thumbnail Hello,
Casemiro shows Real Madrid what they're missing with Porto masterclass

Casemiro shows Real Madrid what they're missing with Porto masterclass

Getty Images

COMMENT: The midfielder on loan at Porto from the Bernabeu was outstanding in his side's win over Basel on a night when his parent club came up woefully short against Schalke

By Peter Staunton

Real Madrid might well be looking for ways to improve their team following their narrow Champions League escape against an ordinary Schalke side - with their midfield area in particular looking too static and timid at the Bernabeu. 

Over at Estadio do Dragao, one of their own, Casemiro, was busy confirming himself as one of the breakout stars of the competition this season. 

Porto's tie against Basel was already virtually decided with the hosts 2-0 ahead before the hour mark, but Casemiro's long-range free-kick was as good as Juninho or Sinisa Mihajlovic could manage in their prime. 

Real have enough options on dead balls, despite Cristiano Ronaldo missing his last 50 free kicks, and so if the former Sao Paulo man does return to Chamartin it is unlikely he will be given command of situations in and around the area. Nonetheless, he might have moved himself up the pecking order with one of the standout goals in this season's Champions League. 

The 23-year-old Brazilian remains part of the Madrid set-up as he signed an initial 12-month loan deal with the Portuguese giants following a hugely frustrating start to life at Santiago Bernabeu. He played only a dozen times in La Liga last season and appeared to be one player too many in a congested central area. 

A move west has reinvogorated his career in Europe, however, and he demonstrated against Basel precisely the type of qualities that Real lacked in their own game against Schalke. 

He is in this Porto team for other reasons than his free-kicks, and those qualities shone through against a Basel side who put in their worst display since Real put five past them in September. It was a night that Paulo Sousa's side lost their heads, collectively. There were too many fouls and too much physicality in how they attempted to deal with the dexterity of Cristian Tello and Yacine Brahimi. They allowed Porto to control possession with Casemiro repeatedly setting his side moving.

He expertly stole the ball on 13 minutes and unleashed Tello, who was bundled over by Walter Samuel. Brahimi made no mistake with his own free kick from the edge of the box.

Then there was an audacious attempt at goal from about 40 yards which came unexpectedly for the television cameras. It was not the only time that Casemiro has conjured greatness under the radar this season. He is rapidly developing into the player Real wish they'd signed in the first place - leading Porto to only their second quarter-final since winning the Champions League in 2004.

Further goals from Hector Herrera and the industrious Vincent Aboubakar were in themselves worthy of confirming Porto's place as one of the top eight teams in Europe. 

This pairing was seen initially by many as the dud draw. Porto, however, are a team in spectacular form as their recent league outings would confirm. They have again earned their reputation as the supreme European finishing school for emerging talent. This is certainly their best group since Andre Villas-Boas took them to the Europa League title in 2011 and that vintage contained Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez.

"Teams must not under-estimate Porto in the next round," respected Sky Italia pundit and former Juventus striker Gianluca Vialli noted. "They have a lot of interesting players, they have not lost a game and their defence is one of the meanest in the competition."

There was to be one downside for the Portuguese side, though, as their captain Danilo suffered a sickening collision with his own goalkeeper during the first half. The right back, a target for Real, departed the field in an ambulance and was immediately transferred to hospital for observation. He will be fit enough for the quarters. 

No team, and certainly not Real, would want to face them in the the last eight. Not with such dominant football being purveyed under Julen Lopetegui and with such hunger and ferocity in the bellies of Casemiro and his team-mates.

Related