Inside Real Madrid’s malaise: From Casemiro’s exit to Vinicius’ World Cup hangover | America

It was simply astounding How much did Luka Modric run? In the World Cup. The Croatian captain never seemed to stop, with his 37-year-old legs still pumping deep in high-intensity knockout matches.

Since returning to the Spanish capital, those legs have slowed down. Instead, the captain is unstable, out of pace, too.

And he is not alone. Modric and Toni KroosThe two elder statesmen of Madrid’s midfield trio have been far from their best in recent weeks, with the latter able to play full games but missing the crucial quality in possession that made him so valuable to Los Blancos.

Right now, then, it looks like Madrid sold the wrong midfielder last summer. Casemiro is thriving at Manchester United, while his replacement at the Santiago Bernabeu, Aurelien Chouamey, looks like him: a promising prospect learning his craft, as underlined by the 64 forgettable minutes of Madrid’s La Liga loss to Villarreal.

Fellow Frenchman Eduardo Camavinga also turned in an erratic performance in the Super Cup, with his mistakes contributing to both of Barca’s first-half goals.

Fede Valverde was also in the squad, with his rise likely a factor in Casemiro’s sale. He is mostly used on the right side of the front three, but his future is definitely in the middle. And there are some promising moments, but Uruguay has a habit of losing for long periods of time.

There are other options, of course. Dani Ceballos can fill in, so can Nacho Fernandez, but neither quality is essential.

Madrid, then, has serious cause for concern. Modric and Kroos have bounced back from poor stretches in the past, pulling themselves back into form thanks to their talent, work ethic and mental strength. However, with Casemiro no longer around to provide any support, Madrid’s midfield is shaky.


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