Image Source: Ruben Ortega (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The spotlight over the past week in European football has been on Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos who picked up his 25th (eat your heart out Roy Keane) red card of his career on Sunday morning when Madrid in shocking fashion lost at home to Girona. The score may have only been 2-1 but Madrid did take the lead and look to have blown their faint league title chances with this defeat, their 7th of the season. Barcelona now have a 9 point lead over their eternal nemesis.
However, back to Ramos who was booked twice and sent off, all arms waving and rejecting his orders before stomping off. This was a player who once told a journalist in regard to how hard he plays "if you don't like how we play, then turn the TV off". You see, Ramos may not always be so honest on the pitch, before the laws of the game catch him up but he has always been brutally honest off it.
Take for instance last week when Madrid overcame Ajax 2-1 in their first knock out leg of the Champions League round of 16. As the game was coming to an end Ramos suddenly got booked. No one thought anything of it, it was just another yellow card for the Spaniard. That was until the post match interview when Ramos told all. "Not to underestimate the opponent, but sometimes you have to take these decisions and that's what I decided". That decision was knowing that if he got booked he would 'only' miss the 2nd leg of a match still very much alive, though a dead rubber obviously in Ramos' eyes which would give him a clean slate for the quarter finals.
However Ramos' honesty has got him in trouble with UEFA and he now looks set to miss the quarter finals (if Real qualify) entirely. Ramos of course has been one of the best defenders in world football for over a decade winning everything in his path, though he is also known as one of the most reckless players too. Liverpool fans were introduced to him and his 'wrestling' ways in last years Champions League final when Ramos and Mohamad Salah had a coming together, resulting in Salah's subsequent injury and the Liverpool forward could not continue in a final that Real Madrid went onto win 3-1. It's fair to say that there is no love lost between Liverpool and Ramos, and one wonders just how hard Liverpool players and fans will be praying to be paired in the latter stages of this seasons Champions League with Madrid. The match would pretty much sell itself.
Ramos would do well to keep his head down and get on with his game - but that's not going to happen anytime soon, this is how the 32 year old conducts himself and he must be something special for Madrid to hardly bat an eyelid at his disiplinary record.
If you think Ramos can continue to lead from the front and earn Real Madrid some trophies this season, the club are odds of 2.50 to win the Copa del Rey - be aware that they have to get past Barcelona in the semi finals. To win the league Madrid are 17.00 and to win the Champions League for a 4th straight year they are 10.00.