Is it time to assess Sergio Ramos’ Real Madrid future?

He is Real Madrid’s spiritual leader and one of the most decorated players in the club’s long and storied history, but Sergio Ramos has his flaws. Many of them. Of course, they have always been masked by what he brought to the team on the pitch. Now, though, Ramos’ contribution isn’t so positive.

The red card he was shown in the Champions League round of 16 first leg defeat to Manchester City means nobody has been sent off more times in the competition than Ramos. The defender has also previously been shown red against Galatasaray, Ajax and Olympiacos, but this could prove to be his most costly dismissal yet.

Ramos’ absence means Eder Militao will likely play alongside Raphael Varane for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium. Militao has provided Real Madrid with some depth over the course of the season, but the summer signing has still shown vulnerabilities. Man City will look to exploit that to get the job done and progress to the Champions League quarter finals.

On the flip side, Ramos isn’t the force he once was. Real Madrid might not miss him as much as they would have in seasons gone by. Against City on Wednesday night, he was something of a liability. It has been that way for much of the season, with Varane usurping Ramos as Zinedine Zidane’s defensive bedrock.

Wednesday night’s red card was the 26th of Ramos’ career to date as a Real Madrid player. He has never managed to leave that part of his game behind, but while his other qualities used to make up for this that might not no longer be the case. The end is surely approaching for the 33-year-old at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Ramos has a contract with Real Madrid until the summer of 2021. Talks have recently taken place, but no breakthrough has been made yet. If Real Madrid are to claim a transfer fee for their captain this summer presents them with the last opportunity to do so. “The relationship with the club is magnificent in every way,” Ramos explained recently

“So there is no rush on any side – mine or club. I’ve never made extra demands, I understand club’s policy with players of certain age. If club wants me to say, I’ll stay, no need to worry.” What if Real Madrid don’t want Ramos to stay, though? His future in the Spanish capital isn’t for certain.

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No circus at Real Madrid as Zidane is quietly getting the job done

There was much scepticism when Zinedine Zidane returned as coach of Real Madrid last summer after walking out of the club a year beforehand. But the Frenchman’s return is being justified by every passing week, and Real Madrid are top of La Liga.

Madrid have 49 points and it is only their fierce rival Barcelona who can stop their quest for a La Liga title, they currently have 46 points. In 3rd is Getafe with 39 points. It has been quite an achievement for Madrid under Zidane who have just come off of a great weekend as they beat their eternal rivals in the derby Atletico Madrid 1-0 keeping a clean sheet in the process. That score line summed up Madrid, no mad 4-3 wins and games filled with red cards, just a simple 1-0 will do the job.

That win ended Atletico’s title hopes too and Diego Simeone’s side now sit a huge 14 points behind their rivals.

Compared to other seasons Real are not scoring tons of goals, just 40 so far for them. True that is still the 2nd best in the league but is still 12 behind Barcelona and only one in front of Villarreal. But it is in defence where Real are really shining, conceding just 13 goals this season which is by far the best defensive record in the league. They allowed a great side like Atletico just 1 shot on target the whole game at the Bernabeu and at home that figure goes down to just 7 goals shipped.

Sergio Ramos has helped keep 11 clean sheets whilst Raphael Varane and Daniel Carvajal have kept 10. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has easily been the best shot stopper in the league and whilst we associate Madrid with attack and goals the focus has clearly been on defence.

Only Karim Benzema has been scoring the goals for Real, he currently has 13 and the days of having a player scoring 40 or 50 goals a season in Cristiano Ronaldo has long gone. He will be for ever thanked at the club, but football is and always will be a team game and that is the mentality of the club under Zidane this season.

Incredibly Real have only won the league once in the past 7 years which last happened in 2017. Whilst Madrid will have a go on all fronts in the Champions League club president Florentino Perez would love to deliver the league and knock back Barcelona, it would mean a great deal to stop Barca winning their 3rd league title in a row.

As far as the Champions League goes, Madrid will face off against Manchester City in what should be a mouth watering 2 legged affair. It also brings back Pep Guardiola to the Bernabeu he whose blood bleeds the colours of Barcelona, just for some more added spice.

Can Madrid win their 2nd title in 8 years, they have given themselves every chance to do so, and for now it looks like Zidane has come back to save Madrid who were clearing in a chaotic mess a year ago.

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Raphael Varane starting to usurp Sergio Ramos as Real Madrid’s bedrock

Initially, it seemed that Raphael Varane had scored both goals in Real Madrid’s impressive away win over Getafe on Saturday. In the end, the opener was credited to Getafe goalkeeper, David Soria, with the opposition shot-stopper punching into his own net under pressure from the French defender.

