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.

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 12:  Sergio Ramos (L) and Casemiro of Real Madrid celebrate victory and reaching the semi finals after the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg match between Real Madrid CF and VfL Wolfsburg at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 12, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN – APRIL 12: Sergio Ramos (L) and Casemiro of Real Madrid celebrate victory and reaching the semi finals after the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg match between Real Madrid CF and VfL Wolfsburg at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 12, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.
“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.

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“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.

 

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