We said earlier today that Erik ten Hag must start Casemiro, Fred and Marcel Sabitzer in midfield against Barcelona for Thursday’s Europa League clash.
However, Casemiro’s presence at the base of that trio is undoubtedly crucial to how they will operate.
The 30-year-old has made 31 appearances in all competitions since joining from Real Madrid last summer, netting four goals and five assists.
No United player has made more tackles per game than Casemiro (3.2) while only Diogo Dalot (1.4) has managed more interceptions (1.3), so he’ll be key to keeping Barcelona at bay.
David De Gea is the only player to make more accurate long balls per game (4.6) than Casemiro (3.3) while only three players average more passes per game (49.4), so his distribution is also really important.
If the Brazilian international can stifle Barca’s creative players and get the ball forward quickly, United could stun the visitors.
The Red Devils drew 2-2 with the Catalans in the first leg and Casemiro turned over the ball three times while boasting the second-most passes in the team, so Erik ten Hag will want a repeat performance.
Per ManUtd.com, Ten Hag called Casemiro ‘magnificent’ in January and hailed his all-round game, so he’s under no illusions of his importance.
Ousmane Dembele (11 chances) and Pedri (eight chances) were two of Barca’s most creative players in the Champions League.
However, they will miss Thursday’s meeting due to injury, so Casemiro should only have Frenkie De Jong to worry about.
Stats from Transfermarkt and WhoScored
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