Nonetheless, this was a match that illustrated just how important Varane is to Real Madrid at this moment. With Sergio Ramos ruled out of the match through suspension it was up to the Frenchman to lead the defence against an opponent up for the fight. Getafe have enjoyed an exceptional season so far and the Coliseum Alfonso Perez has become one of the toughest places in Spanish football to visit.

Eder Militao looked uncomfortable with the intensity and ferocity of Getafe’s high press in the first half, but Varane was a calming influence alongside the Brazilian youngster. Over the course of the match, Real Madrid steadied and this was largely down to the performance of Varane.

He also carries a goal threat, as demonstrated in the goal he scored and the other he forced in the 3-0 win over Getafe on Saturday. That is similar to that also posed by Ramos, but there are signs that Varane is starting to usurp the Real Madrid captain as the club’s defensive bedrock. Varane is becoming the player Zidane is building his team on.

“I already said that you have to be calm in front of goal,” Zidane explained after the Getafe win, underlining how many scoring options his team has. “You have to be calm because sometimes the ball does not fit. And with goals today from Varane, it shows that we have many resources to score. For us, it is important to win here because it is a very complicated league. The boys have been plugged in since minute one with great intensity.”

This hasn’t stemmed speculation linking the 26-year-old with an exit from the Santiago Bernabeu. Indeed, Varane’s name has become a staple of the gossip column in recent years. Tottenham are the latest club to be linked with the Frenchman, with Jose Mourinho reported to be a fan of his former player.

However, Real Madrid would be extremely foolish to sell their best defender. At 26, Varane is coming into his peak years while at Ramos is well into his twilight as a professional. If they are to place their faith in one over the year at this point, it has to be the former. He represents the defensive future of the Spanish club. In fact, he’s the present as well.

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Why does Sergio Ramos continue to hit Real Madrid’s penalties?

Real Madrid were 2-0 up and cruising when they were awarded a penalty kick against Leganes on Wednesday night. Rodrygo and Toni Kroos had already found the net and so this was a chance to further boost the confidence of one of their struggling players. Eden Hazard should have been the prime candidate. Instead, Sergio Ramos took it. And missed.

Ultimately, Ramos was given a second chance to convert from the spot after the VAR spotted that Juan Soriano had strayed off his line in making the save, but in having his first attempt saved the Real Madrid captain had already raised the question – why does he continue to hit his team’s penalties?

Ramos has held first refusal on most goalscoring set pieces since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in the summer of 2018, boosting the centre back’s numbers to a career high of six goals in La Liga over the course of last season. But Ramos isn’t an especially strong penalty taker and he certainly isn’t an expert freekick taker.

As captain, Ramos should have the self-awareness to recognise there are better candidates around him to take freekicks and penalties. By claiming them for himself, the defender is only acting out of selfishness and egotism. While it didn’t against Leganes, it could cost Real Madrid.

Ramos has always carried a goal threat. He is a potent presence in the box, getting on the end of freekick and corner kick deliveries. There are few as good as him at attacking a cross whipped right on top of the opposition goalkeeper. Ramos also knows how to act as an emergency striker when his team is desperately looking for a winner.

That is enough for a centre back. Ramos’ primary function on a football pitch isn’t to score goals, it’s to stop them from being scored against Real Madrid. Taking penalties and freekicks is only a distraction to Ramos and Real Madrid as a whole. As club captain, delegation should be among his duties.

It’s somewhat surprising that Zidane hasn’t handed penalty duties to someone like Karim Benzema over Ramos. Maybe Hazard will take more of them once he regains match sharpness, but such is the influence of Ramos in the Santiago Bernabeu dressing room it might not be easy to wrestle the ball off his captain.

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UEFA make Real Madrid unseeded in an odd move for the Champions League draw

The draw for the Champions League season 2019/20 will take place later today and sadly UEFA have made it all about them. In a stunning move, which actually feels more bizarre they have decided not to seed Real Madrid.

Now even if you are not a fan of the club, that is beside the point. Barcelona fans for example may just be laughing at the idea that Madrid have been relegated to Pot 2. However if you are a fan of football then you’ll be scratching your head and wondering why a club that has won the competition 4 times from the past 6 years isn’t being seeded.

The story has gone completely under the carpet which is a bit of a travesty really. Had Liverpool won the competition 4 from the last 6 years could you imagine the media in England? And these type of stories shouldn’t go unnoticed around Europe and only be centered on one country. All sports media should be crying out loud because this is a playing like a bad joke from UEFA. They are not rewarding success, they are making their awkward points system all about them and not the club- and then UEFA wonder why some of them threaten to breakaway and start a super league.

As news stories go, this one may not feel important, but it should be. UEFA used to respect the clubs that won their own leagues and competitions. UEFA have punished Madrid based on last season alone when they didn’t win the Champions League or the Spanish title. Punished for one season, makes little sense when they have dominated the competition for years.

