Rio Ferdinand said that he “loves” watching Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro play, after he helped Los Blancos to beat Liverpool in the Champions League.
The Brazilian proved part of the Reds’ menace in the sides’ quarter-final first leg, partnering with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to dominate midfield. However, he had a similar influence in Wednesday’s reverse tie. The sides drew 0-0 at Anfield, sending Madrid to the semi-finals with their 3-1 advantage.
Despite not appearing as a standout player in Zinedine Zidane’s team, Casemiro’s statistics prove his influence.
The 29-year-old won all his aerial duels, recovered the ball 13 times and made five key clearances.
Speaking to BT Sport after the second leg, Ferdinand waxed lyrical about the Madrid man.
“Excellent footballer. He does all the graft, all the hard yards, all of the ugly stuff, but with a bit of quality as well,” the pundit said.
“I’ve seen him live a good few times… today, even his passing was top draw. In tight situations, finding the spare man, but knowing where to be.
“The most tackles, most regains of the ball today on the pitch out of any player. A complete understanding of the defensive midfielder role in a football team.”
Michael Owen added that Casemiro is “virtually irreplaceable” and that every good team needs a player like the Brazil international.
However, he did find himself at the centre of controversy in the first half.
What’s more, Andy Robertson showed an angry reaction to the challenge, which received a yellow card.
VAR did conduct a red card check, but Casemiro stayed on the field.
Ferdinand ‘loves’ Casemiro style
Ferdinand added: I really love the way he plays football.
“Disciplined, doesn’t go too far away from the area of danger in front of the back four.
“When he needs to come out of there, he picks his times and I think he’s a player that when you play in a team with a player like that, you absolutely adore having him in your team and you know when they’re not there.”
Madrid will face Chelsea in the semi-finals, with the first leg in Spain.