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Real Madrid loses key piece Casemiro with leg fracture

Real Madrid v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28: Casemiro (L) and Danilo of Real Madrid pose with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 28, 2016 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

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Real Madrid has announced that stalwart midfielder Casemiro will miss three weeks after suffering a broken bone in his leg.

The Brazilian defensive midfielder, 24, subbed off after 19 minutes against Espanyol on Sunday and did not feature at all in Tuesday’s draw with Villarreal.

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Toni Kroos has started in his spot for each match Casemiro has missed this season (one for injury, one for national team duty). Not a bad replacement option for Zinedine Zidane.

It took a while for Casemiro to earn Zidane’s trust as a starter, but Real won all 10 matches he started once he was inserted back into the XI last season.

In fact their only loss with him starting since March 2, 2016 was the 2-0 UEFA Champions League quarterfinal loss at Wolfsburg. Real is 18-1-1 with Casemiro starting in that span.

Perhaps it’s little surprise they drew Villarreal in his first match out, losing their bid to break a Barcelona-shared La Liga record for most consecutive league wins.

Las Palmas, Borussia Dortmund, and Eibar are Real’s next three matches.

Follow @NicholasMendola