However rules are rules and the likelihood is that Madrid will qualify for the knock out stages anyway.

The draw should be an exciting one as Madrid count draw one of the very big teams. Imagine for if example they came head to head with Liverpool that would be a repeat of the 2018 final. Not only would Liverpool be after revenge but how will Mohamed Salah react to having to play against Sergio Ramos. Put it this way you wouldn’t want to be Ramos when Liverpool play at Anfield.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said this season will be the hardest in the Champions League ever, and with teams always improving he has a good point. Any one of 6 teams could win it this season, or perhaps we will have a major surprise.

 

Real Madrid’s clear out begins

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The news that Sergio Ramos has personally requested a transfer from Real Madrid should sound the alarm bells.

With a plethora of staff already being made available by the club, losing their talismanic captain just a year after Cristiano Ronaldo is a sure sign that Los Blancos are still on the way down.

Zinedine Zidane knew when he returned to the helm at the Santiago Bernabeu that this wouldn’t be an overnight job, but even he must’ve been surprised at just how far behind Barcelona his side have fallen. Continue reading

Sergio Ramos at Real Madrid shows continued fractions

 

ramos

It has been a week of ups and downs, twists and turns and unpredictability for Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. First there were reports that he wanted to go to China on a free transfer, then that he had changed his mind and wanted to stay, then club president Florentino Perez confirmed the defender had requested an exit. The bizarre week ended with the 33-year-old staging a press conference to reaffirm his commitment to Madrid.

 

The Spain international made 41 starts for the club this season but was among a number of underperforming players as Madrid endured a tough campaign. Few had doubted his longevity at the club beyond this season, being the captain and a symbol for Los Blancos over the past decade. But the past few days highlighted a strained relationship with president Perez. Continue reading

Zinedine Zidane’s biggest season is coming up at Real Madrid

Zinedine-Zidane(1)

They say never go back, but in the case of Zinedine Zidane that is what he did at Real Madrid. Walking away after the 2018 Champions League final win over Liverpool, Madrid went into meltdown. Not only did Zidane leave but so did Cristiano Ronaldo and president Florentino Perez went through two managers before Zidane waltzed his way back into the Bernabeu 10 months after leaving.

Truth is though results have not improved since he took over from the beleaguered and unfortunate Santiago Solari. Zidane holds just a 50% win rate compared to a near 70% from his first spell. One wonders if the appointment of Zidane should have been delayed until the end of the season, because at the moment everything looks so deflated even with Zidane in charge.

Real Madrid’s latest defeat came at the hands of Real Sociedad in a 3-1 loss, though to be fair Madrid have never travelled well up to Basque Country. And it does feel that players have switched onto holiday mode and the league still has one more game to go. Real will finish 3rd whatever happens and that guarantees Champions League football for next season, and next season is what it’s really all about for the club.

There will be huge change at the club in the summer and this is when Zidane will be making some sweeping changes to the club. Gareth Bale is almost certain to leave the club. The Welshman still boasts superb quality and would be a fantastic addition to any club in the world, but he needs change, a refresher course so to speak and Madrid still know that he is worth at least 70 million euros to buyers. Toni Kroos seems to have let the season pass him by and could leave also.

But one wonders if Zidane is really ready to shake the apple tree up. Is it time for Sergio Ramos and Marcelo to depart, staple players of the team in the 2010s, but one has to question if their hunger and desire is really there at the club anymore. If they can convince Zidane that it is then maybe they will stay. Karim Benzema who has actually had a decent personal season with the club may have played his last only because of the players that could be coming in.

Madrid have been linked to the likes of Eden Hazard, Neymar and even Kylian Mbappe. It will be interesting to see who the club bring in, but for sure they will have to sell first and at least 6 first team players will be playing their last games for the club next weekend.

For Zidane his 2nd term at Madrid really starts at the end of this season and it could be a career defining one. This will be the season targeted as the comeback one, Barcelon beware.

Barca could end Solari’s Real Madrid career

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Earlier this season, Julen Lopetegui knew definitively that his Real Madrid coaching tenure was over when Los Blancos were hammered 5-1 at the Camp Nou.

The manner of the defeat left Florentino Perez no other option, notwithstanding that the president needs no excuse to exercise his trigger finger. Continue reading

Real Madrid all but surrender late title bid with shock defeat to Girona

Real Madrid v Girona

Last Sunday morning, the Santiago Bernabeu bore witness to what may well have been the end of Real Madrid’s thin hopes of a late La Liga title challenge.

The Spanish giants and current Champions League holders stumbled to a 2-1 defeat to bottom-half side Girona in front of their disillusioned fans.

Girona are enjoying only their third season in the top flight of Spanish football having been promoted to La Liga for the first time in 2016.

Let’s take a look at the fantasy football heroes and zeroes after this surprise win for the Catalonian club.