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Gilberto Silva: "For me, Casemiro is one of the best, if not the best in the defensive midfield position."

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Gilberto Silva knows what it takes to win a World Cup with Brazil. He played a key role in his country's success in 2002, providing the perfect foil for Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo, and he thinks Real Madrid star Casemiro can play a similar role for the class of 2018 in Russia.

Casemiro's rise to being an integral figure for Real Madrid and Brazil has been nothing short of remarkable.

A bit-part player at the Bernabeu following his move from Sao Paulo, Carlo Ancelotti sent the Brazilian out on loan to Porto and he remained out of favour after Rafael Benitez replaced the Italian.

It was not until Zinedine Zidane took control at Real that Casemiro's career began to flourish. Likened to Zidane's former team-mate Claude Makelele, he has been one of the first names on Zidane's teamsheet in recent seasons, playing a crucial role in helping the club to three successive Champions League triumphs in 2016, 2017 and 2018, a La Liga title, two European Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.

And Gilberto, who helped Brazil to their last World Cup title in 2002, is hoping the 26-year-old, who made his Brazil debut as a 19-year-old in 2011, can fill the void he left to deliver a first success in 16 years.

"For me, Casemiro is one of the best, if not the best in the defensive midfield position," the former Brazil midfielder told Sky Sports.

"Since my retirement all the players that have played in this role for Brazil have played differently. With all respect to all of the other players that have played there, their style was completely different. At one point we had Paulinho playing with Ramires and they have the same style of play.

"Neither of them played in the holding midfield role, however, now with Casemiro they have someone who holds the position and protects the back four. It frees up the attacking players.

"It also frees up Paulinho," he added. "He can attack more and the combination between the two players works well. Casemiro's role gives Paulinho the freedom to move forward and that's good for Brazil because he's very good when he gets himself into the box to get on the end of crosses."

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