Casemiro: He is not here!



Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro refused to discuss the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo following his side’s Copa del Rey exit against Barcelona.

Barcelona won 3-0 on the night at The Bernabeu courtesy of a brace from Luis Suarez and an own goal from Raphael Varane as they prevailed 4-1 on aggregate to reach the final of the competition.

Real have struggled following Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus last summer, but Casemiro wasn’t willing to discuss the Portugal international after the game.

Casemiro told AS: ‘We cannot talk about a player who is not here.’

‘A week ago we talked about [Karim] Benzema being the best nine, Vinicius, Lucas [Vazquez]…we cannot talk about Cristiano because he’s not a Madrid player.

‘We missed a goal, but the top players are doing everything very well, especially Karim, who is making his best season at Madrid.’

During a trophy-laden spell at Real, Ronaldo scored a staggering 450 goals in 438 games.

Real’s failure to adequately replace Ronaldo has proven costly so far this campaign, and Santiago Solari’s side are currently in third place in La Liga, nine points adrift of leaders Barcelona.

Talented young winger Vinicius Junior has shown some encouraging signs but it is asking too much of the 18-year-old to fill the considerable void left by Ronaldo.

Real have an opportunity to exact instant revenge on Barcelona when the sides face each other again in La Liga on Saturday.

The main focus for Real in the remainder of the campaign, though, is likely to be on the Champions League as they seek to retain Europe’s club competition for the fourth year in succession.

Real beat Ajax 2-1 away in the first leg of their Champions League clash and will be determined to prevail in next week’s second leg.