan, and expects him to excel under manager Tite.

"For me, Casemiro is one of the best, if not the best in the defensive midfield position," the former Brazil midfielder told Sky Sports.

"Since my retirement all the players that have played in this role for Brazil have played differently. With all respect to all of the other players that have played there, their style was completely different. At one point we had Paulinho playing with Ramires and they have the same style of play.

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"Neither of them played in the holding midfield role. However, now, with Casemiro, they have someone who holds the position and protects the back four. It frees up the attacking players.

"It also frees up Paulinho. He can attack more and the combination between the two players works well. Casemiro's role gives Paulinho the freedom to move forward and that's good for Brazil because he's very good when he gets himself into the box to get on the end of crosses."

Casemiro made 48 appearances for Real in all competitions this season, and played the full 90 minutes in his side's 3-1 Champions League final victory over Liverpool.

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