Thursday, June 27, 2019

Real Madrid v Ajax: Does Ramos ban open door for a Champions League upset?

SoccerNews in Eredivisie 5 Mar 2019

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No stranger to controversy, especially on the Champions League stage, Sergio Ramos is facing a spell on the sidelines in Europe’s top competition.

UEFA called the Real Madrid captain’s bluff after he collected a needlessly clumsy booking for a foul on Ajax forward Kasper Dolberg in the 89th minute of the reigning champions’ 2-1 last-16 win in Amsterdam.

Speaking after the match, Ramos told reporters he had considered trying to “force” the yellow card so he could serve a one-match ban during Tuesday’s second leg, with Madrid in a reasonably strong position in the tie.

Although he backtracked on those comments, UEFA had seen and heard enough to slap him with a two-game suspension.

Ramos has unquestionably doubled down on his status as European football’s ultimate pantomime villain, but it is hard to argue against this being a potentially costly miscalculation.

A glance over Madrid’s most recent Champions League matches without their defensive leader paints a grim picture for the first leg of the quarter-final… should Ajax allow them to make it that far.

Real Madrid 0 CSKA Moscow 3 (December 12, 2018)

Santiago Solari opted to rest Ramos for this dead rubber, with qualification as Group G winners already secured. Nevertheless, a comprehensive defeat to a CSKA side who finished bottom of the standings amounted to a chastening experience, with Fedor Chalov, Georgi Schennikov and Arnor Sigurdsson getting the goals.

CSKA Moscow 1 Real Madrid 0 (October 2, 2018)

A major mark against the ill-fated tenure of Julen Lopetegui came in the reverse fixture in Moscow. With Ramos similarly rested, Madrid’s defence lasted a grand total of 65 seconds before Nikola Vlasic slammed home, having skirted around a backpedalling Raphael Varane. CSKA took one point from the four Champions League games outside of their Madrid double this season.

Real Madrid 1 Juventus 3 (April 11, 2018)

A suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards – that old chestnut – ruled Ramos out of Madrid’s quarter-final second leg versus Juventus. A Cristiano Ronaldo inspired 3-0 lead from the first leg meant that should not have mattered at all, but Mario Mandzukic’s first-half brace had Zinedine Zidane’s team teetering on the brink of collapse. Blaise Matuidi levelled the tie on aggregate, only for Los Blancos to squeeze through when Ronaldo held his nerve from the penalty spot in stoppage time amid Juve recriminations and a red card for Gianluigi Buffon.

APOEL Nicosia 0 Real Madrid 6 (November 21, 2017)

After taking one point from back-to-back group games against Tottenham, a broken nose ruled Ramos out of Madrid’s trip to APOEL Nicosia. However, their Cypriot opponents proved accommodating hosts as Ronaldo and Karim Benzema both helped themselves to braces – the former completing the scoring by the 54th minute.

Legia Warsaw 3 Real Madrid 3 (November 2, 2016)

Gareth Bale’s spectacular first-minute opener gave Madrid the ideal start as Ramos sat out this round-robin trip to Poland with a knee problem. Benzema doubled the lead before a remarkable turnaround ensued, Zidane’s side needing a rare Mateo Kovacic goal to rescue a point in the closing stages.

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