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Sergio Ramos is Real Madrid’s ultimate big-game player in Europe

Sergio Ramos is Real Madrid’s ultimate big-game player in Europe

I’m not being cheeky or doubting you, but you do know Sergio Ramos’ red-card record, don’t you? The infamous story about Real Madrid’s captain and how many times he gets sent off, yes?

No. Wait! Not the one about how another expulsion would land him squarely on a quarter-century of orderings-off for Los Blancos. That’s an entirely different side to Madrid’s belligerent captain. I mean, instead, the one where this combative, all-or-nothing, hell-for-leather centre-half/hero/hooligan has actually scored twice as many goals in European club semifinals and finals as he has seen red cards in his entire UEFA career?cheap nfl authentic jerseys

That’s right. This bull of a man, who some people probably believe has a hyphenated surname (Sergio Ramos-SentOff) has only been red-carded three times in over 120 UEFA matches for Sevilla and Real Madrid. It’s almost angelic and sits in truly stark comparison to his all-time record for Los Blancos, which shows that nobody in the history of top-level Spanish club football has been sent off more often.

Twenty-four dismissals (and counting) is his slightly embarrassing “landmark.” But the massive disparity between Ramos the “restrained European” and Ramos “Spain is my fiefdom and I’ll act exactly as I wish” is still greater once you examine more closely.277

Of his three Champions League red cards, one was simply for following Jose Mourinho’s streetwise instructions. Ramos and Xabi Alonso deliberately got themselves sent off for time-wasting second bookings in the final moments of a win against Ajax in 2010, so that they’d have a lesser chance of suspension in the knockout rounds. Subtract that ordering off, which admittedly caused one heck of a row at the time, and Ramos actually has three times more goals in UEFA semis and finals than he has European red cards.

These are remarkable stats in so many ways. The most obvious, of course, is that Saturday’s Champions League final will be Ramos’ fourth and he has yet to taste defeat. Yet it presents Real Madrid’s captain with not just a test of football, but the ultimate test of judgement and restraint.

Let’s not beat about the bush here: The prospect of Marcelo suddenly deciding to prioritise defending or positional discipline is as likely as Cristiano Ronaldo voting for Lionel Messi in the Ballon d’Or. And while Liverpool’s strengths do not begin and end with Mohamed Salah — the Egyptian is far from the only the principal Red menace — he plays down their right. Right where Marcelo should be, but won’t.cheap nfl jerseys from china

Now, it’s a nuance missed by many that although Ramos is firmly right-footed (he won Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 at right back) he prefers to play left-sided centre-back for Madrid. This puts him right in the danger zone that will be clearly marked on the Kiev pitch with the words, “Oh bloody hell, where’s Marcelo? Wait… here comes Salah at a hundred miles per hour!”

Even at 32 years old, this athlete from Andalusia, may well be able to match the brilliant Egyptian partly because Ramos is a terrific footballer, partly via his encyclopedia of experience and partly because Madrid’s captain is notably streetwise. However the last thing he wants to see is Salah with the ball at his feet, careering towards him at pace. Because this is the split-second moment when a defender has to commit. The position in which Ramos will undoubtedly find himself, whether to “jockey” the player and try to herd him into a space where he doesn’t want to go, or lunge into a tackle and risk yellow or red — this is the nightmare scenario for most defenders.