With about a third of the match to go things we’re moving along quite swimmingly for Carlo Ancelotti’s men against Barcelona. Thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s go ahead penalty and they were the verge of putting Barca’s La Liga hopes to bed once and for all. But in a moment of madness it all changed. An inch perfect through ball sent Neymar through on goal and Sergio Ramos’ ill-advised trip lead to a penalty kick and his sending off. Madrid would never recover.
While it may be harsh to label Sergio Ramos a liability, it’s becoming apparent that the 27-year-old center back’s disciplinary issues may be more trouble than he’s worth. He now holds the dubious record for the most red cards in La Liga history at 19, and with so many years of top flight football left, he could be set to shatter it.
But while this may seem like an isolated incident, its unfortunately becoming a recurring theme and the question begins to rear itself – can Madrid expect to seriously compete for titles on all three fronts with such unpredictablity at the back? For all their talent both Pepe and Ramos are prone to loosing their heads, usually manifesting itself in a rash tackle or a mental lapse in defense. Worst yet, they’ve become the targets of referees who know their antics and sometimes make it a point to discipline them preemptively. In this case their respective reputations tend to precede them and while it isn’t necessarily fair, it’s become the realty.
But even Pepe has cleaned up his act a bit this season, in fact compared to Ramos, he’s been a rock. Earlier in the season away to Levante his equalizing header inside the final 10 minutes secured a point for Madrid, long after Sergio Ramos was given his marching orders before halftime. Pepe rose to the occasion and hand a stand out performance while the Madrid captain looked on from the sideline.
Ramos’ has been known as a bit of a hothead since his days at Sevilla. In fact it’s part of what makes him so great. He’s rarely ever has a quiet game; he always looking to impose himself and be part of the action. Admittedly, though Ramos is technically proficient, he tends to compensate for his lack of tactical awareness at times with his physicality something he’s been both criticized and lauded for since his massive €27 million move to Madrid back in 2005 at the age of 19. Often some of his mistakes were attributed to his youth and inexperience, after all defenders tend to mature later in their careers. But merely days before his 28th birthday it’s become harder to make excuses for the Spanish international.
But perhaps there is an underlying theme here? For what it’s worth despite his horrific disciplinary record for Los Blancos, he’s been a model of professionalism for Spain. In 115 games so far he’s racked up exactly zero red cards. Of course, some of this can be attributed to Spain’s possession based play but on the national team Ramos tends to perform with an air of serenity that’s woefully absent at times for Real Madrid, where he often seems a second away from disaster.
As Madrid approach the business end of the season, Ramos will need to keep his wits about him because Madrid cannot afford to be undone by elementary mistakes at the back. Most legendary defenders are known for their poise in the face of adversity and it’s time for Ramos to prove he belongs in this class, he’s far too talented not to.